Underlying Numbers Show Orioles’ Offense is Sputtering

Apr 8, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Pedro Severino (28) singles during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Pedro Severino (28) singles during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Early statistics indicate that the Orioles’ offense is in serious trouble

Now a week into the 2021 season, the Baltimore Orioles have a 4-3 record that places them atop of the American League East division. However, the team’s early offensive metrics suggest that a dramatic downturn is on the horizon for the O’s if their approach at the plate isn’t corrected.

On Thursday, following the Orioles’ 7-3 loss in their home opener against the Boston Red Sox, Joe Trezza of MLB.com shared a statistic on Twitter about Baltimore’s alarming strikeout habits.

Here are the Orioles’ strikeout totals in their last 5 games:

  • Apr. 4 @ BOS: 15 K’s in 44 AB’s (34.1%)
  • Apr. 5 @ NYY: 13 K’s in 31 AB’s (41.9%)
  • Apr. 6 @ NYY: 14 K’s in 34 AB’s (41.2%)
  • Apr. 7 @ NYY: 17 K’s in 37 AB’s (45.9%)
  • Apr. 8 vs. BOS: 14 K’s in 33 AB’s (42.4%)
  • RUNNING TOTAL: 73 K’s in 179 AB’s (40.8%)

As of Friday morning, the Baltimore Orioles have the highest strikeout rate of any team in Major League Baseball, sitting nearly 2% above the second-place Atlanta Braves and 5% higher than any other team in the American League.

Strikeout-heavy hitting strategies are what baseball has defaulted to in recent seasons, as the league has begun shifting towards the Three True Outcomes approach: home runs, walks, and strikeouts. So, having a high strikeout rate is serviceable if the team hits home runs and walks a lot to go along with it.

The problem with the Orioles fitting into the Three True Outcomes mold is their lack of power-hitting and free passes. Baltimore has the second-worst walk rate in Major League Baseball and the fourth-worst Isolated Power (ISO) in the big leagues as well. According to FanGraphs’ team WAR leaderboards, the Baltimore Orioles have produced the second-worst offense in the American League to this point in the season, beating out only the Oakland Athletics.

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Strong outings from their starting pitchers and clutch innings from their relievers have helped shield the Orioles’ offense from having to take the blame for too many losses in 2021, as the team holds a record above .500 through the first week of the season. However, if the Orioles’ offense doesn’t begin to exhibit a change in its approach, Baltimore may be in for a very unpleasant season ahead.

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