The Orioles Season Beyond Wins & Losses

We’re now three months into the season, and the Orioles sit at 35-44. As we’ve gone along, I’ve been occasionally updating the Beyond W & L section at the top of the page, which looks at the team’s record based on runs scored and allowed as well as their underlying stats. For a long time the team was performing better than they “should have been”, but the recent spate of losing has brought things in line:

The Basics:

W L W%
35 44 .443

That’s a 72 wn pace, which would be disappointing but would also be the team’s most victories since 2005.

Pythagorean:

RS RA Pythag. W% Pythag. W Pythag. L
322 383 .421 33 46

The team is getting outscored by quite a bit; their run differential per game is the 4th worst in the majors.

Advanced Stats:

wOBA wRC Baserunning Expected RS
.319 342 -3 339

ERA FIP xFIP Defense Expected RA
4.42 4.42 4.10 -31 386

Expected W% Expected W Expected L
.440 35 44

The offense is still below average, but it’s been improving – their wRC+ is up to 98. Why has the team scored around 17 fewer runs than you’d expect based on their hitting?

There are the double plays, of course. The 77 the O’s have grounded into are the third most in the majors, which is kind of sad given that they don’t tend to get a ton of runners on base (their double plays per opportunities is also third highest, but much closer to first than the raw number). With the Orioles having hit into about 15 more double plays than the average team and a double play worth something like -0.5 runs, that explains almost half the difference (they’ve cost themselves around 8 runs more than the average team with the double plays).

Otherwise I think it’s just some bad luck. I’ve heard people complaining about the O’s not getting “big hits” or whatnot, but the team is doing much better with runners in scoring position (.760 OPS) than they are overall (.717 OPS) (and FanGraphs has the O’s as in positive “clutch” territory). They haven’t been good about turning runner into runs – their rate of runs over a quick estimate of baserunners (hits + walks + HBPs) is below league average – but not horrendously so.

So the team is underperforming in the runs scored area, which indicates there’s a little bit of upside there.

On the run prevention side, things line up quite well. The O’s have given up 383 runs – the second most on a per game basis (4.8) in the AL. I use xFIP for the expected runs allowed calculation, and the Orioles have been better on that count than with either ERA or FIP because their home run per flyball rate (10.8%) is one of the highest in the majors. At least a little bit of that is probably misfortune, though it’s not unreasonable to think the O’s will be a little worse than average in that area given their home park.

And while the pitching has been bad, the fielding has been worse (ia major league low -34 UZR – almost 12 runs below the next worst team). Wieters has been good. As has Derrek Lee (with the glove, anyway). Robert Andino has a good UZR, which we would expect from a shortstop playing a lot of second-base. Nick Markakis isn’t below zero for the first time in years. But otherwise it’s not pretty. Mark Reynolds is obviously the main offender (-16 runs), but Adam Jones hasn’t helped (-10 runs). Then there are other minuses all around the diamond.

Makes sense that bad pitching plus bad defense results in a lot of runs for the opposition, though I’d be somewhat surprised if the Orioles did end up with the majors’ worst UZR at the end of the year (a half season of defensive numbers are not the most reliable thing in the world).

This has not been a good team – despite getting oh so close to .500 recently – but I have to think they’ll pick things up at least somewhat in the second half. The dream of a .500 season is probably gone though, as the Orioles would need to play like a 90 win club from here on out to get there.


Stats: Pythagorean W%, wOBA, wRC, ERA, FIP, xFIP, Defense