Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Battle of the Birds

Last week I looked at the Red Sox. It was close but the Jays should triumph over the Bean Towner’s. Today I want to take a look at the Orioles.

The TV colour guys are going back to last year when the Orioles did a great job of coming up thru the pack unnoticed, in stealth mode. At the end of the season they were, I think, the best team in the MLB going 16 and 5 – splitting their last series with the Jays. They were a team that had wildly different numbers. They had the most strike out by hitters and they ranked 28th in OBP. Also they had seven hitters strike out 100 or more times. The long ball was one of their few strong points. In spite of it all, they made it to the postseason. In the off-season they made almost no changes to their line-up.

Again, I will be using the numbers I feel best reflect the most accurate assessment for both the offense and defense, ERA+ for pitchers and OPS+ for hitters. It, as a single number, includes the most information that is useful.

The Orioles starting pitchers had an ERA+ of -117.8 and a WHIP of 1.274. The starters have just 17 combined years in the MLB. The whole of the pitching staff had an ERA+ of 109 and WHIP of 1.291. This compares to the Jays – starters for 2013– ERA+ of 114 and WHIP of 1.264. Both starting rotations have two lefties. Closer, Jim Johnson, had an ERA+ of 170 and WHIP of 1.019, very impressive. So it looks like the Orioles have slightly better pitching.  I hope not. The Jays still need a year mostly free of the DL.

For position players the OPS+ -108.7, OBP -.364 and BA of -.266. Their MLB career numbers are OPS+ -100.5, OBP -.318 and BA of -.262. Rookie sensation, Manny Machado, only played in 51 games, had 191 at bats producing an ERA+ of 98. And for the Jays we have an OPS+ -111.8, OBP  -322 and BA of 265.6. The OPS+ shows that for ballpark adjustments the Jays get on base more often.

These are just numeric comparisons. As any Jays fans know, anything unpredictable can happen to the season.  Numbers do not make a team. There are way too many variables. The Jays have made their moves in the offseason and I, for one, am very happy with the roster in every aspect. The Orioles have chosen to stay the course. They may be right. They got close last year. And who knows, maybe Buck Showalter is a miracle worker. Baseball Prospectus has the Orioles dropping to the bottom of the AL East for 2013, with only 74 wins. I hope so, but doubt it.  They are young but have the tools to compete. The Jays have seven All-Stars to the Orioles’ four – none in the starting rotation.

They will not finish like the Jays did last year. But they will certainly finish behind us.

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