Oct 1, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; A general view of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
It has indeed been a strange season for the Baltimore Orioles. The high hopes after the 96-win 2014 campaign have led to the most common word describing this year – “disappointing.”
The weirdness began early. Spring training was not great, as significant pieces of the team struggled. Bud Norris was dreadful, got terribly sick, and never figured it out. J.J. Hardy was hurt, with an injury we found out this week lingered throughout the year. Matt Wieters was not ready for the beginning of the year.
After getting off to a 7-10 start, the Orioles won three straight, the first two of these being a Saturday walk-off homer, 10th-inning shot by David Lough that beat Koji Uehara and the Red Sox 5-4. The next day the Birds pasted them 18-7 on a Sunday with 43,800 fans.
But then came the riots. And the O’s would not play again until that weird, zero attendance game on a Wednesday afternoon against the White Sox, winning 8-2 and evening their record at 10-10.
The venue for the coming weekend series with the Rays was moved to St. Petersburg, where the Orioles would win two of the three games. But the Orioles were several games played behind everyone else. They would next lose four straight, and thus continued the mediocre up and down season that hovered around .500 … getting seven games above on June 28, and falling seven games under on September 7th. They could just never get over the hump and sustain a streak as in recent years.
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Some of the baseball statistical sites (like the awesome baseball-reference.com) track something called the “Pythagorean W-L” … a mathematical calculation that states what a team’s record should be relative to their number of runs scored versus runs allowed. If you have a very equal number of each, it should mean that your record will be about .500. If you have many more runs scored than allowed, it would stand to mathematical reason that your record should reflect that by being well above 50/50, or, at the end well above 81-81.
This does not always work out in real life, which is why they play the games and keep score each day. At the moment of this writing (between games of the Yankees double-header, two games before the end of the season), the Orioles have a 79-81 record. They have outscored opponents this year 700-686, and therefore their record should be a bit better at 82-78.
Until recently, the Orioles were actually in the top quarter of teams; and even though the Orioles were 14-13 in September, they were outscored by 31 runs over that one-sixth of the season.
Another great oddity in this regard was the Orioles’ 2012 season, where they barely outscored opponents, yet won 93 games. It was the year of winning all of those one-run and extra-inning games. That was a special team, and it spoke so well of them that they were able to do that.
Here is a chart over the past five years (remembering that this is lacking the final two games this year), noting what the Pythagorean W/L should be, and what the final record was …
Charting these numbers does show just how well the pitching performed last year. And it also shows a rather remarkable similarity in runs scored, with a narrow variable over the five years.
But in every year of the past five, except for this year, the Orioles played at least at or better (way better in 2012) than the simple expectation upon total runs scored or allowed. And this adds more weight beyond the general observation that this was a team that never put it together with their pitching and hitting and overall play as a unit. And it shows that there is more than enough blame to go around.