Baltimore Orioles: The Los Angeles Dodgers Bring Their Power To Camden Yards
By Nick Stevens
The Baltimore Orioles are back in action today as they begin a three-game set against the top team in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Knowing that the Baltimore Orioles were going to enter mid-September in the position they are currently in, I circled one September series on my calendar before the season started as one I would be making a trip to Camden Yards for. Starting tonight, the Los Angeles Dodgers bring their 93 wins, +233 run differential, and 255 home runs to Baltimore for a three-game set against one of the league’s worst pitching staffs.
Why circle this series on my calendar? I live for Orioles baseball, but I’m also a fan of all baseball (except the Yankees and Red Sox) and have never had the opportunity to see Clayton Kershaw pitch in person. With my wife expecting to give birth to our first child any day now, I won’t be at Camden Yards this week for this series, and neither will Kershaw, but the Dodgers are still bringing some major firepower to Baltimore as they look to wrap up the regular season with the top record in the National League.
The Orioles are coming off four-straight losses to the Texas Rangers and remain at just 47 wins on the season, one shy of last year’s win total of 48. We looked at four things we were watching for in that series and hit on three of the four (Trey Mancini ended his home run drought with HR number 30, Hanser Alberto capitalized against a lefty-heavy staff, and Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro continued to impress). So, what’s keeping our interest in this LA series? We found three things worth watching for.
Hanser Alberto is still in the hunt.
Yes, we’re recycling this one and I’m happy to do so. MLB.com’s Joe Trezza recently wrote about Alberto’s shot at an American League batting title, introducing his piece with a line that describes an innocent scenario, yet it’s a scenario which Alberto has capitalized on over and over again this season.
“Alberto didn’t hit it particularly hard, just 84.9 mph, but his placement was perfect. The ball found grass.” He has one of the lowest average exit velocity numbers in baseball, he swings at the first pitch nearly 10% above league average, owns one of the lowest walk rates in baseball, yet also owns one of the lowest strikeout rates in the game. He’s a mystery and one of the feel-good stories of 2019.
Alberto went 5/18 against Texas, with three of those hits coming in one contest. Not exactly ideal numbers if he wants to close the gap in the batting title race, but he enters Tuesday in fourth place, behind Houston’s Michael Brantley who now sits in third at .323.
New York’s DJ LeMahieu sits in second at .326 and Chicago’s Tim Anderson ranks first at .334, climbing onto the qualified leaderboards at 107 games played.
Alberto gets just one lefty this series (Rich Hill on Thursday), so we’ll see what he can do with 19 games remaining on the schedule. He very likely won’t win the award, but it’s fun to have him in the conversation. The guy who was designated for assignment four times this offseason. Four times!