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Why the Orioles Are Not as Good as They Appear

Chris Davis hit .221 and struck out 219 times. Hyun-soo Kim only had 22 RBI’s in 95 games. Matt Wieters hit .243 and only played 117 games at catcher. No starter pitched over 180 innings or had an ERA lower than 3.61. The two best parts of their roster only pitched a combined 146 innings out of the team’s 1432.0 IP pitched. Their best hitter only had 640 at bats out of the team’s 5,524 at bats. How did the Orioles even make the Wild Card Game in 2016?

The B&B boys were incredible for the Orioles this year. In fact, incredible is an understatement. Zach Britton and Brad Brach combined for 1.36 ERA with 166 K’s in 146 IP. This is one of the main reasons the Orioles did so well. When leading after 7 innings, the Orioles were 69-2, good for a .972 W/L%. This could continue into next season, however the Mets are calling about Brach and there have been rumors about the Orioles considering trading Britton. If you take those two away, the bullpen will be immensely worse, with huge emphasis on the word immensely.

The Orioles record when giving up four or more runs was 23-65, while their record when giving up three or less runs was 66-8. For a team that relies so much on offense, why did they not win more games when they gave up four or more runs? The O’s had 35 games where they scored seven runs or more, including a ridiculous SIX games where they scored 11 runs. In those 35 games they scored  328 of their 744 runs scored all season. That means that 44% of the entire 2016 Orioles runs, came in just 35 games. The O’s did a lot of this with power, as they lead all of baseball in 2016 with 253 team homers. The next closest? St. Louis Cardinals with 225. With the upcoming losses of Mark Trumbo, Wieters, and Pedro Alvarez,  the Orioles are losing 86 of those 253. Even if the Orioles resign Trumbo, it’s probable that he won’t hit 47 home runs again, as he’s averaged 26 home runs a season coming into 2016. Trumbo is most likely looking to cash in during his first free agency, so the Orioles are probably not willing to pay free-agent prices for Trumbo. The O’s typically don’t resign players they lose in free agency, albeit Chris Davis.

Asking this team’s rotation to only give up three runs or less most nights is a near impossible task. A rotation of Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Yovani Gallardo doesn’t sound awful, although they were. Actually, with the way the rotation pitched, awful is putting it lightly. The Orioles starters ERA was a 4.72. That ERA is for every pitcher who started a game, and only counts the games that player started. Gallardo joined the club after signing a two year deal for 20 million with a third year team option for 13 million or 2 million dollar buyout. The Orioles would be stupid to pick up his option after the 2017 season as Gallardo pitched to a 5.42 ERA with 85 K’s in only 118 IP in 2016. After a great season with Texas in 2015, Gallardo fell off a cliff. Jimenez has had great seasons in the Majors, most notably 2010 when he had a 2.88 ERA with the Colorado Rockies leading to his first (and only to date) all-star game. Jimenez was given 50 million dollars from the Orioles hoping he can recapture the magic from 2010. He never did, nor did he ever even come close. Coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, Ubaldo pitched to a 5.44 ERA with 125 K’s in only 142.1 IP. Expect Jimenez to continue pitching this way, as he has done nothing since he arrived to Baltimore to show he is able to pitch any better.

The Orioles used nine starters in 2016, which led to no starting pitcher having above 180 innings pitched. The rotation was so bad that Mike Wright pitched 63.2 innings as a starter, while giving up a 6.22 ERA. Gallardo and Jimenez have both had great years in the Majors, but with both of them coming off their worst year, it’s hard to know what expect from them moving forward. 

With a rotation this bad, and offense that can’t score an equal amount of runs on a daily basis, it’s incredible they made it to where they were.  With 744 runs scored and 715 runs allowed, the O’s Pythagorean W/L was 84-78. How did they did they make it to the AL wild card? That would be from good-old fashion luck.