Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Worst case scenarios

Worst case scenarios. In Baltimore they're as seasonal as leaves changing color and the first flowers of spring.

Each year, there are some new faces in the dugout, some increased optimism that "this can be the year the O's take a step forward", and then boom! The Orioles are back in last place and fans are left to wonder why this keeps happening each year.

The 2011 Orioles weren't on many postseason lists, but they were supposed to play better baseball, maybe even finish with a record above .500. But after getting off to a hot 6-1 start, the Orioles have lost 10 of 12 and are facing another long season where the losses mount and the frustration and anger spreads through the fanbase like a cancer.

In 2010, the Orioles finished April with a 5-20 record and were at one point 2-16. The worst case scenario that year was the Orioles' inability to knock in runners in scoring position. At one point they were something like an astounding 2 for 50 with RISP. But as the season wore on and the losses mounted, it became clear that the O's just weren't any good. New faces like Garrett Atkins were excruciatingly bad, and Brian Roberts was lost for most of the season, ultimately contributing to a season that many O's fans would like to forget.

But then Buck Showalter arrived, snapped his fingers, and the Orioles began to play better -- much better -- finishing 34-23 under Buck's watch. And fans felt there was reason for legit hope in Baltimore again. Throw in a "good on paper" offseason where the Orioles added some power in the guise of Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds, a 6-1 start to the 2011 season, and Oriole fans were ready to line-up for playoff tickets.

But then the other shoe dropped -- another worst case scenario. Despite the big names in the line-up, the hitters haven't been, well, hitting.

Guerrero and his .943 career OPS? .663 OPS in 2011.

Lee and his .862 career OPS? .570 OPS in 2011.

Reynolds and his .810 career OPS? .606 OPS in 2011.

And what about the other guys? The ones who have been here for the last few years? Not much better....

Nick Markakis and his .825 career OPS? .591 OPS in 2011.

Adam Jones and his .743 career OPS? .681 OPS in 2011.

Luke Scott and his .853 career OPS? .666 OPS in 2011.

Only Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters have avoided being terrible at the plate, with a .759 and .789 OPS respectively.

By the same token, the pitching, with a 4.74 team ERA, is good for 14th in the AL. Their struggles have no doubt contributed to the Orioles woes, but they have also allowed lot of runs in single games (13 vs Texas, 15 vs New York and a pair of 8 run losses to Cleveland) which has inflated the ERA. The starting pitchers (Jeremy Guthrie, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta) have been decent thus far, minus one or two bad appearances from Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman. Meanwhile, the bullpen clearly has a "A team" and a "B team".

All this adds up to a 2-10 record over the last 12 games. Is it just a bad streak of baseball or is it a sign of things to come?

So there you have it. Another worst case scenario: the hitters aren't hitting and to a lesser extent, the pitching is the worst in the AL.

Remeber that hope we had after the finish to last season? After the 6-1 start?

It's Baltimore, folks. Nothing lasts forever.

No comments: