Lindbergh: The Lone Oriole…explainer.
There’s been a lot of numerical negativity surrounding the Orioles this spring, what’s the main takeaway that you see when you look at them?
I was as guilty as anyone else [last year saying that] the Orioles weren’t going to last, and that they didn’t have the run differential that would go with their record, that their record in one-run games would regress. And they managed to sustain that the entire season and made a lot of us look wrong.
A lot of people say this about the sabermetric sort of people, that we’re a little too negative about the Orioles. And I think maybe there’s something to that. … Clearly [the Orioles] made some big strides, but I guess the numerical negativity this winter is just that they had that best record ever in one-run games, which is not something that teams have shown any ability to sustain from season to season. Even if it is partially a result of a good bullpen and not just good luck, it seems that bullpen performance is one of the least stable aspects of a team from season to season.
A good hitting team can often be a good hitting team the next season, and a team with good starting pitching often can be able to sustain that. But bullpen performance fluctuates a lot from year to year, so there’s just some concern that they were fortunate in their one-run record last year and that they won’t be as much this year. And they had a quiet offseason while a lot of their division rivals were busy, so there’s not a lot of improvement, at least on paper, to overcome that regression that would be expected.
As a club it seems like the Orioles are embracing sabermetrics more and more now under [executive vice president Dan] Duquette. How do they rank, looking it them against the other teams, in terms of how well they use the advanced numbers.
It’s hard to say, because we don’t really know what goes on in front offices. They’re not one of the more vocal teams when it comes to embracing stats. They don’t have people in their front office who used to be [Baseball Prospectus] writers or guys who were writing about sabermetrics on the internet, like a lot of teams do.
They don’t have a very vocal, public stats presense, so I don’t know. But there really isn’t a team in baseball without someone working on stats all the time. I know there was someone from the Orioles down at the [SABR Analytics Conference earlier this month in Phoenix], so certainly they have people doing that and looking at that. I would think that just based on the fact that historically they haven’t been a huge proponent of sabermetrics leads me to think that maybe they’re still playing catch-up in that area and maybe aren’t ahead of the pack. But it’s hard to say from outside. It’s possible that they’re really advanced about those things and just like to keep quiet about it, which certainly makes sense.