Baltimore Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen and Run Support


Aug 16, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen (16) pitches during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen certainly cannot complain about any lack of run support on Sunday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics. Giving up a first-inning run and struggling with some high pitch counts, it looked for the first two innings like the battle of the vowels might again come down to the O’s needing to walk-off a homer against the A’s.

But then the Orioles scored 18 runs on 26 hits, as we yesterday chronicled all the things that went well in an incredible offensive explosion. It was monstrous, even by slow-pitch softball standards.

Buck Showalter, Adam Jones and several other players remarked about how, at different times in a baseball career, one gets to live on both sides of games such as these.

And Wei-Yin Chen has lived on both sides when it comes to the run support he has received. The win yesterday was only the seventh this season for Chen, who tallied a total of 16 last year. So he’s not having a season that is nearly as good, right? Nope! It is actually a bit better this year than in 2014.

Let’s look at some numbers. First, here are his basic categorical stats from his four years in Baltimore … (OBA = opponent batting average) …


Clearly by these numbers, Chen is having a very good season in spite of his record. Records can lie — at least a little bit — but the earned run average, especially for starters, tends to tell the truth over time. And I would submit that the WHIP tells the most truth, and clearly it is quite decent at 1.170 this year … very good for a starter.

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Looking at the won-loss record, one would immediately assume that Chen surely had some good run support from the offence in 2014, and that is true. Here are the averages of numbers of runs scored by the Orioles in Chen’s four years in Baltimore …

2012 — 4.6

2013 — 4.1

2014 — 5.7

2015 — 3.6

That final number for this year is actually from before the 18-run game on Sunday. Once that is factored in, the average rises immediately to 4.2 runs per game.

The great web site tracks run support in three categories: 0 to 2 run per game, 3 to 5, and 6 or more. Let me chart that for you also over the four years, giving the totals in each category as well as Chen’s ERA and won-loss record for each …


Indeed, the chart above demonstrates the great run support that Chen received in 2014 on his way to a 16-7 record. And though he appears to not be having a year of 2015 that is as good, actually it could successfully be argued that it is better.

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It is also interesting to see that Chen pitches best in the closer games. That stands to reason, as a pitcher really needs to bear down. It is discouraging to be pitching with no run support, making a pitcher fear the slightest mistake. And on the other end of the spectrum, a pitcher can feel less of a demand to be precise when playing with a lead.

It would be great for the Baltimore Orioles to re-sign Wei-Yin Chen after the season, as he becomes a free agent. But these numbers are good enough to likely receive a bigger contract elsewhere. I would bet on Seattle, with the cooler climate and Asian population base.

Next: The hitting troubles of J.J. Hardy

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