Random Tirade of the Week: Baserunner Edition
Nothing is really going on in Birdland recently. All is quiet on the trade front (there’s only 4 days left though so get moving O’s!) and they lost again last night (not a terrible game though). So, I feel it’s a great time to go on a rant about something that’s really been pissing me off as of late.
With runners on, the typical Orioles line-up (including Derrek Lee, Brandon Davis, Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Felix Pie, and Vlad Guerrero) have a .238 average with runners on. With runners in scoring position, those same 9 have a batting average of .259. Overall, those 9 players batting average sits at .254. In general, the O’s hit better when there’s runners in scoring position. However, they hit worse when there’s a runner on first.
You’re probably thinking there’s no problem with this but I have a very big problem with it. That problem has to do with home runs. Offense is on the decline this season as it was last season. That’s obvious. The year (or years) of the pitcher is back among us. The Orioles are no different as they are scoring less runs especially after the off-season signings they made in order to boost the offense.
However, the Orioles are different in one way. They rely very heavily on the long ball for scoring. About 43% of their runs come from home runs, which is about 10% greater than the major league average. The Orioles have hit 116 home runs so far this season, good for 6th most in the majors (behind the Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Blue Jays). 71 of those home runs, or 61%, come with the bases empty. This is one of the reasons the O’s keep losing games. They’re very good at hitting solo home runs but pretty bad at hitting homers when men are on base. Why? They have grounded into the 2nd most double plays with 96 (trailing St. Louis who has grounded into 111). A typical inning would look like this: J.J. Hardy gets to first, Nick Markakis grounds into a DP, Adam Jones comes up and hits a home run. If Markakis hadn’t hit that grounder, the home run by AJ would have scored at least 2 runs, 3 if Nick had gotten on base as well.
It’s so frustrating for a team to be pretty decent home run hitters but for them to be solo shots over and over again and not do much in order to allow the team to win. The players need to have more patience at the plate, more discipline in order to not ground into so many DPs so that home runs aren’t wasted.