This afternoon, I watched my favorite baseball movie of all-time, Moneyball. The basic premise of this film, for all who have not seen this movie yet, is about the Athletics general manager, Billy Beane, doing something that was new to baseball at the current time: using statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picked for the team. The main statistic Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, emphasizes is the particular player’s on-base percentage (OBP). Beane only cares about runners getting on base whether that is from a walk or a hit and getting the opposing pitcher’s pitch count up early.
The Baltimore Orioles could take a page out of this movie. Yes, they have scored the sixth most runs in Major League Baseball (102) and have the second highest collective batting average among all Major League ball clubs (.274). Nobody is denying their offensive output. Yet, there are two alarming stat lines that Orioles fans should be concerned about.
The Baltimore Orioles have three players in the top 25 for most strikeouts in the American League. Chris Davis is tied for 10th place with 24 K’s already this season. Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop are tied for 22nd with 21 K’s a piece. Davis had an alarming 199 strikeouts last season, which is probably part of the reason why he ended up third in the AL MVP voting and not higher. Davis is trying to not reach that number again this season.
Jones, especially, is striking out in crucial situations. All the pitches he appears to be swinging at for the third strike are low and away. I am not sure why, but he just cannot seem to lay off of this pitch. In the past Toronto series, Jones had bases loaded with two outs and struck out on three pitches (the last two pitches being low and away). The rapidness at which Jones decides to swing at pitches leads nicely into the second category the O’s are having trouble in.
Pitches per Plate Appearance
Everyone who follows the Orioles knows they are not afraid to swing the bat. However, this lack of fear can be detrimental to the Orioles in certain situations. It surely was when Jones was up to bat with bases loaded and two outs. In that case, Jones should have worked the count and at least waited for the pitcher to throw a ball in the strike zone. All three of the balls Jones swung at were clearly out of the [strike] zone. If he had not swung, he would be looking at a 3-0 count and the odds of him walking and scoring in a run would have gone up without question.
Currently the Orioles have six players in the American League Top 40 for least amount of pitches seen per plate appearance on average.
- Steve Lombardozzi (ranked 4th) sees 3.30 pitches per plate appearance.
- Jonathan Schoop (ranked 16th) sees 3.52 pitches per plate appearance.
- Matt Wieters (ranked 26th) sees 3.64 pitches per plate appearance.
- Nelson Cruz (ranked 27th) sees 3.65 pitches per plate appearance.
- Adam Jones (ranked 28th) sees 3.66 pitches per plate appearance.
- Nick Markakis (ranked 37th) sees 3.80 pitches per plate appearance.
I know it may seem to some that this is a pointless stat, but when the Orioles have runners in scoring position and the next batter swings at the first pitch and pops it up to end the inning, this stat becomes extremely relevant. So Orioles listen up! Be patient. Don’t chase any balls out of the strike zone. Wait for your pitch. And drive ‘em deep.