Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stealing Potential Runs Away

   Man on second, One Out. The Orioles are down a run going into the ladder part of the game. Nick Markakis is thrown out at third attempting to steal.  In conclusion, the fans pick up the closest object near them and hurl it at their TV screen.
   That is essentially what happened last night. I'm not entirely sure what the idea was. Markakis couldn't have been given the steal sign...right? Was it a failed hit and run? Regardless of what happened, it further proved that the Orioles are absolutely terrible at stealing bases.

In the off-season I took a look at the Orioles SB leaders from 2011:

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%

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. 
 2011, meet 2012. The Orioles are honestly the exact opposite of this so far. They are last with 11 SB, and have a SB% of 50%, which is also last. Any way you look at it, those are awful stats. The 2012 top five leaders in SB? It's a little funny to be honest:

1) Adam Jones: 6/9 for a 67% SB%
2) Nick Johnson: 2/0 for a 100% SB%
3) Nolan Reimold: 1/0 for a 100% SB%
4) Nick Markakis: 1/1 for a 50% SB%
5) Mark Reynolds: 1/1 for a 50% SB%

   Let's get this out of the way first. Nick Johnson is the most efficient base-stealer on this team at the time. There are so many jokes I could use right now on that, but the point has been made. Robert Andino was the Orioles best base-stealer from 2011, and is 0/2. So clearly this team has been dreadful running the bases. It makes me question why they would even bother to run at all. The one reason I could see them moving the runner is because the Orioles are currently dead last in hitting into double plays with 43. That is beyond dreadful as well, and I totally would understand a manager wanting the runners to get a head start. Unfortunately for Buck, this team simply has no true base threats besides Xavier Avery. I think Adam Jones is an average-to-above-average runner, but he is not a true threat running.

   Another problem is that the Orioles are currently 17th with a .313 OBP. While they rank 6th with a .328 wOBA, they are simply not that greatest team at getting on base. The wOBA is skewed from the mass of HR they are hitting. They currently lead the league with 60 HR, which is absolutely fantastic. This brings me back to the original point. The Orioles are not above-average at getting on base, and they are hurting themselves attempting to steal. Since they lead the league in HR, wouldn't it be wise to not bother stealing in key situations like last night? I completely understand that it is smart to steal every once in a while to keep the defense on their heels, but it is completely unnecessary to steal for the hell of it. I might honestly be nitpicking here, but I would prefer this team to not give up runners any more than they have to.

   By the end of the season I suspect that the team will be a little better on the base paths. In general, I think it would be wise to slow down the attempts until someone proves they can actually swipe a base and take a runner off that could be knocked in via the long ball!


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