Baltimore Orioles Baserunning Beauties and Blunders


August 8, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) runs to steal second in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Machado would be caught stealing on the play. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles of the Buck Showalter era have been a team generally known for strong baseball fundamentals, most notably with their solid defensive play. But this year has featured an unusual number of base-running blunders and ill-advised choices and efforts.

On Saturday evening against the Angels, the O’s practically ran themselves out of the game before they would come around to win it behind Ubaldo Jimenez, 5-0.

Jonathan Schoop did not get a good read on a J.J. Hardy double; and though he made it to the plate in time, an awkward slide resulted in him being called out (upon review) as never touching the dish. (And proof that God loves the Orioles is that the same reversal happened to Mike Trout in the ninth inning … awesome! Great throw from Adam Jones.)

With runners on the corners with none out, Caleb Joseph was caught in a rundown on a weak grounder to first base.  

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Gerardo Parra was soon thereafter thrown out going from second to third base on a ground ball to shortstop.

And even though that speedster Matt Wieters took advantage of four Angels defenders hanging around first base (due to the overshift) by catching them flat-footed and rushing down to second, the O’s did not take advantage of that situation.

Overall, the Orioles just don’t look great on the bases.

Of course, there are statistics kept for every possible baseball scenario, right down to how many errors were made by infielders while picking their nose. And indeed, there are base-running statistics.

Many of these numbers do not really tell you that much. Simple stats on bases stolen and base-stealing success rates do reveal what teams have speed. And of course the Orioles do not rank well at all with such numbers. (But literally, while writing this paragraph during the game, Chris Davis stole his first base of the season!)

Beyond this, a team that puts fewer runners on base in the first place is going to be a team that may well not have as many good metrics. And it could also be that a squad has fewer mistakes because they simply don’t have anywhere near as many opportunities to screw up as a team that hits and gets on base well.

But here are a few base-running statistics …

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OOB (Outs On Base) — These are outs made when attempting to reach a base, though it does not include force outs, caught stealing, etc.  The Orioles have made a total of 34 such outs. Only three other teams have fewer, although the O’s will have the three situations mentioned above added to these numbers tomorrow (which are broken down base by base).

BT (Bases Taken) — This records the total of bases advanced on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, balks, and defensive indifference.  The Orioles rank #14 in the American League in this category with a number of 82. The Yankees are first with 119.

XBT% (Extra Bases Taken Percentage) — This tracks the number of times a runner took an extra base on a single or more than two bases on a double, when possible. The Orioles rank 10th in the A.L. at 37%.  Not surprisingly the Royals are first at 47%.

Obviously, all of these numbers have some bearing on team speed. Overall, the Orioles would appear to statistically be fairly average in the league in baserunning, though we would expect them to excel in a fashion like their defense.

Game Highlights

Ubaldo Jimenez was simply excellent and was the guy the Orioles bought for $50-million. In the post-game interview he himself commented that after hitting the first batter with a pitch, he thought to himself, “Here we go again!”  But Jimenez beautifully mixed his pitches — all of them having a lot of movement.  Eight innings, no runs, two hits.

In a recent article on Jonathan Schoop and Caleb Joseph, we wrote about how each is coming along and making good progress. Schoop had a single and drove home two runs on sac flies. Joseph had two hits including a home run – his 10th of the season and one more than he had in his initial big-league year of 2014.

Manny Machado continues to excel in multi-hit games, having four hits on the evening, including his 24th home run. It was his first occasion this season to get four hits in a game. Machado how has 36 multi-hit games, including 26 with two hits and nine with three hits.

On the other hand, Ryan Flaherty continued his lost condition at the plate, extending his hitless streak to nothing over the last 31 at-bats.  And Gerardo Parra was 0-for-5 … to be 6-for-29 for the Orioles. Corner outfield in the orange uniform must be a curse this year.