2010 Orioles Retrospective: Buck Showalter

Two months into the season, the Orioles’ front office decided that Dave Trembley surely wasn’t the answer at manager and fired the 4th year skipper. Sure the team had gotten worse each season under his watch – and Andy MacPhail for some reason said that this season would be about wins and losses – but it’s hard to pin all that much blame on Dave given what he had to work with. I’m not saying he was a good manager, but I don’t think he was the worst of the 30 in the game. The next two month saw Juan Samuel at the helm, in what was very likely to be an interim spot. He had marginally better results than Trembley did to start the year, but that’s it. Then Buck Showalter – Veteran Manager – was hired to much fan-fare. He took over at the beginning of August, and the team went on a tear. I looked at the Buck Magic after the team started out 5-1 under him, and then again at the end of his first month. Here’s the final managerial break-down:

Offense:

Runs/G Hitting wOBA BB% K% BABIP
Duan Tremuel 3.6 .256/.315/.384 .308 7.2% 18.8% .294
Buck Magic 4.1 .265/.317/.390 .312 6.5% 19.5% .310

They increased* their scoring by about a half-run per game, though they didn’t really hit better. Higher batting average due partly to the elevated BABIP^, but with fewer walks and more strike-outs. A four point difference in wOBA^ is pretty small, and looking at wRC^ per game we get about 3.95 before Buck and 4.03 after Buck (I had to take it out an extra decimal place to see the difference).

* Maybe it was all the bunting. Or maybe not.

Pitching:

ERA K/9 BB/9 HR/9 FIP xFIP GB%
D. Tremuel 5.18 6.1 3.6 1.2 4.77 4.75 42%
Buck Magic 3.54 6.7 2.7 1.1 4.18 4.35 42%

The pitching undoubtedly got better, but by closer to a half-run per game than almost two runs per game. I don’t know how much credit you want to give Buck for Brian Matusz’s improvement, but that certainly played a role in the better numbers for the whole staff later in the year.

Defensively, there aren’t any splits for UZR^ numbers, but having kept track of the team’s stats all year I can tell you that they also improved later in the year. About the time Buck took over, the team had an UZR of around -35 runs – but they finished at -25. The plus/minus^ numbers also got better, though I don’t remember the previous figures.

Overall, the O’s went 34-23 under Buck - a 97 win pace over a full season. Given their wOBA, xFIP, and assumed UZR though, they “should” have scored about 229 runs and given up about 258. That would indicate a record of only 25-32 (a 72 win pace). So while it was nice to see the team playing some winning baseball for a change, I have a hard time expecting the Buck Magic to carry over into next season unless there’s some change in the underlying fundamentals. But hey, if the team gets “outplayed” for 162 games but still managed to win 95 of them to make it into the playoffs, I’d gladly take it.