Monday, May 28, 2012

Chris Davis Continued Contact

   First base has been a problem for the Orioles for a long time. When the Orioles made the commitment to use Chris Davis at first for the 2012 season, most people were not very enthusiastic about it. Davis had shown an up-and-down career in his 1082 plate appearances in the bigs. Before the season, I predicted Davis to have a batting line of .250/.306/.450. I thought that was being relatively fair to Davis and I was primarily basing this off what his former statistics indicated. That being said, 2012 has been fairly nice to Davis so far. Can he keep up his above-average production throughout an entire season?

   With a batting line of .305/.339/.513, it's hard to not be impressed with Davis so far. Even more impressive is his .358 wOBA. However, there are a few things that tell me that a regression is much due.

   Davis has a career BB% of 6.2%. In 2012, that BB% is a mere 4.2%. To show how little he is taking the free pass, put this into perspective. Davis has one more HR (8) on the year than BB (7). I'm probably throwing an assumption out here, but that does not sound like something that bodes well for a player. His BB% could increase to the norm, but even then it's not exactly a significant jump. Another interesting note on Davis is his .375 BABIP this season. With a career BABIP of .341, it's obviously going to regress this season, but it is amazing that he has a .358 wOBA still with so little free passes on the year. The HR's certainly inflate it a little. Even more mind-boggling is that Davis swings or takes a strike on the first pitch of at-bats roughly 60% of the time. That is a little high for my liking, but Davis has somehow made it work this season. It does seem that good pitchers' have abused Davis on this so far. A lefties' low sweeping breaking ball on the outside corner has been Kryptonite for him this year (It generally is for most lefties). The high fastball has also seemed to kill Davis in the recent weeks.

   There has not been much change in his O-Swing%,Z-Swing, Swing%, O-Contact%, or Contact%.
   His Z-Contact% is well above his career average. From Fangraphs, Z-Contact% is defined as "The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with inside the strike zone when swinging the bat". This is a nice indicator for Davis in 2012. In the past he has made decent contact on pitches in the zone, but a 10% jump is rather large. It has been apparent for the most part. He seems to not be striking out as much within the zone, even though his 26.9 K% still indicates he is striking out a lot. However I would venture to guess that majority of those K's have been outside the zone. In my opinion, this has much to do with his success. More contact will obviously lead to a higher BABIP, and higher wOBA.
   In the end, I do expect Davis to regress a little. That does not mean he cannot stay productive at the corner. He may never be a top option there, but he provides power and is serving as a worthy option in a time where a first basemen is not easy to come by. Chris Davis is still going to be Chris Davis, but I think Orioles fans should be a little impressed with his season so far. His pitching only makes him more impressive!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wieters Post-Marathon Slump

   As most Orioles fan know, Matt Wieters has been in a big lull since that 17-inning marathon in Boston. He also had the "privilege" of catching a 15-inning and 11-inning game the next week. That certainly takes a toll on a player, especially a catcher. While I highly doubt anyone should be worried about Wieters over the long run, it does worry me that the Orioles seem to be milking him for every last ounce behind the plate. Take a look at Wieters versus Jarrod Saltalamacchia since that marathon game:

   Wieters has been up to the plate 16 more times than Saltalamacchia has. Some of that is due to the 15-inning and 11-inning game. But even then, that is only about 3-4 more PA. Wieters has started 15 games since the marathon (He was the DH in 3). Saltalamacchia has started 11 games. It's no denying that Wieters has the much better defensive ability. But over this span, Saltalamacchia seems to have outproduced him. There are obviously a large amount of other factors that go into a "slump", but I thought it was just interesting to compare the two since then. I would say Wieters has had it a little tougher since then although DHing is not the same as catching a full game. If the Orioles had a backup Catcher that they could fall on such as Kelly Shoppach, maybe Wieters would have gotten a little more rest during this span. Unfortunately the Orioles still cannot figure out what is going on with the backup role. I don't think Luis Exposito is the answer. Taylor Teagarden seems to be a sunk cost at this point. Ronny Paulinio seemed like the best backup option, not to mention he can handle lefties very well. I personally thought his bat was good off the bench too.

   It's only a matter of time before Wieters breaks out of his slump, but it's clear that the long nights behind the plate have taken at least some toll on his game.

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!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Looking For A Writer

   Over the past two years, I have put an enormous amount of heart and effort into the EntreprenOriole Blog. It originally was started as a spot where I could jot down my opinions and ideas on the current events happening within the Orioles organization. After a year or so it grew, and I became much more engraved into the blog. I like to think that over the past year I have written some of  my best work. The reason is because I truly love the game of baseball and the Orioles.

   I am now looking for someone else who truly loves the baseball and the Orioles. The blog is often a tedious playground, as a good post takes a lot of time and effort. However, it is well worth it when all is said and done. I only have a few requirements for any potential writer:

- Must have a love for the game of baseball.
- Must have a clear understanding of the game and all rules (including the business aspect).
- Must be statistically inclined or knowledgeable in some aspect.
- Must be active with Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter.
- (Optional) Must Have an Understanding or a following of the minor leagues and their prospects (GCL to AAA)

   I would love to bring in someone who could help grow the EntreprenOriole. It has been a great pleasure writing and growing the blog on my own, but I would greatly welcome another to help. It would also be an opportunity to get your work out there. There will be no "minimal amount of posts" per week or month. If you do a good job writing and help the fan-base learn, then that is absolutely enough.

You can reach me by:
 Direct Messaging me on Twitter: @tuckerblair89

I look forward to the addition of a talented writer in the future.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Clutch Factor and HR Leverage

   The upstart Orioles have surely surprised many in the 2012 season. While the winning may not continue its current pace all year, it still has been a pleasant surprise. I have joked around on twitter about how a typical Orioles game this year consists of K's, Errors, Double-Plays and HR. A ton of each too.

   In fact, the Orioles are currently 3rd in the league with 45 HR (As of 5/9/12). So obviously the round-tripper is a big reason for their current success. This got myself thinking; Since they are winning with the HR, who exactly is propelling the Orioles into winning via the long-ball? Who are the "clutch" players on this team when it comes to the long-ball? I decided to do a little research on the Orioles' current nine starters and see exactly how "clutch" their HR have been over their careers.

   Before jumping too ahead of ourselves, it is probably important to understand Leverage. Baseball Reference defines leverage as:

Within a game, there are plays that are more pivotal than others. We attempt to quantify these plays with a stat called leverage index (LI). LI looks at the possible changes in win probability in a give situation and situations where dramatic swings in win probability are possible (runner on second late in a tie game) have higher LI's than situations where there can be no large change in win probability (late innings of a 12-run blowout).
The stat is normalized so that on average the leverage is 1.00. In tense situations, the leverage is higher than 1.00 (up to about 10) and in low-tension situations the leverage is between 0 and 1.0.
 With that, I took a look at the HR leverage for all nine players (These are career numbers):

   As shown above, I calculated the percentage of High, Medium, and Low Leverage HR. I went a little further and ranked them 1-9:
   Nolan Reimold comes out on top with the best high leverage HR%. At first glance, he seems to be the most "clutch" player on the team in terms of HR. Matt Wieters and Robert Andino are also "clutch". However, I went on and did a further ranking of these numbers:

   I simply tallied up their ranks from each leverage and totaled them together to create a "clutch" score. As shown above, Robert Andino makes the most out of his minimal amount of HR. Matt Wieters truly is a clutch hitting HR machine. Nolan Reimold surprisingly falls back a little in this list. Even more surprising was the lack of "clutch" HR hitting from JJ Hardy. Then again, majority of his HR have been Solo Shots in the early parts of the game against starters (24/30 in 2011, 6/7 in 2012)

   In Conclusion, this is just a fun way to look at HR as the Orioles continue to be near the top of the league. Does this have much correlation with a players true "clutch" level? Maybe. It's a tough topic to crack, and there are still some out there that totally disregard any form of the word "clutch". However, it is correct to say that Robert Andino, Matt Wieters, and Nolan Reimold are the top three "clutch"-hitting HR guys on the Orioles. There is still plenty of time for someone to make the jump over them!