When Buck Showalter took over as manager and the Orioles started out 5-1 on his watch, I looked at how the team was doing it. With the team having finished August 17-11 – their best record in the month since 1997 – I thought I’d do an update (using full August stats for ease, which include Juan Samuel’s final game).
The team’s batting just .257/.305/.406, which is a bump in slugging from earlier in the year but a decrease in OBP. The team’s walk and strike-out rates have both dropped by about 1%, which is much more bad in the former case than it is good in the latter case. After the early offensive explosion under Buck, the team’s .335 BABIP has come down and the offense is right back to where it has been all year. They had a .308 wOBA before August, and they have a .308 wOBA now (with a .310 mark in the month itself).
It’s been good, but not as good as it’s looked. The staff’s August ERA is 3.38, but they have a 3.99 FIP and a 4.45 xFIP. They walked fewer guys than they had been – almost 1.5 fewer free passes per nine – and got a few more groundballs, but the strike-out rate also dropped from an already low 6.1 K/9 to just 5.6 K/9 (and only 4.8 K/9 from the starters). It’s actually the rotation where all of Buck’s magic seems to be working, as the bullpen’s numbers were right in line with where they should have been (more or less); 3.94 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 3.91 xFIP.
So can the starters keep up their great results (3.20 ERA)? Doubtful. They benefited from a .262 BABIP, 76.4% left on base rate (which is pretty high), and a very low 6.8% HR/FB rate. Their ERA will probably be closer to their xFIP (4.63) going forward.
The team outscored their opponents 112-100, which would indicate a record of 15-13 (instead of 17-11), so that’s pretty close there. On the other hand, their .310 wOBA gives you 108 runs created, while a 4.45 xFIP in 250 innings pitched (and assuming average defense, which I don’t have an August split on but I think is more generous than not) gives you 134 runs allowed. Those two factors indicate a record off… 11-17.
And an 11-17 record is a .400 winning percentage. 108 runs scored in 28 games is 3.9 runs per game. 134 runs allowed in 28 games is 4.8 runs per game. Three weeks ago I said:
“Despite the recent spate of wins, it wouldn’t be at all unexpected if the O’s played just .400 baseball down the stretch (better than their .333 up until now), scoring about 3.9 runs per game while allowing 4.8 (compared to 3.7 and 5.4 coming into today).”
We’ll see what September brings, besides some call-ups (Nolan’s back! yaye!).