Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Gold, Jerry. GOLD!

I realize that I have posted in a few days, but I've been busy and there hasn't been much news lately. The Orioles are paring down their roster (and when it's finalized I imagine I'll comment), but otherwise I'm just waiting for the season to start.

So here I present my plan for turning the Orioles from a last-place team into a World Champion.
I'm expecting the team to contact me shortly to offer some sort of leadership position in the organization. Read more ...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

USA-Japan, Defense Is Important

After some between-round roster restocking (Evan Longoria replaced the injured Chipper Jones), Roy Oswalt looks to shutdown the previous WBC champion, Japan. The US is still starting Mark DeRosa at first-base for some reason, and Jeter at short instead of Rollins (who's DH'ing). My memory of Davey Johnson was that he's a very good manager, but he hasn't shown optimum roster usage thus far (if the goal is to win).

Top 1:
  • Brian Roberts with a drive to dead center-field, and it's gone for a lead-off home run. Two pitches in, and it's 1-0 USA. Looks like someone is ready for the season.
  • After a Jeter groundout, Rollins bloops one into short center that falls just between the center-fielder and the shortstop for a single.
  • Wright grounds out weakly, and then Dunn strikes out looking to end the inning.
Bottom 1:
  • Ichiro! starts things off for team Japan. Slow bouncer to Roberts, who throws him out at first.
  • Oswalt gets the second batter looking with a nice 94 mph fastball on the inside corner.
  • And he starts the next hitter with a 72 mph curveball for a strike. That is a serious adjustment the batters need to make. Groundball to first with a toss to Oswalt covering for the third out.
Top 2:
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka gets a lot of movement on his fastball, but it doesn't have the velocity I expected (88-91 instead of 93-95). He walks McCann, but leaves him stranded.
Bottom 2:
  • A HBP and a singles puts runners on the corners with nobody out.
  • A one-out sac fly ties the game at 1-1, but Oswalt is able to avoid any further damage.
  • At least Roy's looking a lot better on the mound than Dice-K.
Top 3:
  • Roberts chases a splitter (?) out of the zone for Matsuzaka's second K.
  • Jeter grounds out for a second time, before Rollins laces a single into right-field. And Jimmy is first-pitch running, stealing second due some help from a high throw.
  • Wright brings him in with a double to deep right-center field - he gets a slider moving away from him and just flicks his wrists at it. That nice piece of hitting gives the US back the lead, 2-1.
  • With first-base open, Adam Dunn gets what looks like an unintentional intentional walk.
  • There's already some action in the pen for Japan, but they won't need it yet as Daisuke throws a high fastball by Braun for the third out.
Bottom 3:
  • Good job by Wright at third to charge and bare-hand a bunt and throw the runner out by a half-step.
  • Ichiro! tests Wright again with a hard grounder. The third-baseman knocks it down, but his throw goes by DeRosa at first and Suzuki ends up at second.
  • A flyout and a pop-out leaves him there though.
Top 4:
  • First 1-2-3 inning of the day for Daisuke. Bullpen's still warming though.
Bottom 4:
  • Lead-off single just passed a diving Roberts at second.
  • Single to center and Japan has something going again.
  • Kosuke Fukudome grounds what should be a double play ball to second, but the hop eats up Brian Roberts and goes into right-field. The error ties that game at 2-2, and puts runners on the corners with no outs.
  • Flyball to Dunn in right is deep enough (at least with his arm) to bring in the runner from third. Japan is on top, 3-2.
  • Now it's Dunn's range, as he can't run down what would be a routine flyball for Nick Markakis. The resulting triple extends the lead to 4-2. The US pen is getting ready, even though it's been more the defenses fault than Oswalt's.
  • Single to short right makes it 5-2. The WBC isn't double elimination anymore, so if the US loses then they're out.
  • Ichiro! grounds out to third, with Wright having no chance to turn two.
  • Double into right-center on an inside-our swing, and it's 6-2. That's it for Oswalt. Despite pitching OK, they're bringing John Grabow in.
  • Groundout finally ends the inning.
Top 5:
  • Roberts grounds towards second-base, but it's actually the shortstop ranging far to his right that makes the play.
  • Jeter with a line-drive single up the middle.
  • Rollins works a walk. One big swing and the US is right back in the game.
  • Wright goes down looking on a fastball that was at least three inches outside. That'll be Daisuke's last hitter. Despite being generally outpitched by Oswalt, he the one with the lead.
  • Lefty in to face Dunn. The pitcher falls behind 3-1, but comes back to K the Big Donkey and leave a couple runners stranded.
Bottom 5:
  • Grabow sets the side down in order. Now they need some offense.
Top 6:
  • McCann gets a one-out walk, but the US can't score. Still 6-2 Japan.
Bottom 6:
  • Now it's JP Howell's turn to keep the deficit at four. He gives up a pair of singles with a flyout in between.
  • Any more runs, and this game may be out of reach for team USA. Howell is able to get out of the jam, with a groundout and a K.
Top 7:
  • Jimmy Rollins with a two-out triple down the right-field line, but Wright can't bring him in. Outs are getting scarce.
Bottom 7:
  • Matt Thorton is the third consecutive lefty coming out of the pen for the US.
  • He has the best night yet, striking out the side.
Top 8:
  • Braun pulls a one-out double down the third-base line.
  • McCann with a very good at bat, works a free pass.
  • Mark DeRosa doubles down the third-base line. The ball bounces around in left, allowing both runners to score and DeRosa to get to third. Lead is down to 6-4, and Evan Longoria will come to the plate for Granderson as the potential tying run.
  • Longoria's going for it too, taking some big swings at mid-90s fastballs and fouling them back. A diving splitter finally gets him to swing overtop of it.
  • It'll take a hit now to bring DeRosa in, with Roberts comung to the plate. Brian hits a grounball up the middle, but the pitcher is able to snag it and throw him out.
  • They're still down, but with only a two-run deficit (hopefully), they'll have a chance in the ninth.
Bottom 8:
  • And it'll be Joel Hanrahan's job to make sure the score doesn't change.
  • Not a good start, as Fukudome draws a walk.
  • A sac bunt and a groundout moves the runner to third with two down.
  • Grounder to Jeter at short, but his throw pulls DeRosa off the bag at first and the runner from third scores to make it 7-4.
  • Scot Shields relieves Hanrahan, and allows the runner to steal second almost immediately.
  • Basehit by Ichiro! infront of Dunn in right brings the lead back up to four at 8-4.
  • Double into right-center scores Suzuki. 9-4.
  • Groundout to second finally ends the inning. It'll take some mighty big fireworks in the ninth for team USA to come back in this one.
Top 9:
  • Yu Darvish in to close this one out for Japan. Darvish throws pretty hard, and has a very interesting delivery where he almost stops mid-way through.
  • Jeter grounds out to short - one down.
  • Rollins strokes another single into right-field. It'll take a bunch of baserunners to pull this out.
  • Wright can't check his swing and heads back to the dugout - two down.
  • Dunn looks at a 96 mph fastball at the knees - three down.
Dunn's lack of range in right; DeRosa's lack of familiartiy with first-base; Jeter at short instead of Rollins; Roberts being a step down from Pedrioa with the glove (though - in all fairness to Brian - Pedroia is hurt and Roberts has hit well for the team). The difference between these two teams in the game was their defenses. The US made mistakes (or just weren't very good), and Japan didn't (and was). Final is 9-4. Japan moves on to faces Korea for the fifth time in this WBC (they're 2-2 thus far). The US goes home disappointed again. It's kind of interesting that without the versatility of Mark DeRosa, the injuries may have prevented the team from even getting this far. We'll see what happens in 2012.
Read more ...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Local Maximum Or Global Maximum?

When I discussed the contract that the Orioles gave to Nick Markakis, I projected his value to the team by assuming that he'll continue producing at the level that I have him projected at for 2009 (about 5.5 WAR). Now that may not be very fair to assume, so perhaps comparing Nick to other similar players and seeing how they preformed after the age of 24 may be more appropriate. This is essentially what BaseballProspectus' PECOTA model does, but this is a far (far) less detailed look at it using Chone's historical WAR. I pulled in the data for players comparable to Markakis, including those listed at Baseball Reference, ZiPS, PECOTA, as well as various scouting reports and just players who showed similar offensive profiles at the age of 24, concentrating on left-handed outfielders. Examples include Gary Matthews, Ben Grieve, Steve Kemp, Rusty Staub, and Ellis Burks.

The results, in handy-dandy graphical form (sorry, it's a little blurry; you can click for a clearer version, or just look at the general trends with Nick being in orange and the comparables average being red.):

With the bat, Nick started out just slightly above average but has had drastic improvement each year. His comps likewise started out low but got better relatively quickly, though not to the same degree. Unfortunately, that age-24 season was their peak performance, with a steady decline starting right after that.

Because he was very good on defense his first year, Nick saw only a small bump in WAR in season two. It was in 2008 that he really broke out, and his comps also saw a modest improvement going from age-22 to age-23, and much larger one going to age-24. Again, there is a fairly steady decline starting at age-25.

Nick is actually starting at a higher baseline, so his decline starting at age-25 (if it indeed occurs) will leave him as a more valuable player for the length of his contract. Nick was 40% better with the bat than his comps in his age-24 season, so I at least kept that advantage for him in projecting out his batting runs.

Even though several of his comparable players where done at a young age (Grieve and Kemp most immediately spring to mind), overall they were still able to provide above average offense well into their late 30's. The big age-related decline happens started at age-33, but they are still valuable hitters for a few years after that. With things like these, there is often a selection bias where only the players that were good enough to keep playing are measured. I tried to get around that by including zeroes for players after they were done through age 40 for everyone that isn't still active.

The WARs likewise show the comps as still being somewhat valuable (0.5-1.0 WAR) into their later 30's. There's a steady decline from 25 to around 31 (with a strange down-year at age-30) before a sharper one starts. This has Nick (assuming again that he's better than the composite) declining from 4 WAR to around 3.4 WAR in the first five years of his contract, with a dip to 2.5 WAR at age-30 before having a rebound to 3 WAR at age-31 (when he may be on another team). I would honestly be somewhat disappointed if Nick was just a solid occasional all-star level player for the next six years instead of the star perennial all-star level player he showed he could be last year. Not mad or upset - just disappointed. I am anxiously awaiting another data point to see whether we can adjust the graph to go more into Carl Yastrzemski territory instead of Jeff Burroughs territory.

Even given the downward sloping lines, production at the projected levels would be worth about $95 M to the Orioles (taking into account salary inflation and arbitration year discounts). I'm still (mostly) expecting Nick to be closer to a 5.5 WAR player than a 3.5 WAR player, but even with a reasonable decline he's still easily worth his $66 M contract. Oh yeah... it was a steal.

And sorry for the title. Read more ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not Quite King Of The Hill

Last year the Nationals cut injury plagued right-handed pitcher John Patterson, and I suggested that the Orioles look into picking him up. The team didn't, and Patterson is out of baseball now.

The Nationals have cut injury plagued right-handed pitcher Shawn Hill today. I was going to suggest that the Orioles look into picking him up, but stopped myself. Sometimes one really does learn from the past.

Best of luck to Hill, who was often effective when he's actually on the mound. Read more ...

Orioles Organization On The Upswing

Over at FanGraphs, they’ve been ranking the organizations one by one based on Ownership, Front Office, and Major and Minor League Talent. After so many losing seasons, every time the next team is revealed (they started at #30 – Washington) I expect it to be Baltimore. Well that day has finally arrived, with the O’s placing at #16.

Ownership: C. Basically, Peter Angelos has been meddlesome in the past but not since Andy MacPhail took over. If he keeps it up then the O’s are in a good position, having an owner that “wants to win and is willing to spend money to do so” but will let the baseball people make the baseball decisions. Can’t argue with that.

Front Office: B. It’s been bad in the past, but not since Andy MacPhail took over. He’s doing good things and taking the team in the right direction. The O’s are the first team to receive such a high grade in this category. Depending on what the scale looks like (who gets a B+, A-, etc.) and how MacPhail handles the move from 70-75 win team to 85-90 win team, this may need to be adjusted some (probably up).

Major League Talent: B-. “I don’t know if people realize it or not, but this team actually isn’t bad. Not just for the future, but right now… Honestly the Orioles could probably contend in the AL West this year – their division will hold them back, but the talent base is in place for a good run.” Ding, ding, ding. Markakis, Roberts, Jones are all-star players. Huff, Scott, Pie, and Mora are OK. Guthrie can pitch, and there is some potential behind him in Hill, Uehara, etc. There are many holes on the roster, but not nearly as many as their were even a few of years ago.

Minor League Talent: A-. “Matt Wieters Swings Both Ways? No. Both Ways Swing Matt Wieters.” “Matt Wieters Has Hit A 5-Run Homerun. Twice.” So this Wieters kid is pretty good. The O’s also have multiple tiers of pitchers, with Erbe, Hernandez, etc. coming in behind Tillman, Matusz, and Arrieta. A large part of the core of the next good O’s team is in the minors right now, and quickly approaching.

Overall: B-. Many years of sucking is hard to get over, but Wieters-Jones-Markakis is a great core and the pitching is on the way. The AL East is a tough division, but soon (maybe even 2010) the O’s will be good again.

I’m surprised that the Mariners (who haven’t been mentioned yet) are ranked ahead of the Birds., but I can’t really complain about the #16 spot. Of the 15 teams ranked above the Orioles (NYY, BOS, TBR, CLE, LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX, NYM, PHI, ATL, CHC, MIL, LAD, ARI), only the Rangers and the A’s haven’t been over .500 in at least one of the past two season (Texas was 89-73 in 2004, and Oakland was 93-69 in 2006). That means that of all the crappy organizations recently, the O’s are the best (and trending upward). Yaye!

[Edit: The M's got a B,B,C+,C+,B- vs. C,B,B-,A-,B- for the O's. The Mariners have a better owner, but the O's edge them out everywhere else. I'm not saying that the guy doing the rankings (Dave Cameron, also of USSMariner) is biased, but I think flipping the two is probably more correct. Especially since the difference in divisions is a large part the reason that Seattle as more likely to be competitive sooner.] Read more ...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Eye Of The Mediocre Relief Pitcher

The Mets tried to offer Rocky Cherry back to the Orioles after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft last year. The O's declined, and he was subsequently released by the Mets. Poor Rocky. Your first name makes me think you're tough enough to handle the rejection, whereas your last name doesn't. I'll miss you, but you also kind of suck. There's just no room in the O's pen - maybe come back if you can go 5-6 innings. Read more ...

USA-Puerto Rico, Regreting Putting Cabrera In

These two teams met recently, with Puerto Rico beating the USA 11-1 in a game that saw the mercy rule utilized. The winner moves on, and the loser goes home. And the US is starting Ted Lilly. Actually, given some of the rotations around in the tournament, Lilly would be the top pitcher for a number of them.

Top 1:
  • Ivan Rodriguez draws a rare walk with one out in the first.
  • The announcer are explaining pitch-sequencing as Lilly pitches to Carlos Beltran. The MLB Network isn't perfect, but it's definitely a step up from ESPN. Lilly gets Beltran looking with a big bending curveball.
  • Delgado grounds out to Youkilis at first, but the umpire rules the ball foul. Doesn't really matter as Pudge gets picked off.
Bottom 1:
  • The Orioles very own Brian Roberts is leading off for team USA. P.R. lefty Jonathan Sanchez gets him to flyout on the first pitch. To be honest, I think the US is a slight underdog in this game.
  • Jeter lines out to left. No real reason why he's playing shortstop instead of Jimmy Rollins, who's DHing. Rollins: 13.5 UZR last year. Jeter: -0.4 UZR last year (and -16.5 in '07).
  • Rollins - batting third - draws a walk and may be running. At least, Sanchez seems to think so. And for good reason, as Rollins steals second with no throw.
  • Youkilis flies out to right to end the inning.
Top 2:
  • Mark DeRosa showing his versatility, robbing Delgado of a hit with a dive in left-field.
  • Alex Rios takes Lilly deep and very gone. 1-0, Puertio Rico.
  • A flyout and a groundout ends it without any further damage.
Bottom 2:
  • David Wright lines a single off the mound and into center-field.
  • Adam Dunn runs the count full, but strikes out looking and a nice slider.
  • Wright gets a good jump off of Sanchez and steals second-base.
  • DeRosa singles to right, but with Rios and his cannon out there Wright is held up.
  • Brian McCann lifts a short flyball to left, and Wright decides to test Hiram Bocachica. The ball beat him, but was up the line a little and Wright with a great slide to avoid Soto's tag.
  • Also, nice job by DeRosa to move over to second. That ends up being big as Shane Victorino singling to center to give the US a 2-1 lead.
  • Roberts swings at the first pitch again, and lines out to center to end the inning.
Top 3:
  • Lilly walks Felipe Lopez on four pitches, with one out in the inning.
  • Inning ending strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play, with Bocachica swinging and missing and Lopez getting thrown out by a mile.
Bottom 3:
  • An infield single by Jeter is erased as Rollins grounds into a double play.
  • Shame, as Youk hits a bomb to left-field. 3-1 USA.
  • Wright walks, and there's action in the P.R. pen.
  • Sanchez ends his night by hitting Dunn with a pitch. Nelson Figueroa coming in.
  • He strikes out DeRosa to end the inning, but the lead was enhanced.
Top 4:
  • Pudge walks for a second time to start the fourth.
  • Lilly is laboring a little, but he's able to catch Beltran looking.
  • Delgado ties the game up with a two-run homer to dead center-field.
  • Lilly got pulled maybe a couple batters too late. His replacement, Joel Hanrahan, K's Rios swinging.
  • Soto draws a walk, but Hanrahan gets Alex Gonzalez to pop out to keep the game tied.
Bottom 4:
  • Carlos Beltran with an amazing leaping catch to rob Brian McCann of a home run to center-field.
  • Victorino grounds out to first to turn the line-up over.
  • Roberts goes a little deeper in the count this time, but flies out again anyway.
Top 5:
  • Matt Throton comes out dealing, striking out Bocachica swinging.
  • A flyout and a groundout make it a quick fifth for Thorton.
Bottom 5:
  • Jeter can't catch up to a high fastball and has to return to the bench.
  • Rollins catches a curveball on the foot and hobble off to first-base.
  • Youk puts another charge into one, but he hits it to the deepest part of the park and Beltran runs it down.
  • Rollins picks up his second bag of the night, stealing second even more easily this time.
  • Wright pops out to leave him stranded though.
Top 6:
  • Pudge walks for the third time in the game (after walking all of 23 total in 2008).
  • Beltran - after K'ing in his first two at bats - drops down a bunt. It's not a particularly good one, though, and Wright is able to throw him out.
  • Heath Bell, who started the inning, is issuing an intentional walk to Delgado with first-base open.
  • Rios with a base-hit up the middle passed a diving Jeter (would Rollins have gotten to it?) to give P.R. a 4-3 lead.
  • Bell comes out to K Soto with a nice slider down out of the zone.
  • Bernie Williams will pinch-hit for Alex Gonzalez. Will Jeter be able to restrain himslef from running to the plate and hugging him? Will new pitcher Scot Schields be able to take advantage of his poor bat-speed?
  • The Yankee legend (lowercase) grounds out to first to leave two runners stranded.
Bottom 6:
  • Lefty Javier Lopez drops down with his side-arm delivery and gets Dunn looking.
  • With two outs, McCann hits a long flyball to center, but Beltran is there.
Top 7:
  • Shields mows P.R. down for an easy 1-2-3 inning.
Bottom 7:
  • The Flyin' Hawaiian leads of with a single.
  • Roberts puts down a sac bunt (grrr) to move Victorino to second for Cap'n Jeter.
  • Jeter walks against Pedro Feliciano, who started this inning for P.R. They've got the bullpen warming up quickly as well.
  • Rollins flies out to right, but Rios' throw back in "hit" Victorino and rolled away allowing him to go to third. The umpires are discussing if Shane let the ball hit him or kicked it or what. Looks like they'll let it stand as is. I'll be generous and say Victorino didn't try to deflect the ball, but didn't really try not to deflect the ball.
  • Saul Rivera will come in to face Youkilis with two outs and runners on the corners.
  • Groundout to short, and it's still 4-3. Time is running out for team USA.
Top 8:
  • JJ Putz gets Pudge to ground to the right side. Roberts makes a nice diving stop and throws Rodriguez out from the outfield grass from his knees.
  • Nice splitter gets Beltran swinging. That's three K's on the night for Carlos, but he's made up for it with his play in center.
  • Delgado can't catch up to the fastball. Both '08 Mets go down swinging against their new teammate.
Bottom 8:
  • Good start to the eighth, as David Wright singles through the left side.
  • Dunn grounds into what should be a double play, but the relay pulls Delgado off the bag at first. Granderson pinch-runs for him.
  • DeRosa grounds to third, but Granderson was running on the 3-2 so they were able to stay out of the double play.
  • JC Romero is called on to face McCann, and he's able to get him swinging. Still 4-3 Puerto Rico.
Top 9:
  • Big, hard-throwing right Jon Broxton in for the ninth.
  • After a single and a steal by Rios, a grounder up the middle just passed a diving Jeter (that sounds familiar - and somehow expected, given that it was a dumb decision to not start Rollins out there) brings him in. 5-3 P.R.
  • Puerto Rico gets another hit but do not score. Two runs before three outs, or team USA goes home early again.
Bottom 9:
  • Victorino doing his job, punching a single through the right side to start the ninth.
  • Brian Roberts with a solid at bat, resulting in a single to center. The tying run is on base.
  • Make it happ'n Cap'n (sorry). Jeter lines out to right, with Victorino moving to third.
  • Roberts showing off those wheels, stealing second barely. Tying run in scoring position.
  • Rollins fights off a couple of good 3-2 pitches and draws a walk to load the bases for Youkilis.
  • Fernando Cabrera coming in (I though the announcer said Daniel Cabrera, who would actually be better for P.R., though he's not from there).
  • 3-1 count, and Cabrera misses the plate by two feet. Youk with the free pass forces in a run. 5-4, and they're still loaded for David Wright.
  • Ball one. Ball two. 2-1 count, and Wright bloops one just fair inside the right-field line. Two runs score, and the US wins 6-5!
  • I have to say, as soon as Cabrera came in I knew the game was going to be over for Puerto Rico. Bases loaded with one out and the middle of the line-up coming up. Of course you bring in the guy who can't throw strikes!
Exciting comeback in the ninth, and an injury plagued team USA is advancing to the next round. Smiles abound in the US dugout, and as players spill out onto the field. Awesome ending.
Read more ...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Venezuela-Puerto Rico, Hey Paella Man...

Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico! It's not team USA, but at least it's baseball. And Melvin Mora! Goooooal!!!


Rich Sutcliffe is going through the position players for each team and saying which has the advantage at each spot. Miguel Cabrera (Ven.) over Carlos Delgado (P.R.) at first - correct. Jose Lopez (Ven.) over Felipe Lopez (P.R.) at second - correct. And so on. For RF, the comparison was Bobby Abreu (Ven., 1.5 WAR last year) vs. Alex Rios (P.R., 5.4 WAR last year). Rios' defense was worth 2.31 wins. That is more than Abreu's offense (2.27 wins). It's no contest - Rios is way better. On the way through the positions I kept saying "don't pick Abreu, don't pick Abreu, don't pick Abreu." Then he picked Abreu. And I yelled "I knew he was going to pick Abreu!," and yet that knowledge didn't make me feel any better. It was like a Lewis Black moment. To the game:

Top 1:
  • I had absolutely no idea that Ian Snell was Puerto Rican - I always assumed he was white (and American). This happens all the time in baseball and it's always weird. I remember when I found out that Khalil Green was white - that one was really shocking, for some reason. (It goes the o
  • 95 mph on the black to K Gregor Blanco. Snell's bringing some heat in this one.
  • Down 0-2, Melvin inside-outs a pitch to right for a single. Very nice piece of hitting.
  • Magglio Ordonez is apparently friends with Hugo Chavez. That's pretty funny, but not to some Venezuelan fans.
  • Abreu can't check his swing on a slider and is Snell's second strike-out victim. Even #1 fan Rick Sutcliffe said he went around.
  • Miguel Cabrera leisurely swings at a slider and hits it ~420 ft off the wall in center for a double. Melvin stops at third and may be limping. Dammit. At least he's staying in the game.
  • Snell throws a 95 mph fastball past Carlos Guillen to strike-out the side. Maybe Pittsburgh won't be the worst team in the majors this year. (No, they probably still will be.)
Bottom 1:
  • It's King Felix on the mound for Venezuela. As USSMariner says, Happy Felix Day. Go Felix!
  • Mora is out at third on defense, but he still doesn't look right.
  • 1-2-3 and down goes Jesus Feliciano on a nasty slider.
  • Curveball on the outside corner (just off the corner really) gets Ramon Vazquez looking.
  • Just misses low with a couple fastballs to Beltran, who draws a walk.
  • Doesn't miss to Delgado, who knew it right away. Two half-innings; six K's. Now this is some serious baseball.
Top 2:
  • Maggs is greeted by some boo's (due to the Chavez connection), and then some more heat from Snell that he swings through. And then looks at it. Fourth K on the day.
  • Snell loses some command and walks Jose Lopez (who walked 27 times total in 2008 - that was a pretty good month for Barry Bonds at the end of his career).
  • Ramon Hernandez flies out (at least he put it in play) and Marco Scutaro singles to right to put runners on the corners.
  • Slow roller back to the mound bare-handed by Snell. He throws Blanco out at first to end the inning.
Bottom 2:
  • Rios apparently had a disappointing season in 2008, despite his 5.4 WAR (5.0 in '07). Because his HR went down and his doubles went up. And Sutcliffe didn't even start that one. Nice commentating, guys. Alex lines a fastball through the left side for a single, and may be running.
  • Rios is indeed off, on a hit-and-run (maybe - Sutcliffe doing his job well saying that it was likely a straight steal since Rios never looked back to the plate. Good job, Rick). Ivan Rodriguez hits a grounder towards second that gets kicked by Rios as he slides, though the ump didn't see it. The Puerto Rican manager argues, and the umps confer before coming to the conclusion that Rios is indeed out (the home-plate ump saw the play clearly).
  • Felipe Lopez flies out on the first pitch, and the youngest of the Catching Molinas (Yadier) walks.
  • Savvy veteran Alex Cora up. Wicked breaking-ball just low for ball one. Cora shrewdly flies out to left to leave two on. Snell and Feliz really are matching each other pitch for pitch.
Top 3:
  • It looks like the strike-zone has gotten a little bit smaller in the last couple frames.
  • After Mora flies out, Abreu works a walk.
  • Miguel Cabrera strikes out swinging on an 0-2 slider in the dirt, but Abreu steals second despite Molina making a pretty good throw from his knees.
  • Carlos Guillen lines a single passed a diving shortstop to give Ven. a 1-0 lead.
  • Ordonez flies out on the first pitch, but giving Felix even a small lead is always big.
Bottom 3:
  • Man, does Felix have some wicked stuff. I notice that I've used that adjective a couple of times, but I think it's quite apt. I can't wait till the O's have a guy that can approach this level of awesomeness on the mound.
  • A flyout and strike-out (swinging at a high tailing slider) brings Beltran to the plate. Carlos doubles down the third-base line passed a largely immobile Mora (I hope he's OK).
  • Delgado walks while Beltran steals third (with no throw). I don't think I've ever seen a guy run on a 3-2 count when he wasn't forced, and steal it on a walk.
  • And Felix may now be injured. He'll pitch to Rios, but his first pitch bounces in the left-handed batter's box.
  • After falling behind 2-0, Hernandez pounds the zone with a couple of strikes and then gets Rios to flyout to Abreu in right. Two more stranded.
Top 4:
  • Ramon Hernandez with a one-out single, and the P.R. team has the bullpen working.
  • Snell keeps the score at 1-0 by getting a groundout and a pop-up.
Bottom 4:
  • One pitch-one out, as Felix gets Pudge to ground to second.
  • Felipe Lopez goes down looking at a fastball tailing back over the inside corner.
  • Ramon actually playing defense, jumping out in front of the plate to throw Molina out on a short grounder.
Top 5:
  • Snell's gone, with some drop-down righty I've never heard of out there.
  • Mora grounds up the middle, but Cora runs it down and easily throws Melvin out at first.
  • Abreu flies out to deep left, and Miguel Cabrera strikes out on three pitches.
  • Alvarado (the pitcher) looks like he's tough on righties because of his motion, but not very good otherwise.
Bottom 5:
  • Felix and his mostly untucked shirt are still on the mound.
  • Cora goes down looking on a 3-2 slider. That pitch is really, really effective for Hernandez.
  • Case in point; Feliciano swings over the top of it for Felix's seventh K.
  • Vazquez gets a fastball in the middle of the plate that he rockets to deep right. Abreu and his -23 run defense (from '08) can't get to it and Ramon ends up on third with a triple.
  • Now the Venezualan pen is warming.
  • Ramon Hernandez blocks a ball in the dirt and the announcer talk about the lack of passed balls in the WBC. Oh, the irony.
  • Felix has actually reached the max pitch-count, so Beltran (who walks) has to be his last hitter. He pitched really well, and has put his team in position to win and move on to round three.
  • Lefty Carlos Vazquez comes in and strikes out Delgado swinging to leave two stranded (again).
Top 6:
  • 1-2-3 goes Venezuela in the sixth.
Bottom 6:
  • Enrique Gonzalez in to face Rios. A flyout to Abreu, and then another by Pudge.
  • Felipe Lopez grounds back to the mound. Quick inning for Gonzalez.
Top 7:
  • Alvarado is still out there for Puerto Rico.
  • Perhaps one batter too long. Ramon Hernandez crushes the ball to left, and it looks like it's a home run. (It was on a mostly straight 89 mph fastball right down the middle.) The ball bounces back from over the wall and the umps think it's in play. Ramon ends up at third, but the umps get together again. They have instant replay available, and the finally decide to use it. This is a first for me, seeing the technology in action. It seems that it's just a lot of waiting around until the umpire that's reviewing the play comes back onto the field. The ball clearly went over the scoreboard, so I don't know what's taking so long. Maybe the umps decided to take the opportunity to use the restroom or something. Finally they're back out, and rule it a home run. 2-0 Venezuela. Ramon takes a Molina-like six minutes to round the bases.
  • Marco Scutaro tries to bunt his way on, but slides into first and is pretty easily out. How very Melvin Mora of him.
  • JC Romero in to set up the lefty-lefty match-up with Blanco. Gregor bunts and is also easily thrown out at first despite not sliding.
  • Mora flies out to deep center to end the inning. I was kind of hoping he'd drop one down too, just to shows these guys how it's done.
Bottom 7:
  • Molina draws a lead-off walk, but is erased on the base-paths when Cora grounds to first. Alex beats the relay from second though, so the tying run is still coming to the plate.
  • Feliciano also rounds to first, but Cabrera just takes the force at the bag this time instead of making a throw.
  • Gonzalez gets Ramon Vazquez swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the third out. That was pretty big, with Beltran and the middle of the order coming up.
Top 8:
  • Abreu grounds weakly to first, but Romero didn't get to the bag in time to receive Delgado's throw and Bobby beat it out.
  • Saul Rivera relieves Romero, and gets Miguel Cabrera to flyout to a gliding Carlos Beltran in center. Beltran takes a lot of heat from some NY fans, but the guy is a great player.
  • Slow grounder to short, but Cora is able to charge it and throw Guillen out at first.
  • Ordonez grounds back to the mound to end the inning.
Bottom 8:
  • Ramon Ramirez is the latest Venezuelan reliver, and he starts his night by walking Beltran (who may try to steal another base).
  • Delgado lines out to second, with Beltran barely getting back to first.
  • Rios gets his second single of the day. Puerto Rico may not get a better chance to come back in this game, with Pudge coming to the plate and K-Rod warming up in the pen.
  • Rodriguez flies out, and the Ven. team is stalling a bit to give Frankie some more time to get ready.
  • With a 2-1 count on Felipe Lopez, Luis Sojo is going to bring in K-Rod. That's interesting - especially since Rodriguez doesn't have the best control on the mound and will start behind in the count.
  • An off-speed pitch gets Lopez, and the P.R. team has left two runners stranded yet again.
Top 9:
  • Ramon Hernandez with a one-out single. I've said a lot of bad things about Ramon, but he's really a pretty good player, and I was a fan of his going back to the Oakland days.
  • A pinch-runner steals second (barely - Molina made it really close despite back-handed the pitch in the dirt before throwing), and Scutaro works a walk.
  • That was former Oriole Fernando Cabrera on the mound for the start of that inning.
  • Pedro Feliciano relieves him and gets Alex Cora to ground into the inning ending double play.
Bottom 9:
  • Molina pops out - one down. The Venezuela fans are getting loud.
  • Cora watches a 94 mph fastball go by on the outside corner - two down.
  • Groundball to second; throw to first to end the game.
  • Venezuela shuts out Puerto Rico 2-0, and is moving on to the third round. P.R. faces the US tomorrow with the winner advancing and the loser going home.
  • Players of the game are Ramon Hernandez with his 3-4 day (including that HR) and Felix Hernandez with 7 K's in 4.2 innings.
Read more ...

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Happy Pi Day!

Maybe one of these years Pie will hit for a .314 average, and then everyone can get into the Pi act. Read more ...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Who Plays Where And How Much?

Going back to some discussion from a couple of days ago at the BORT regarding the value of bench players, I decided to look at an “optimal” (doesn’t take L/R splits into effect, among other things) allocation of talent on the team. I didn’t include every position, since it’s clear what going on at catcher (more Wieters = good, but we want him to stick around another year so he’s starting in the minors), shortstop (Izturis is the only real one that’s set to be on the team), and right field (occupied for the next six years, at least).

So that leaves Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Ryan Freel, Felix Pie, Luke Scott, and Adam Jones at fight it out for PA at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, CF, and DH.

I included the following constraints:
725 PA for second-basemen, knowing that Roberts is the #1 player there and he bats at the top of the line-up
700 PA for the other positions
Max of 625 PA for Roberts and Huff
Max of 575 PA for Jones and Scott
Max of 550 PA for Mora and Pie
Max of 500 PA for Wigginton
Max of 400 PA for Freel

I input their offensive projections (no base-running included) and defensive projections at each of the available positions, and maximized total WAR.

The results:

Huff: 225 PA at 1B, 400 PA at DH, 1.6 WAR
Wigginton: 475 PA at 1B, 25 PA at 3B, 1.0 WAR
Roberts: 625 PA at 2B (duh), 3.6 WAR
Mora: 550 PA at 3B (duh), 1.7 WAR
Freel: 100 PA at 2B, 125 PA at 3B, 0.6 WAR
Pie: 425 PA in LF, 125 PA in CF, 1.7 WAR
Scott: 275 PA in LF, 300 PA at DH, 2.0 WAR
Jones: 575 PA in CF, 2.7 WAR

Total: 15 WAR

Freel is the only one that didn’t max out his PA. I guess this means that he should only play as a last resort (given these players) which makes sense. The only way Wiggy should DH is if Huff and/or Scott are actually better fielders at first than him (which is probably doubtful). Otherwise Ty takes first when lefties are on the mound with one of Huff, Scott, or Pie sitting (depending on a number of factors including the opposing pitcher (Randy Johnson => keep Pie away from the batter’s box), the O’s pitcher (flyball guy => get Pie out to left), injuries, and the like).

Are there occasions (such as the lefty opposing pitcher scenario) in which Freel should play left? Well, in his career Ryan has hit a little better against lefties than righties (.737 OPS vs. .727, with what appears to be a slightly higher wOBA). Felix Pie – in very limited at bats – has been destroyed by lefties (.106/.192/.106). Luke Scott, while not great, has held his own (.756 OPS vs. lefties, .874 vs. righties). That would indicate to me that the optimal line-ups would have Pie in LF, Scott at DH, and Huff at 1B (unless Luke can play a credible first, in which case they switch) against righties and Scott in LF, Huff at DH, and Wigginton at 1B against lefties.

In that respect, Wigginton isn’t taking at bats from Scott and Huff but from Pie. This makes the “platoon” even more effective, since the jump from Pie vs. lefties to Ty vs. lefties is huge. Wigginton actually has almost the exact reverse split of Scott, in that he’s put up a .758 OPS vs. righties and a .878 OPS vs. lefties (spooky). Having four guys with a continuum of different abilities is handy for filling the three spots. You have defense (Pie>Scott>>Wigginton>Huff), offense vs. lefties (Wigginton>>Scott=Huff>>Pie), and offense vs. righties (Scott=Huff>>Wigginton>Pie). If the team can leverage them to their maximum effectiveness (“putting them in a position to succeed”, I think managers call it) then they might be able to squeeze an extra win out of their overall talent levels.

Oh, and to answer the above question - no, Ryan Freel really shouldn’t play the outfield. I still have a feeling that he’s going to, though. Read more ...

Having Wieters Solves A Lot Of Problems

The HardballTimes is ranking the 30 minor league systems based on expected value produced by their top prospects. They’re coming up with that value by looking at how much value past prospects contributed to their teams depending on how they were ranked individually and splitting out pitchers from position players.

The Orioles come in at #7, with a net present value of $112.03 M:
“Top 100 Prospects: Matt Wieters (1), Brian Matusz (23), Chris Tillman (24), Jake Arrieta (62)
Someone could make a legitimate case that the Orioles have the top farm system in baseball simply because of Matt Wieters. Baltimore's system may be the most top heavy farm system in the game. The fact that three of the top four are pitchers adds to the risk.”
That three of the top four are pitchers is likely by design, as Andy MacPhail has repeatedly said that he wants to develop pitchers and supplement them with position players via free agency. Someone could make the case that Wieters gives the O’s the top farm system baseball (I won’t), but I do think it’s reasonable to bump them up at least a notch or two (with SFG at $122.95 M, FLA at $131.26 M, and OAK at $133.32 M being the teams ahead of them).

BeyondTheBoxScore is doing something similar, but is including prospects out of the top 100 overall. They haven’t gotten to the AL East yet (they’re going division by division), but when they do I imagine the O’s will rank similarly high (and I’ll comment on it). Victor Wang (who did the HardballTimes piece, is also going to expand it out past the top 100 later too – I imagine the two will match up pretty well). Read more ...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Talk About Clogging The Basepaths

And their fans rejoice!

I have no idea how they did it, but the Netherlands has defeated the Dominican Republic for a second time, and will advance to the second round of the WBC. The game was scoreless going into the 11th inning, when the DR put up a run in the top half to take a 1-0 lead. It was up to a bunch of guys I’ve never heard of (and some I’ve heard of, but who suck) in the bottom of the 11th against Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.

A lead-off double and a groundout puts a runner on third with one out for Sir Kingsale, who singled to right-center to tie the game 1-1. An errant pick-off throw allows him to get to third – the winning run just 90 feet away with only one out. Sharlon Shoop (seriously? Sharlon Shoop?) goes down swinging to bring semi-legit major leaguer Randall Simon to the plate. Marmol walks him intentionally (Randall Simon, feared hitter) to bring up Yurendell de Caster. 3-2 count. Man, isn’t that exciting? 3-2, runners on the corners, two outs, tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 11th against a team that should have crushed you (twice), and there are about 30 people not on your team or related to you that have any idea who you are. Here’s the pitch… de Caster swings, and hits a hard grounder to first-base… Willy Aybar, in defensively for David Ortiz (more on that in a moment), has the ball go off his glove… Kingsale coming home… everybody’s safe!... the Netherlands wins, 2-1!

A team headlined by Sidney Ponson beat one lead by David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Miguel Tejada, Pedro Martinez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Johnny Cueto, Edison Volquez, and several other guys who are all better than Sidney Ponson.

Apparently, Bert Blyleven was the pitching coach for team Netherlands, who gave up a total of 6 runs in their three games. With the "Punching Aruban" as the ace of their staff. Can Blyleven get into the Hall of Fame now?

Back to why Aybar was even playing first-base in the 11th (from Shysterball):
“Manager Felipe Alou started David Ortiz at first base -- a position he hasn't played in the Majors since 2007, and hasn't played well since God knows when -- because he wanted extra offense. The result: Ortiz goes 1-4 and the D.R. goes scoreless through 10 innings. Hey, that happens. Since it's a taut 0-0 game, however, Alou pulls Ortiz for Willie Aybar. I mean really, let no man say that David Ortiz's glove cost the team a chance to advance, right?”
That is amazingly tragic – not because there are any huge consequences of the loss (it is only a game, afterall) – but because of how seriously the Dominican team was taking this game and the entire country’s vast amount of pride in the team. When the US was eliminated in 2006 due to their loss the Mexico that was pretty embarrassing, but at least that team had Jorge Cantu and Adrian Gonzalez in their line-up and Oliver Perez, Esteban Loaiza, and Rodrigo Lopez in their rotation. This Dominican team is almost as stacked as that US team was, so this is a much bigger upset. And it happened twice!

[Edit: Unfortunately, the Netherlands team is losing to Puerto Rico. I didn't really expcet them to win the whole thing, but I was kind of hoping that wacky bunch could advance another round. Lucky this game doesn't matter.] Read more ...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Beast & The Least Of The East

Continuing their off-season series, the BaseballAnalysts went through their AL East Preview by position, using a combination of projections systems.

Navarro, D. - .267/.334/.389
Varitek, J. - .236/.328/.390
Posada, J. - .273/.366/.448
Barajas, R. - .243/.303/.392
Wieters, M. - .298/.382/.499

Matt Wieters has easily the best projection, being tops in BA (by 25 points over second place Jorge Posada), OBP (16 over Posada again), and SLG (51 over Posada, again). Even my .289/.359/.482 line would make him better with the bat than the other catchers (though Posada’s .366 OBP would be tops in that category).

Pete: “I wonder how much we'll see of Matt Wieters. It doesn't make much sense for Baltimore to start his clock yet.”

Sully: “Wieters in the Minors would be an absolute mockery. After he wins the MVP this season, I fully expect him to fix Healthcare and restore economic prosperity in America.”

Idea... Matt Wieters Facts. Thanks, Sully.

Gregg Zaun’s .241/.340/.374 line actually compares pretty favorably to the other non-Posada catchers.

Pena, C. - .254/.370/.500
Youkilis, K. - .283/.377/.474
Teixeira, M. - .290/.383/.525
Overbay, L. - .265/.343/.419
Huff, A. - .279/.340/.471

At least Huff is a better hitter than Overbay.

Iwamura, A. - .270/.346/.389
Pedroia, D. - .307/.368/.456
Cano, R. - .292/.331/.450
Hill, A. - .277/.334/.408
Roberts, B. - .282/.359/.424

I’d like to see how Roberts would rank in this group with the bat if Pedroia didn’t play half is games at Fenway.

Longoria, E. - .273/.347/.499
Lowell, M. - .275/.336/.444
Rodriguez, A. - .291/.387/.548
Rolen, S. - .263/.342/.434
Mora, M. - .271/.337/.431

Oh, Melvin. With his injury, does A-Rod drop behind Longoria this year?

Marc:” I'm betting 2009 is the year Mora plays like he's 37 years old.”

I had the thought yesterday that maybe Melvin has the reverse problem of a lot of Latin American players (like Tejada) and that he’s really a couple of years younger than we think. That would match up better with his career arc (peak at 29-30 instead of 32-33), and Mora is enough of a space-cadet on the field (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) that I wouldn’t be completely surprised if it turned out to be the case. I’m not saying it’s true, I’m just sayin’ there’s a chance. And it would be really funny.

Bartlett, J. - .274/.332/.366
Lowrie, J. - .265/.346/.410
Jeter, D. - .299/.367/.419
McDonald, J. - .231/.278/.312
Izturis, C. - .259/.310/.325

Izturis obviously can’t hit very well, but he doesn’t look that horrible in this group. Imagine if he was in the NL East with Hanley, Rollins, Reyes, Escobar, and Guzman.

Marc: “Cesar Izturis should impress defensively in Baltimore but his offense will be abysmal.”

Sully: “With defense factored, will Lowrie be better than Jeter this season?”

Now that is a very interesting question.

Crawford, C. - .291/.334/.433
Bay, J. - .272/.364/.487
Damon, J. - .279/.352/.423
Lind, A. - .281/.330/.458
Pie, F. - .263/.317/.410

Everyone knows Pie is a project going into the season.

Marc: “Generally speaking, I am really looking forward to watching the young outfield in Baltimore play, with Felix Pie, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis included. Pie was a steal from Chicago and, if motivated, could be just as good as the other two players.”

Upton, B. - .279/.376/.432
Ellsbury, J. - .293/.350/.415
Gardner, B. - .260/.342/.359
Wells, V. - .274/.329/.457
Jones, A. - .274/.324/.420

The Bossman is #1 (and should be even better than that line), but Jones may find himself in the second spot with even a mild break-out.

Joyce, M. - .247/.324/.448
Drew, J. - .270/.381/.460
Nady, X. - .278/.332/.462
Rios, A. - .285/.338/.459
Markakis, N. - .297/.378/.477

Replace that Markakis line with my .301/.401/.493 and it’s not even close. I mean, it’s close as it is but he’s still at the top. With A-Rod hurt, Nick might actually be the third best hitter in the AL East next year (after Teixeira and Ortiz).

Burrell, P. - .245/.368/.464
Ortiz, D. - .281/.387/.543
Matsui, H. - .279/.358/.442
Snider, T. - .262/.330/.462
Scott, L. - .261/.343/.477

Luke holds up pretty well as the DH, considering he’s the only one of these guys that isn’t a minus (sometimes severely) on defense. He would have been second only to Bay in left.

Sully: “Give me the under on Papi and the over on Luke Scott.”

If that under for Ortiz is correct and/or he gets hurt, and Tex has a slow first season in the Bronx, then I can easily see a certain Oriole being the best hitter in the division.

SP: Yeah, we know the O’s rotation sucks. They have an M. Waters putting up a 5.12 ERA. I don’t know who that is; I assume they meant Chris Waters (or maybe Matt Wieters will don an alter-ego and appear on the mound (he did close in college), sometimes pitching to himself – that sounds like on of those “Chuck Norris” type facts [Edit: addressed above]).

Sully: “Sort of like San Francisco's offense heading into last season, I am nothing short of astounded at how bad Baltimore's pitching looks. Of course San Fran wasn't the historically bad lineup I thought they would be so maybe there is hope for that O's staff.”

RP: They only went through the top three relievers for each team, but Sherrill, Ray, and Johnson came out as the worst group.

Bench: They don’t list players, but just discuss them. Every team is mentioned except the Orioles, who’ll have a pretty good one later in the year (Zaun, Wigginton, Freel, Util. player). Stupid (North & South) East Coast (Plus Canada) bias.

Wieters got no votes for Rookie of the Year – probably because they don’t think he’ll spend enough time in the Bigs.

Sully: “AL MVP sleeper: Nick Markakis.”

If he wins the AL MVP it’ll be because the O’s at least made a run at the playoffs. And if the O’s are going to make a run at the playoffs, Nick is going to have to have a monster season.


Pete: “I think the Blue Jays could lose 90 games. They have a chance to be dreadful.”
Sully: “I am with Pete. Toronto is going to be horrendous.”

Both guys predicted the O’s to finish fourth. One year in last place and getting to fourth seems like a joyous event. I’ll gladly take it, and it may be becoming more likely than not that that’s how it shakes out (though some Toronto fans let them have it in the comments section). Read more ...

Down Goes Chavez.... Again

In past years, you knew baseball season was about to start when the news that Mark Prior was injured and wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day came out. With Prior’s career pretty much done, Eric Chavez has inherited that mantle. He has pain in his shoulder and may have to go on the DL. I used to really like Chavez, but it’s hard to be a fan of a player that’s never on the field. Chavvy and Nomar could form a great third-base platoon, where the one who’s actually healthy will get to play regardless of pitchers handedness. If by some miracle the A’s can get a full season of average-ish third-base out of those two, then that will really help their chances to catch the Angels. Read more ...

Just Don't Bat Izturis Fourth

David Pinto over at BaseballMusings has a pre-season project going where he takes the projected starting line-up for each team and inputs the players’ Marcel predicted stats (OBP & SLG) into his line-up analysis tool, which gives the number of runs per game the line-up should score, as well as the best and worst configurations using those players.

He has the O’s probable line-up as

Brian Roberts
Melvin Mora
Nick Markakis
Aubrey Huff
Adam Jones
Luke Scott
Gregg Zaun
Cesar Izturis
Felix Pie

scoring 4.93 runs per game, which is equivalent to 799 runs for the season.

Putting in my projections and a line-up of

Brian Roberts
Nick Markakis
Melvin Mora
Aubrey Huff
Luke Scott
Adam Jones
Gregg Zaun
Felix Pie
Cesar Izturis

results in 5.07 runs per game. Dropping Zaun from 7th to 9th would up it to 5.10 runs per game (since his solid OBP skills would be well utilized ahead of the top of the order). That’s 821 and 826 runs, respectively.

The line-up I’ve heard Dave Trembley kicking around

Brian Roberts
Adam Jones
Nick Markakis
Aubrey Huff
Melvin Mora
Luke Scott
Gregg Zaun
Felix Pie
Cesar Izturis

would be 5.02 runs per game, or 813 runs on the season.

Now lets throw Matt Wieters in there instead of Zaun:

Brian Roberts
Nick Markakis
Melvin Mora
Aubrey Huff
Luke Scott
Adam Jones
Matt Wieters
Felix Pie
Cesar Izturis

That’s an increase to 5.223 runs per game (846 for the season) and would be even higher if Wieters was hitting higher in the line-up.

Back to Pinto:
“The Orioles may hold the record for actual lineup closest to the ideal lineup in terms of run production. If you look at the Lineup Analysis link above, the bottom lineup in the top 20 matches the Orioles lineup in five spots. One change that makes sense is moving Luke Scott ahead of Adam Jones. Jones, however, is still young, so I can believe he might exceed this projection, and that would certainly give the Orioles a boost.
Like last season, this is a good offensive team. The bottom of the lineup isn't great, but they do have enough near the top put some runs on the board. They need to find pitching in order to compete.”
They’re working on it David, they’re working on it. Read more ...

Monday, March 9, 2009


San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg has 45 strike-outs in 20.3 innings this year. That is just amazingly absurd. If the Nationals don't pick him #1 overall in the draft (even with his potentially questionable mechanics) then they deserve to be made into a minor-league team or something.

That's 20 K/9. 20! Crazy.

[Edit: Apparently, Strasburg has hit 102 on the radar gun... repeatedly.] Read more ...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

US Trounces Venezuela

"This line-up should just bludgeon the opposition, and it's not terribly likely that Galarraga will be able to stop them." - Me, from the first inning of the US-Venezuela game.

US - 15, Ven. - 6.

Galarraga pitched pretty well, but the US was able to put an 8-spot up against the Venezuelan pen in the 6th inning and kept adding on. That's why you don't sac bunt in the first inning.

Apparently, Ven. manager Luis Sojo used Felix Hernandez (easily their best pitcher) yesterday in relief against Italy (Ven. won 7-0). That was an incredibly stupid move, as Felix should have been saved to face the much better US line-up. That would have given Venezuela a chance.

Other random notes:

A's reliever and groundball machine Brad Ziegler set the ML record for most scoreless innings to start a career last year, so naturally he gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in the WBC.

Baseball hater Adam Dunn hit a homer for the second game in a row (and it was an absolute bomb). Who would want that jerk on their team?

And I feel I should mention Melvin Mora and the inexplicable things he does on the baseball field. First he unnecessarily bare-hands a bouncer to third, even though he threw the guy out by about 20 feet anyway. Then he hits a grounder to third that Chipper Jones has to dive for, and dives into first base. He was out, but would have beaten the throw if he had just run through the bag. I love Melvin, but he can do some infuriating stuff (despite meaning well). Read more ...

Fundementals, Guys

Jimmy Rollins with a lead-off double for Team USA against Armando Galarraga (he of the 5.29 tRA last year). Dustin Pedrioa tried to bunt (why!?!) and missed the ball, and Rollins was picked off at second by Venezualan catcher "Razor" Ramon Hernandez. You've got a guy who won the AL MVP last year batting, with Chipper Jones, Kevin Youlikis, and David Wright following him. There is absolutely no reason to play small-ball - especially in the first inning. This line-up should just bludgeon the opposition, and it's not terribly likely that Galarraga will be able to stop them. Read more ...

PECOTA Has O's In Fourth

I've never done a spit-take before in real life - I didn't think things like that actually happened. Then I saw this from BaseballProspectus:

American League, ranked by projected 2009 record

15 Boston Red Sox 99 63 852 695 .270 .348 .434
13 New York Yankees 95 67 794 671 .263 .337 .415
6 Tampa Bay Rays 91 71 805 718 .254 .335 .416
9 Baltimore Orioles 77 85 827 885 .269 .336 .434
5 Toronto Blue Jays 75 87 704 761 .253 .319 .403

Fourth place. I don't even know what to say about that. Awesome? Unlikely? I do have the O's with about the same level of offense for 2009 (though with more OBP and less SLG), but with better pitching. I've been of the opinion that the 80 win projection from the team WAR is high due to natural home-team optimism, and so I've been bumping it down to 75-77 when people ask me about them. If the O's can find some pitching amongst the host of candidates they have auditioning, then a .500 season is definitely within reach. Crazy. Read more ...

The New Knights Of The Round (Baseball)

The BORT is here! Long live the BORT!
"Welcome to the Baltimore Orioles Round Table.

This is a forum consisting of several individuals who follow the Orioles. The present incarnation of the forum includes individuals from a wide-ranging spectrum in order to provide differing perspectives and seed potentially interesting conversation and analysis. Our goals are to challenge each other with aspects of transient issues pertaining to the club as well as providing a venue to share our own work with each other. With this forum, we hope to become better at doing what we do, which is to provide local and, sometimes, unique assessment.

The rules here are rather basic. This is a closed forum. The members of this forum are the only ones able to post and comment. Feel free to email any of us with comments if you so choose. If we find them applicable and interesting . . . we'll post them for you with proper attribution. If you have a topic or a link you would like us to discuss, we encourage you to contact us. We will also be steering the rudder in our own way. Each week, one of us will take a turn at moderating the conversation. A topic is chosen and we will sometimes keep to it. Expect a few posts each day and maybe some lively interaction.

Without further delay, here are the founding members of BORT:
Heath Bintliff - Brew Afficionado and Southern Fried Oriole Fan who operates Dempsey's Army;
Paul Bugala - Founder of the Bowie Baysox Blog;
Phil Finch, Novelist, Journalist, former BBWA member, and an intense Orioles fan since 1981;
Nick James - Raw, but toolsy, scouting at Camden Depot and daylights in law;
Lucky Jim - BORT's Poet Laureate and our second lawyer;
Daniel Moroz - Provides Frost King Baseball with statistical assessment and projection;
Jon Shepherd - Environmental Toxicologist and Jack-if-All-Trades over at Camden Depot; and
Jay Trucker - BORT's self-proclaimed witticist and a columnist for the Baltimore Examiner.

Thanks again to all the contributors and lets make this a fun year.

Jon Shepherd
Camden Depot
BORT Founding Member"
My original introductory comment was more like "Applying my mad actuarial skillz to the national pastime", but I suppose that wasn't really what we were going for. We should have some interesting stuff going on over at the BORT, and I think any Orioles fan will be able to get something good out if it. The Camden Depot guys are the ones that put it together - they assembled a crack team of baseball people, and then decided to let me in too (which I appreciate). I encourage you all to check it out and spread the word. Read more ...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

WBC, Bruce Chen's From Panama

Just some random World Baseball Classic notes from a lazy Saturday:
  • I caught the end of the Netherlands-Dominican Republic game, with the later winning 3-2 in a big upset. Apparently they scored all three runs on two first-inning infield hits and only had one other hit (a bunt single) the rest of the game. In the bottom of the ninth, the DR had Willy Tavares on as the tying run, but he got thrown out trying to steal. Yeah; small-ball wins baseball games.
  • Sidney Ponson pitched for the Netherlands. Hahahaha.
  • The US beat Canada 6-5 in a really exciting game. Both teams have a lot of talent, but the US roster is really stacked.
  • Mariners pitching prospect Phillippe Aumont has some wicked stuff showing an explosive mid-90s fastball and a big sharp breaking-ball. He pulled the Houdini, getting out of a bases-loaded no-out jam by breaking David Wright's bat on a soft looper to short and striking out Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson.
  • Adam Dunn - who hates baseball - was happy to play for team USA and his big two-run homer ended up being the difference in the game. The Big Donkey really is a good nickname for him - Ryan Braun (37 HR last year) followed him in the line-up and looked like a lead-off guy by comparison.
  • Chipper Jones - even at age 36 - is still one of the best hitters in baseball. I wonder how many more years he can put up .900-1.000 OPSs.
  • Joey Votto is a pretty good young hitter, but the Reds offense might still not be enough to support what may be one of the better pitching staffs in baseball this year.
  • Javier Vavquez - who holds the record for all-time strike-outs by a Puerto Rican pitcher - has a really good curveball. Maybe this will be the year where his (very good) peripherals finally match up to his ERA (usually merely OK).
  • Another former Orioles, Bruce Chen, is Vazquez's mound opponent for Panama. Mwahahaha. Ahaha. Hahaha. Heh.
  • Carlos Delgado takes Chen deep to right in the second, and the Puerto Rican fans celebrate like they just won the whole tournament. Nice to have baseball back on.
  • Pudge Rodriguez is still without a job and might have to retire unless he wants to take a league-minimum deal. He's making his case, with a solo home run.
  • They're going to have to eventually figure out a way to work the WBC such that the best players get to play - maybe by extending the All-Star break and playing it then. I still like the idea of it though.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

O's-Nats, Danny Being Danny

Orioles and Nationals facing off in a Spring Training game.

It's weird seeing Daniel Cabrera in another uniform. He is fifth all-time amongst O's pitchers with a K/9 of 6.96. I'm anxious to see David Pauley pitch, so I'm glad they're broadcasting the game.

The Nats also have former O's Alex Cintron and Corey Patterson in their line-up.

Top 1:
  • Pauley has good movement on his fastball, but Christian Guzman serves one to left for a lead-off single.
  • After getting ahead 1-2, he gets Cintron swinging way out in front of a change-up. He does indeed have good arm-action on it.
  • It's nice to here Buck Martinez and Jim Hunter.
  • Kory Casto flies out to Felix Pie and his high socks in left.
  • Brad Eldred breaks his bat on a bloop single. It wasn't the best pitch, so a single isn't the worst thing that could have happened - especially gi
  • Oh Corey, how I've missed you. First-pitch fastball down out of the zone - and a mighty swing and a miss. Change-up outside - and a mighty swing and a miss. Tailing fastball on the inside corner for a called strike-three.
  • I like the look of this Pauley kid. He may never be better than a #4 starter, but that was surely worth Randor Bierd (who I also miss terribly).
Bottom 1:
  • The O's have a legit line-up out there today.
  • I missed Daniel too. First pitch to Brian Roberts is a high fastball for ball one. And hard grounder off Eldred's glove at first results in a lead-off single.
  • Adam Jones batting in the two-hole. I think swapping Jones and Markakis would actually be the more efficient thing to do. Jones takes a ball and a strike before waving at a breaking-ball way outside. On a 2-2 fastball, Adam lines a fastball to center putting runners on the corners for Nick.
  • Markakis doesn't appear to be crouching quite as much as he was last year. A bouncer to second brings in Roberts and moves Jones over. 1-0 O's.
  • Cabrera starts Huff off with a really nice curveball for a called strike. Adam Jones steals third pretty easily, and Huff works Daniel for a walk. Runners on the corners again.
  • Huff steals second on the first pitch - a ball - to Ty Wigginton. Yikes. I really feel for Daniel; I hope he figures it out eventually. He walks Wiggy on five pitches to load the bases.
  • Fastball high to Scott for ball one. Fastball high to Scott for ball two. Daniel comes back to get him though, with Luke failing to check his swing on yet on high fastball on a 3-2 count.
  • Washington's 2007 first-round draft pick, Ross Detwiler, is already warming up.
  • Pie swings at the first pitch he sees (doesn't he know who's pitching?) and lines what looks like a bases-clearing double to left-center. The left-fielder robs him with an inning ending diving catch, though.
Top 2:
  • Jose Castillo grounds to short, but Ryan Freel overthrows Huff at first and Castillo moves to second on the error. Not what I wanted to see from Freely at shortstop - maybe it was Farney.
  • Roger Bernadina doubles right down the first-base line for a game-tying RBI double.
  • Pauley comes back to strike Justin Maxwell out looking with an 89 mph heater on the outside corner. If he can't make it as a starter, I think Pauley could be a pretty solid middle reliever - it's not the most glamorous job, but somebody has to do it.
  • A grounder by Wil Nieves to Freel's right is handled cleanly for out number two.
  • Guzman grounds out to second to end the inning. Keep the ball down; throw strikes; and mix your pitches. It works.
Bottom 2:
  • Robby Hammock pops out to start the second.
  • Freel hits a ball to deep left, but Bernadina robs another Oriole with a diving catch. If only the Nationals didn't have thirty outfielders looking for roster spots.
  • Roberts singles to left this time. Nice to have a quality lead-off man on the team.
  • Jones lines a single to right, but Roberts has to stop a second this time. Buck is talking about how batting second will make Adam more patient. I will say again that batting Nick (and his .400 OBP) in that spot make a lot more sense.
  • Daniel is so deliberate to the plate that Roberts and Jones are able to pull off a double steal. It looked like Adam - who had to lag behind a little when Roberts ran - might have been out, but it was a bang-bang play. Cabrera ends the threat by striking Nick out swinging on a 3-2 breaking-ball down and in.
Top 3:
  • An easy bouncer to first retires Cintron for the first out.
  • Castro grounds slightly more sharply back to Pauley - he takes a second to find the ball after knocking it down, and throws to Huff at first for the out.
  • Eldred showing that big power, hitting a long flyball to left. Pie settles under it at the wall though, and makes the catch. Easy three-up, three-down.
Bottom 3:
  • Cabrera's done, with Detwiler coming in to face Huff. Aubrey draws a walk for the second time.
  • Wigginton grounds the first pitch to third, erasing Huff with the double play.
  • Scott doubles down the right-field line, to sporadic yells of LUUUKE.
  • Pie hits a hard grounder to third that Casto dives for, but Felix is able to beat the throw to first.
  • Hammock singles through the left side to give the O's a 2-1 lead.
Top 4:
  • George "Flat Breezy" Sherrill in now. I was bothered the last couple innings because Pauley reminded me of someone but I couldn't figure out who. Then I got it and kind of laughed... Roy Halladay. Well, a much crappier version of 'Doc'. The motion and pitches (minus a few levels of "stuff" quality) are similar, maybe. I'll take a closer look the next time Pauley's on the mound.
  • Korey (Patterson) strikes out swinging on a high fastball.
  • Castillo doubles over Jones' in right-center to bring up Mr. Twice-Diving-RBI-Doubling BernadinA.
  • Bernie (no idea if that's actually his nickname) grounds out to second, with Castillo moving over to third with two outs.
  • Maxwell flied out to center and the inning is over.
Bottom 4:
  • Preston Larrison (who?) goes 3-2 on Roberts before walking him. Brian has been on base all three times today.
  • And so has Adam Jones, who gets hit with a pitch as he's pulling his bunt attempt back. Do they double steal again?
  • Yup. And they pull it off again. That's six steals on the day (two by Roberts and three by Jones) for the O's. Hey, as long as they're making it safely I'm all for going crazy on the base-paths. Just as long as they stop when the caught stealing's start piling up.
  • Markakis goes down looking an a 3-2 something-or-other that Nick thought was high.
  • Huff singles up the middle to drive in two, making it 4-1. And Buck is saying that without the double steal they wouldn't have scored. Maybe then Nick would have hit a three-run homer. It doesn't work that way Buck - the team really can score a whole bunch of runs without running a lot. I know - I've seen them do it.
  • Wigginton flies to right for the second out.
  • Matt Wieters is batting for Scott. It's my first look at the future Hall of Famer. He shows a good eye in working the count full, and a good swing to double into the left-field corner to drive in Huff and make it 5-1. I still don't think he'll put up a .939 OPS this year thoug (unlike PECOTA).
  • Lefty Mike Hinckley in to face Pie, who bounces to second. The throw by Castillo isn't even close to Eldred, and Wieters scores while Pie takes second. 6-1 O's.
  • Hammock pops out to short and the inning is over, but not before the Orioles put four on the board.
Top 5:
  • Jamie Walker is hoping to not give up 7 HR to lefties this year.
  • He gets Nieves swinging on a change-up for the first out.
  • Guzman lines the first pitch he sees right to Adam Jones in center.
  • Cintron singles, but Castillo grounds out to second to end the inning.
  • These are the kinds of O's games I could get used to.
Bottom 5:
  • Hinckley retires the O's in order, keeping Roberts and Jones off base for the first time today.
Top 6:
  • Dennis Sarfate in, along with a bunch of defensive replacements.
  • He blows the first batter away with a fastball - I've waited several months to be able to type that again.
  • The gun says 91-93, but it looks a whole lot faster than that and he's making the catcher's mit pop.
  • Jorge Padilla goes down looking on a fastball on the outside corner.
  • Castillo bounces one to third, where Wigginton has to handle a tough hop and can't make the throw in-time.
  • Bernadina flies to Pie to end the inning.
  • Until that last batter, Sarfate was really pounding the strike-zone with that fastball. If he can cut down on his walks, he could be a really useful guy out of the pen to go along with Sherrill, Johnson, and Ray. A light-out bullpen would go a long way towards making the rotation problems seem less severe.
Bottom 6:
  • Nick Markakis looking to not strike out against Steven Shell. And he sure doesn't, lining a single to center field. Jolbert Cabrera is in to run for him at first.
  • Craig Brazzell flies out to short center-field on the first pitch he sees in the game.
  • Whoever was hitting before Matt Wieters made an out.
  • Matt Wieters also made an out. I honestly didn't see that one coming.
Top 7:
  • Also getting my first look at Chris Tillman now. And Nolan Reimold in left.
  • Tillman is tall and lanky, so he may pick up some more velocity as he fills out. The ball does seem to explode out of his hand though.
  • Maxwell gets a flyball into the wind and makes it to third on a triple off the wall in right.
  • Nick Markakis is being interviewed on the sidelines. It's funny to here him refer to Adam Jones and Felix Pie as young kids.
  • A groundball to third brings in the Nationals' second run of the day.
  • One out later, Tillman issues the first O's walk of the day. That's the main thing standing between Chris and the majors, but at 20 years of age he still has quite a bit of time to work on that.
  • He ends the inning with a strike-out on a high fastball.
Bottom 7:
  • Justin Turner (from the Ramon Hernandez trade) hits a two-out single to left, but he's left stranded. 6-2 Birds.
Top 8:
  • A single, a double, and a strike-out for Tillman in his second inning of work.
Bottom 8:
  • O's go down 1-2-3.
Top 9:
  • Fredy Deza in for the ninth. Throws hard(ish) but falls of the mound and his control isn't good
  • That doesn't stop him from K'ing the first batter with that heater.
  • A line-out and aa groundout ends the game
The pitchers looked good (minus some minor control issues from Tillman). It's really nice to have baseball back.
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All-Time Best Orioles (Since 1955)

Inspired by a post on BeyondTheBoxScore (which was inspired by a post on LoneStarBall) - and with the assistance of the historical Wins Above Replacement developed by Sean Smith (of CHONE fame) - I'm going to do my best to go through the best O's at each position (of the Retrosheet Era - 1955 and later). Yaye!

I'm going to list it as O's career WAR / best season WAR (as an Orioles) / peak WAR (top 5 seasons, non-sequential). (These aren't exclusively for games played at the given position - just years where it was their primary position.)

C: Chris Hoiles - 23.2/7.0/18.8. Hoiles could hit well for a baseball player, and especially for a catcher (+82 runs on with the bat). His defense wasn't as bad as his reputation (a modest +7 runs total for his 10 years), and he had a monster 1993 season (7 WAR, .310/.416/.585, 29 HR, 162 OPS+). I knew it would be Hoiles, and yet I'm still kind of surprised by that.

Runner-up: Rick Dempsey - 20.7/3.3/13.5. The guy couldn't really hit (-43 runs with the bat), but he was a very good defensive catcher (+59 runs) and was with the team for part of 12 seasons.

Hank Severeid caught a bunch of games with the team in the early 1900s and swing an OK stick for a catcher (.289/.342/.367, 92 OPS+).

1B: Eddie Murray - 54/7.2/30.6. Eddie went from consistently very good (4.5, 4.5, 4.5, 3.9 (missed time) - in his first 4 years at first, after one as the DH) to great (5.6, 7.2, 7.0, 6.3) before going down-hill and and being traded (4.2, 3.8, 2.5). The guy was almost absurdly consistent, posting an OPS+ of 156 four years in a row. He even had a quality glove early in his career (+9 and +10 runs, in his 7.2 and 7.0 WAR seasons of 1983 and 1984).

Runner-up: Boog Powell - 30.5/5.8/22.4. He was still an outfielder, but 1964 was a pretty good year - .290/.399/.606, 39 HR, 176 OPS+ for +45 runs with the bat and only -1 with the glove. At first, 1970 saw more total offense (46 runs; .297/.412/.549, 35 HR, 163 OPS+) but in much more playing-time (635 PA vs. 502 PA in '64).

Rafael Palmeiro (25.8/6.4/24.2) wasn't with the team long enough. George Sisler (.340/.379/.468, 124 OPS+) played too long ago to check out.

2B: Bobby Grich - 26.8/7.5/26.8. And that doesn't include his partial season at second in 1972 (5.6 WAR, but only 45 games at second with 81 at short). The guy was a well above-average hitter (+91 runs in just his four years at second) and and good defender (+50 runs). 1973 looks bad (.251/.373/.387, 116 OPS+) but the +29 runs with the glove made it the best season of his career.

Runner-up: Brian Roberts - 20.1/5.2/18.6. Given his new four-year contract extension, I think Brian is going to lock this spot down eventually.

Davey Johnson (17.3/4.4/14.8) was close. Funny thing; Johnson's big 43 HR season with the Braves was less valuable than his 18 HR season with the O's (4.2 WAR to 4.4) because his baserunning (-5 to 0) and defense (-10 to 2) both got worse. Roberto Alomar also comes pretty close (13.1 WAR) in just three seasons with the team.

Ski Melillo (.260/.306/.340, 63 OPS+) played the most games at the position as an Oriole, but that was back in the 20s and 30s.

3B: Brooks Robinson - 70.4/8.0/33.6. Brooks put up a lot of great seasons, with his best actually coming in a year where his famed defense (+294 run career) was merely "very good". That was in 1964 (8.0 WAR) when he put up 37 runs of production with the bat (.317/.368/.521, 28 HR) and only 17 with the glove. That 17 is actually only the 9th best season of his career. Spending one' entire career at the same position with the same team probably helps too.

Runner-up: Doug DeCinces - 20.4/6.5/18.8. DeCinces was only the starter for six years, but he never got more than 588 PA with the team. His best career season actually came the year after he left the Birds, when he got 642 PA with the Angels and put up 7.4 WAR. His 6.5 win season with the O's had 31 runs of offense (.286/.346/.526, 28 HR) and 11 runs of defense - which looks pretty similar to Brooks' best year.

Harlond Clift (.272/.390/.441, 116 OPS+ for all teams in his career) and Jimmy Austin (.246/.326/.314, 90 OPS+) may have cases based on longevity (1419 and 1187 games at third respectively), but they're too far back in the past. Melvin Mora (16.8 WAR in his third-base seasons) may have a claim on third place, as well.

SS: Cal Ripken Jr. - 86/10.8/42.2. The Iron Man has the reverse situation of DeCinces, in that he always had well over 600 PA. That 1991 season (10.8 WAR) saw call put up 48 runs with the bat (.323/.374/.566, 34 HR) and 23 with the glove as a short-stop. That is crazy valuable. How good was Cal? If he had had an average bat (0 runs instead of +181 career) he still would have had a higher total WAR than Brooks Robinson (72.9 vs. 70.4). Same thing if he had had an average glove (0 runs instead of +181 career, again - amazing talent on both sides of the ball). Now that is a Hall of Famer.

Runner-up: Mark Belanger - 32.2/5.3/20.8. And it was all glove; 235 runs on defense and -245 runs on offense. His best year was 1976 when he didn't completely suck with the bat (-2 runs, .270/.336/.326) and was his usual stellar self with the glove (+24 runs).

Bobby Wallace (.268/.332/.358, 105 OPS+ for all teams in his career) and Vern Stephens (.286/.355/.460, 119 OPS+) probably wouldn't catch Belanger, but the WARs aren't readily available.

OF: Brady Anderson - 33.4/7.1/24.3. That 50 HR, 7.1 WAR season sure helped his cause, though Brady was a pretty good hitter in general (+109 runs total with the O's). I had always assumed that he was a good outfielder too, but it looks like he was only around average (-1 runs total, with a high of +10 and a low of -20). The solid base-running (+21 runs) was handy as well.

OF: Frank Robinson - 33.1/8.3/30.5. +75 runs with bat in '66 (.316/.410/.637, 49 HR, 198 OPS+) may be the best season at the plate by an O's player ever. He was above-average with the glove before he joined the team, but regressed to a little below average (-14 runs total, in his 6 years).

OF: Paul Blair - 32.3/6.8/27.2. I find it interesting that despite being with the team for 12 seasons (and 8 games in 1964), almost all of Blair production occured in 5 years. The guy was an OK hitter until the end of his career (+26 runs in his first 10 seasons; -51 runs in his last two with the O's, and -32 after that) - especially in 1967 (+24 runs, .293/.353/.446, 135 OPS+) - but he made his name with his glove (+134 runs, with another +34 for his arm).

Runner-up: Ken Singleton - 29.8/5.8/17.2. He wasn't a good defender (-37 runs, with -26 for his arm) but could sure swing the bat; especially in 1977 (+57 runs, .328/.438/.507, 24 HR, 165 OPS+). He actually matched his 5.8 WAR that year in 1979 as well, though with less offense and less-bad defense.

The problem in the outfield is that only two players - Blair and Baby Doll Jacobson (seriously) have played at least 1000 games at on outfield position for the team. Brady did in total, but that was split between center and left. Nick Markakis is at 13 WAR already, so he may actually catch up (or even take the top spot) in just the 6 years he has left on his contract. I know I'm prone to hyperbole with regards to Markakis ($66 M is a steal!), but it's kind of neat that we may be seeing the best outfielder in the history of the team out there now.

So here's you're all-time (since 1955) O's line-up:

C: Chris Hoiles
1B: Eddie Murray
2B: Bobby Grich
3B: Brooks Robinson
SS: Cal Ripken Jr.
LF: Brady Anderson
CF: Paul Blair
RF: Frank Robinson

And the over-all rankings(ish):

#10: Ken Singleton (30.9/5.8/17.2, with his time at DH)
#9: Mark Belanger (32.2/5.3/20.8)
#8: Paul Blair (32.3/6.8/27.2)
#7: Brady Anderson (33.4/7.1/24.3)
#6: Bobby Grich (33.1/7.5/32.4 including his time at short)
#5: Frank Robinson (33.1/8.3/30.5)
#4: Boog Powell (38.1/6.1/25.8, with his time in the outfield)
#3: Eddie Murray (57.1/7.2/30.6, with his time at DH)
#2: Brooks Robinson (70.4/8.0/33.6)
#1: Cal Ripken Jr. (91.2/10.8/42.2, with his time at third)

These are the kinds of lists it's easier to make (for the players) by sticking with a team for a while. I think that #5-9 are grouped closely enough that the rankings are judgment calls. After that it's pretty easy to rank the top four.

Unfortunately, the pitching WAR is not as readily available. That means another method is going to need to be used. I'm going to go with the BaseballProspectus stat PRAR - pitcher-only runs above replacement. It's runs instead of wins, but I don't especially want to do the conversion. (O's career PRAR / best single-season PRAR / top five PRAR.)

SP1: Jim Palmer - 656/73/342. Palmer's 126 ERA+ is 6th all-time for the Birds; his 53 shutouts are easilly first; as are his games started (521), innings (3948), and K's (2212), and wins (268). He's also second in winning percentage (.638). Notice the quality of defense that Palmer pitched in front of.

SP2: Mike Mussina - 517/75/298. He's third in team history in ERA+ (129); second K's (1535) and K:BB ration (3.29); sixth in K/9 (6.87) and BB/9 (2.09); fifth in games started (288); seventh in innings (2009.7); third in wins (147) and first in winning percentage (.645). I'm now pretty comfortable saying that - including his Yankee years - Mussina was better than Palmer. Jim is still easilly the best O's pitcher, though.

SP3: Dave McNally - 262/74/212. He's second in shutouts for the O's with 33; second in games started (384), innings (2652.7), and wins (181); seventh in complete games (120); third in K's (1476); and fifth in winning percentage (.612).

SP4: Milt Pappas - 246/46/195. He's fifth in shutouts (26); ninth in games started (232); sixth in K's (944); and seventh in winning percentage (.598).

SP5: Mike Flanagan - 208/37/147. He's tenth in shutouts (17) and complete games (98); third in games started (328) and innings (2317.7); fourth in K's (1297); and fifth in wins (141).

SP6: Mike Cuellar - 175/50/178. He's third in shutouts (30); sixth in games started (283), innings (2028.3), and complete games (133); fifth in K's (1011); fourth in wins (143); and third in winning percentage (.619).

If we include the pre-Retrosheet time, then Urban Shocker (342/65/283) slots into the third spot pretty comfortably. It's nice that the five-year totals and the overall rankings line-up pretty well.

So mixing the pitchers with the position players the top 10 looks more like this:

#10: Paul Blair (327 runs above replacement - 32.3 wins above replacement)
#9: Brady Anderson (345 - 33.4)
#8: Bobby Grich (314 - 33.1)
#7: Frank Robinson (298 - 33.1)
#6: Boog Powell (346 - 38.1)
#5: Mike Mussina (517 - around 50, assuming slightly over 10 runs/win)
#4: Eddie Murray (550 - 57.1)
#3: Jim Palmer (656 - Sean Smith has him at 64.5 WAR, which is close to 10 runs/win)
#2: Brooks Robinson (700 - 70.4)
#1: Cal Ripken Jr. (904 - 91.2)

It's not definitive, but I think it's close. For your viewing pleasure (click for clearer picture):

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