Baltimore Orioles: And the Hole Grows Deeper


Aug 25, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) reacts after missing a ground ball at third base in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles continue to dig the hole deeper and deeper in terms of hopes for a return to the playoffs even as a wildcard team. A 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday evening was their sixth consecutive defeat, dropping their season record under .500 at 62-63.

Over this six-game losing streak, the Orioles have scored only 15 runs, while allowing 39. However, they have been twice beaten when the opponent has scored only three runs, and twice with four runs. But it has been proven to be 100% impossible to win when the other team scores more runs than you do!

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It is also difficult to win when your first, third, and fourth hitters in the lineup combine for an 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts.

We have to speak the truth right now and say that the Baltimore Orioles are currently not a very good ball club.

While there is little explanation for seven losses to the Twins this year, it does make sense why anyone would lose to the Kansas City Royals. Now at 77-48, they are a well-structured club and seem to be the prototype for the modern game of baseball. The sport is continuously morphing, but KC seems to have it figured out right now, and all teams would do well to learn from it. The Orioles only have a couple of the pieces of the puzzle.

Looking statistically at the Royals and where they stand in the American League in varied categories, they dominate in few ways. But the total package when put together makes them the cream of the crop this year.

They are dead last in the league in home runs with 99 (whereas the O’s have 162). Some of that is the ballpark in which they play. However, they are fifth in doubles (223) and second with triples (34).  The Orioles rank 14th and 9th respectively. And the Royals hit 15 points higher than the O’s in total average. Put this all together and the Orioles are only three-thousands higher in total OPS – fifth in the AL, versus sixth for KC.

But KC is the better-fit team to win close games by their style of offense. And this is the need in the modern game of baseball with lower scoring and strong bullpens. The Orioles are now 17-23 in one-run games, whereas the Royals are 21-11, and 8-2 in extra-inning contests.

Here is a huge statistical difference between the two clubs: The Orioles have struck out a total of 1016 times, as compared to only 711 for the Royals — the best in the league by far. Yet at the same time, KC has the fewest number of bases on balls in the A.L.  So they work counts and put balls into play with a decent on base percentage.

And the Royals have speed. They are second in stolen bases with 83, whereas the O’s are last with only 34. This speed especially helps them in the outfield. And Kansas City is very athletic, being more than guys who can simply hit and throw from a standing position.

In 2014, the Royals demonstrated the model of having a shut-down bullpen as a prescription for success. And they are the best in 2015. In this regard, the Orioles have a similar strength, along with similar strengths as defensive teams.

Starting pitching is everything? The Royals’ starters have the fewest innings pitched in the A.L.

Actually, the starting pitching is only marginally better for the Royals – who are 11th in the American League in ERA for starters, whereas the Orioles are 13th.  And the Royals’ starters have thrown the least number of innings by starting pitchers in the entire A.L.  So much for the theory that starting pitching is everything.

But again, the bullpen of the Royals is the best with a 2.34 ERA and 44 saves. The Orioles rank third at 2.86. Only Tampa Bay has more bullpen innings pitched than KC (by two innings)… so again, the theory of an overused bullpen does not hold true for the best record in the league.

All in all, the stats show the Royals to be a better than average team for sure, but not a dominant team, other than the bullpen and team speed. But putting it all together, the combined talents comprise a team that can fight and win close games. Remember when the Orioles used to do that?

Next: Royals sink O's and Jimenez

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