Baltimore Orioles: Lack of Plate Discipline Killing the O’s


Aug 28, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) reacts to a called third strike in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Texas won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another loss for the Baltimore Orioles. This time it was 4-1 to the Texas Rangers. But the common theme of the last 11 games (2-9) was evident again: poor run support and high strikeout numbers. The Orioles managed only three hits while striking out 12 times.

It is no secret that the Baltimore Orioles are a free-swinging team. It has been talked about a great deal. Buck Showalter has largely avoided addressing this issue with the team, often speaking to the media that he would not put much emphasis upon more plate discipline in fears that such would take away from an aggressive approach.

I understand this in raw form, but like anything there is a time where too much of something becomes a net negative. And that is the situation now with the Orioles.

In my view, Rick Dempsey is a very good baseball analyst; and I frankly think he would make a great manager. On the MASN pre-game show, he spoke to this issue and of the way that opposing scouts have seen this wild swinging at balls outside the strike zone. And this is especially true on breaking pitches. So that is what the Orioles are seeing. They are not getting good pitches to hit because pitchers know they don’t have to bring the ball to the O’s hitters.

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The statistics verify this argument. The Orioles rank dead last of all 30 MLB teams in terms of the number of walks per strikeout. The rate is .293. Toronto is the best at .485, the Red Sox fourth at .436, and the Yankees fifth at .434.

The Orioles are #2 in total strikeouts in the American League.  They trail the Mariners by only nine and at this current rate will soon be in the lead.

Some more advanced statistical metrics continue to paint this same picture. Here are a few of them and how the Orioles rank in the American League:

O-Swing% – Swings at pitches outside the strike zone. The Orioles have the worst number in this regard at 33.9%.

Z-Swing% – Swings at pitches inside the zone. The Birds are #2 in the league at 69.6. This would seem good, and if they were a contact team like the Royals it would be. But all this shows is that the O’s hitters never see a pitch they don’t like, and the next category proves it!

Swing% – Swings at pitches. The Orioles swing at 49.9% of pitches, the highest in the American League.

O-Contact% – Number of pitches on which contact was made on pitches outside the zone. The O’s make contact on 63.3% of pitches swung at that were not in the zone. Only two teams were worse.

Z-Contact% – Number of pitches on which contact was made on pitches inside the zone. It doesn’t get much better here for the Orioles when hitting true strikes, as they were only 12th in the league in this category.

SwStr% – Swings and misses. Put this all together, and the Orioles are #1 in the A.L. at 11.3% of pitches seen being swung at and missed.

I’m not sure what can be done at this point or anytime soon about this lake of plate discipline. But we really didn’t need the proof of these stats to tell us that this has become a problem. Buck likes to talk about his own category that he calls the “contact to damage ratio.”  That isn’t working well right now, except for one game in the past eight when they hit five homers.

It is getting late.

Next: Seems very difficult for the Orioles to win baseball games