Thursday, January 5, 2012

Orioles Stealing: Conservative Yet Effective?

The 2011 Baltimore Orioles were 5th in SB% at 76%. However, they only had 81 SB, which ranked 25th in the MLB. This shows that while the Orioles were very effective at stealing bases, they were often very conservative on the base paths. What possible reason could there be for such an effective but conservative approach on the base paths? It could very well be Showalters' style of managing, or it could be the fact that the Orioles might lack the necessary speed to even attempt more SB.

If you take a look at the Orioles top five SB leaders for the 2011 season, it might surprise you a little.

1) Robert Andino: 13/16 for an 81% SB%
2) Nick Markakis: 12/15 for an 80% SB%
3) Adam Jones: 12/16 for a 75% SB%
4) Matt Angle: 11/12 for a 92% SB%
5) Nolan Reimold: 7/9 for a 78% SB%

(All % were rounded up)

As you can see, the Orioles "Utility INF" was the leading SB threat for the Orioles in 2011. Personally, I do not think of Andino as a guy who is a SB threat, so it comes to a surprise that he led the team. But if you delve deeper into the subject, you see how little speed the Orioles truly have in their starting lineup. Markakis and Jones could certainly increase their SB attempts, but it may make them less effective. Angle will have a tough time cracking the Orioles roster, with the recent signings of OF Endy Chavez and Jai Miler (who is out of options).

Another option that you have to consider for the Orioles' strong conservatism on the bases is that they are often down in games early and a lot. With the disaster called the Orioles' rotation, it is tough to be in many scenarios where they can risk attempting a SB. The Orioles also had plenty of "turtles" on the base-paths. Vlad Guerruero, Matt Wieters, JJ Hardy, and Chris Davis were not exactly the most fleet of foot.

In reality, the Orioles will most likely continue their conservative and effective approach on the base-paths this season. If  Brian Roberts returns to the club healthy he could have an impact on these statistics. Let's remember that he led the club in SB for the past couple years he was not hurt. Obviously SB are probably the least of the Orioles' worries right now, and it sure seems that Showalter has taken that approach as well. I expect them to have under 100 SB again in 2012.

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