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First-half hitting roundup: Profiling the offense so far

Here’s the rub: the Orioles are a slap-hitting team that has trouble scoring runs, but several mid-season substitutes might bump up their totals in the second half.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays
Can CD stop being so streaky in the second half?
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

While we’re twiddling our thumbs until baseball comes back, I did some spelunking around Baseball Reference to get some data on the Orioles offense in the first half of the season. The news is mostly underwhelming, but there are some bright spots.

Overall

Here are the grand totals. (Btw, sOPS+ is basically OPS+ adjusted for the team splits, and yes, 100 is average.)

Courtesy of Baseball Reference: https://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/FuoVN

The Orioles’ per game totals and MLB rankings look like this:

Runs: 4.21 (26th) (Leader: Minnesota, 5.72)
Hits: 8.41 (16th) (Leader: Arizona, 9.39)
Doubles: 1.56 (24th) (Leader: Colorado, 2.12)
Home Runs: 1.21 (24th) (Leader: Minnesota, 1.87. Last Place: Miami, 0.77)
RBIs: 3.96 (28th) (Leader: Minnesota, 5.49)
BB: 2.73 (26th) (Leader: Chicago Cubs, 3.83)
SO: 9.04 (21st) (Leader: LAA, 6.87, Last Place: Texas, 10.00)
BA: .240 (26th) (Leader: Boston, .272)
OBP: .303 (26th) (Leader: Boston, .345)
SLG: .402 (25th) (Leader: Minnesota, .497, Last Place: Miami, 0.358)
OPS: .704 (27th) (Leader: Minnesota, .833, Last Place: Miami, 0.655)
Total Bases: 13.74 (24th) (Leader: Minnesota, 17.87)
Left On Base: 6.47 (6th) (Leader: San Diego, 5.89, Last Place: LAD, 7.40)

The Orioles rank towards the bottom in most offensive categories (whomp whomp) with a few exceptions. First, I didn’t include them above but 43 stolen bases is good for 8th in the AL and 13th in the MLB (Kansas City leads). The Orioles also have 14 triples, good for 6th place in baseball. (Triples are a fluky stat in my opinion, but this is further proof of speed in this lineup.) The team is also 9th in AL in SOs, so… could be worse!

Hit totals are something of a little victory for this team, too, which is solidly at the middle of the pack. Yet, curiously, they’re terrible at batting in runs. Back in May, I took a dig into the offensive numbers and found that after a hot April, Orioles bats were actually hitting more but dropping down the tables in RBIs. I chalked this up to holes in the lineup, and I think that’s where they’ve settled. If you’ve personally watched these games, you know guys like Trey Mancini and Jonathan Villar have been frequently stranded on base.

Month to month, the team’s up-and-downs haven’t been as pronounced as they once looked. (Law of averages, ya know.)

Courtesy of BaseballReference: https://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/nQAr8

Notwithstanding that April was the team’s best, record-wise, the offensive totals didn’t go down much in May, June, and the first week of July, except in hits and RBIs. In fact, slugging/.OPS/BAbip have gone up since then, evidence to me of the team having shed some offensive deadweight and making better, harder contact. These are stats to keep track of in the second half, to the extent that you enjoy that kind of thing.

I wondered, given all this, about situational hitting, so here’s the breakdown. First, the Orioles with runners in scoring position, and runners on base:

Courtesy of BaseballReference: https://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/cwT8o

Granted, using BA w/ RISP to prove clutch hitting has a circularity problem, since men on can be a sign of a bad pitcher. But still, I was surprised to see that the team actually somewhat overperforms with men on base.

How about that much-vaunted “don’t quit” attitude the players talk about in pre- and postgame interviews? Not really there, it turns out, when you look at the breakdown by inning.

Courtesy of BaseballReference: https://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/8Mlg5

The Orioles’ best inning is the first, with, for whatever reason, a power surge coming around the fourth (possibly because it’s the second time facing the pitcher). After the sixth, also a high point (about the time starters start to tire), the average drops way down. This reflects the strength and specialization of major-league closers, but it also speaks to noncompetitive at-bats during those blowout games where, frankly, everybody just wants to go home.

Turning to opposing pitchers, I wanted to know what kinds the Orioles have trouble facing. Divided by lefty/righty, power/finesse, and groundball/flyball, here are the splits:

Courtesy of BaseballReference: http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/B7dSq
Courtesy of BaseballReference: https://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/hIG6S
Courtesy of BaseballReference: https://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/nwr4C

No surprises here as to handedness. If you’ve been watching this team at all, you’ve seen the assault Hanser Alberto and Mancini have been putting on left-handed pitching. The Orioles have been weaker against righties, but I’m predicting those stats to change as Chance Sisco and Anthony Santander go longer into the season. I was surprised to see that the current Orioles are better against finesse pitchers than power hurlers, and against groundball pitchers than flyball ones. Back in 2013-16, when Orioles hitters led the HR leaderboard four years in a row (Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz, Davis again, and Mark Trumbo), this was a fastball-hitting team primarily. (Sigh, those were very different teams…)

Finally, who’s performing and who isn’t? First, let’s break it down by age.

Courtesy of BaseballReference: https://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/7Dpcj

Neither the youngsters nor the veterans (such as they are) are carrying this team. Not surprising—the only Orioles hitters over 30 this year have been Jesús Sucre and Chris Davis, and the 25-and-under totals are currently being dragged down by Rio Ruiz, Richie Martin, and Cedric Mullins. Still, I expect both to change as the season goes on and Sisco, 24, Núñez, 25, Santander, 24, and Severino, 25, get more playing time. Regarding Davis, Hyde has shown that he’ll get playing time only insofar as he’s hitting.

Finally, broken down by position:

Courtesy of BaseballReference: https://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/0f9Wo

Few surprises here. The Orioles have had a lot of trouble up the middle finding good gloves who can hit competitively: CF and SS were and continue to be offensive black holes. At catcher, however, the stats look to improve since Sucre was optioned, with Sisco and Severino both reliable options on both sides of the plate.

Any of these numbers surprise you? Which performance metrics are you looking to for the second half of the season?