The O’s Are Better Than It Sometimes Appears

Every week, Beyond The Box Score comes out with their updated power rankings…

“In this ranking, we use aggregate team hitting, pitching, and fielding statistics–not team wins, losses, runs scored, or runs allowed–to evaluate the performance of teams to date. You can think of the estimated winning percentage (eW%) below as how we’d expect teams to fall out if we threw teams with these aggregate statistics into one big league and let them battle it out for thousands of games.”

The Orioles have made a slow steady climb from the bottom of the pack to 15th place most recently, with an expected runs scored of 325 based on a .331 wOBA (including stolen bases) and an expected runs allowed of 349 based on a 4.85 tRA and a -16.6 fielding rating (combines UZR and The Hardball Times’ batted ball data converted to runs). That results in a winning percentage of .465 (a 75 win season) and an expected winning percentage when adjusted for league difficulty (the AL is much better than the NL, so AL teams get a bonus) of .493 (an 80 win season, if everyone was in one league). Given the team’s current actual winning percentage of .450 (a 73 win season), it looks like they’ve underperformed a little bit.

So what happens if you just look at the pitchers that are still with the team (so excluding Jamie Walker, Adam Eaton, Alfredo Simon, and Radhames Liz)? The tRA falls to about 4.60, which – combined with the fielding, and assuming the same number of innings pitched as above – would result in about 333 expected runs allowed. That’s about a .488 expected winning percentage (a 79 win season) and a .512 league adjusted expected winning percentage (an 83 win season). I’m not saying that the Orioles are going to win at a .488 clip going forward or that they’ll crack 80 wins, but with the way the team’s shown it’s willing to cut loose pitchers that are ineffective (Walker and Eaton) and aren’t learning on the job (Liz, who finds himself all the way back at Double-A), and back-up waiting at Triple-A (David Hernandez and his 3.49 tRA in 13.2 IP this year in the majors, 2.48 tRA in the minors), I do think the O’s have a legitimate chance of finishing the year as one of the top 10-15 teams in all of baseball. And still a distant fifth in the AL East.