Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Buck Ball

Here we sit on September 4. The baseball season is in its 6th and final month. And look who’s hanging around.

This is one of the most (fill in superlative) years in baseball we’ve ever seen. Unusual is probably the word to use, or unexpected. Phillies are buried, Red Sox are a dumpster fire, Angels can’t get off the ground, Tigers are looking up in the standings, the new-look Marlins looked old in a hurry, and free-spending Dodgers are getting further behind. Those teams are all among the highest payrolls in baseball. Meanwhile, look out for the Orioles, Athletics, Rays, Reds, Nationals, and Pirates!

The most amazing story is the Orioles. And also the weirdest. This entire season has been filled with “O’s are off to a hot start but they won’t maintain it.” “Buck has done a good job but they will fall back to earth.” “Orioles are in second place but they’ll fade to the bottom soon enough.” “Baltimore is a pleasant surprise but they can’t keep up with the big dogs.” Guess what: they are! Not only that, but they are in position to win the AL BEast! How are they doing it?

They certainly aren’t doing it the conventional way. Here are some strange but true facts about the Baltimore Orioles this season (and actually, a lot of these numbers have improved lately!):
  • 13th (out of 14 AL teams) in on-base-percentage
  • most errors and worst fielding percentage
  • last in stolen bases and worst stolen base percentage
  • 3rd-most strikeouts
  • 3rd-most grounded into double plays
  • Fewest occasions with runners in scoring position
  • Tied for worst with only 1 complete game pitched
  • Only one starter remaining from Opening Day pitching rotation (a rookie, the #5 starter)
  • Only team with a winning record that has a negative run differential
Buck Showalter’s team is certainly doing it against the customary way to win: great starting pitching, small ball to score runs, play good defense. But you know what, they keep winning, and this morning they are 1 little game behind the first place Yankees.

Here is their current starting rotation: Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Joe Saunders, and Zach Britton. Who?

The most amazing stat, and the one that is doing it for them, is this: 24-7 in one-run games, and a miraculous 12-2 in extra innings.

“It will catch up to them.” Oh really? They just beat the Bronx Bombers 2 out of 3 in New York, and that was right after winning 3 of 4 from the first place White Sox.

I’m a huge Yankees fan but I can’t deny it: I am rooting for the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.

Article by William Zeltman
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