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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Knobler: If it’s close, the Orioles win, at a rate that is making history

Knobler’s world and welcome to it. (h/t William Windom)

Yes, 42-18. The Orioles have won 70 percent of their close games.

The last team to do that was the 1954 Indians (who won a lot of every kind of game, on the way to a 111-43 record). The only other teams in modern baseball history to win 70 percent of games decided by one or two runs were the 1906 Cubs and the 1909 Pirates.

The 2002 “Moneyball” A’s, who celebrated their 10-year reunion this weekend, came close, with a 53-23 record in games decided by one or two runs, according to research done through baseball-reference.com.

Why are the Orioles so good in close games? Some of it, no doubt, is due to luck. Some people will look at the Orioles’ severely negative run differential (they’ve allowed 43 more runs than they’ve scored) and say that a lot of it is luck.

...Oh, and that run differential. It’s minus-43, the same as the Royals and worse than the Phillies.

At this point, it doesn’t matter.

When it’s close, the Orioles win. So far, that’s been good enough.

Repoz Posted: August 19, 2012 at 06:31 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: orioles, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Juan V Posted: August 19, 2012 at 09:57 PM (#4212212)
That headline reads like a Van Der Graaf Generator album title.
   2. Esoteric Posted: August 19, 2012 at 10:18 PM (#4212220)
Honestly? Godspeed to them. As a guy who nursed a grudge against the Orioles for a long, long time due to the unspeakable iniquity of Peter Angelos, I find myself with nothing but good wishes for them. What they're doing is improbable and incredibly tenuous by every measure of baseball history and statistical probability, but I hope to hell they somehow manage to pull it off.

Either way, Buck Showalter has to be the leading candidate for AL Manager of the Year.
   3. DKDC Posted: August 19, 2012 at 11:13 PM (#4212241)
I have no explanation for it.

Today, their one decent healthy starting pitcher (the ONLY player on the team with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title) gave up 5 runs in the first. So of course the Orioles come back and score 7 and don't allow another run.

Im just enjoying the ride, but this weekend I started scoreboard watching and looking at the pitching matchups for the next couple series, which means Lucy can pull away her football whenever shes ready.
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 19, 2012 at 11:18 PM (#4212244)
As a guy who nursed a grudge against the Orioles for a long, long time due to the unspeakable iniquity of Peter Angelos, I find myself with nothing but good wishes for them.

There are probably several million other fans of the pre-Angelos O's who right now are feeling a lot of ambivalence. Love the team, love the city, but detest the creepy little owner. Sort of like a milder case of what former Redskins fans go through every year.
   5. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2012 at 11:25 PM (#4212250)
On August 6th I wrote:

Baltimore has played 6 less home games so far and the next 7 games are against Seattle and KC at home. So there is that. But then 41 of their next 44 games are against teams in which the worst record as of right now is 53-55.


They cleaned up on Seattle and KC going 5-2 and so far they are 4-2 against the good teams in this final stretch.

I also wrote:

Orioles-10 games left against bad records out 54
A's-19/54
Angels-18/53
Tigers-25/54
Rays-9/54
Red Sox-11/53


The Rays have managed to go 11-2 in the same stretch so the Rays picked up 2.5 games on the Orioles and the A's have only lost a half game to the Orioles through this stretch. It gets a lot harder from here on out. Though Toronto collapsing sure does soften up their schedule.
   6.   Posted: August 19, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4212260)
Their high-water mark was on May 19th, when they were 27-14. They've basically been clinging since then, going 39-41 over the last 80 games, and I don't know if they'll be able to hold on for the last month. Should be interesting.
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM (#4212263)
Is there any reason to believe this isn't just dumb luck?
   8. McCoy Posted: August 20, 2012 at 12:05 AM (#4212268)
Is there any reason to believe this isn't just dumb luck?

In these 60 games the Orioles have allowed on average 3.62 runs to score and the Orioles have scored 4.13 runs. The Orioles overall have scored 4.21 runs or just 13 runs more in the games in which they did not win or lose by 2 runs or less. Meanwhile the Orioles have allowed 4.52 runs to score per game overall or 4.9 rpg in games not decided by 2 runs or less.

So basically it isn't just dumb luck. What's happening is that when the pitching is good the score stays close and the Orioles win because the hitting stays consistently the same in either situation. Is it a repeatable skill? No, but it certainly isn't a spin on the roulette wheel.
   9. Greg K Posted: August 20, 2012 at 04:09 AM (#4212304)
It's always funner to root for the team of losers winning by dumb luck than a bunch of guys who are actually good at baseball. Unless the guys who are good at baseball are my team. (Though I'm a Jays fan so that hasn't been a problem in a while).

The Wild Card race feels like one of those Australian multiple choice election ballots.

My AL rooting selections go
1. Oakland
2. Baltimore
3. Tampa Bay
4. WRITE IN CANDIDATE: Blue Jays (it's still mathematically possible, right?)

NL
1. Pittsburgh
2. Atlanta
3. San Francisco
   10. RollingWave Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:00 AM (#4212308)
It is mildly amusing that Wei-Yin Chen has been much more valuable than Yu Darvish so far this year.

Chen is a legitimately solid pitcher though. his fastball is really quite sneaky. it's quite amazing to see how many dudes takes horrible hacks at what looks like a strait pitch on the screen.
   11. DKDC Posted: August 20, 2012 at 07:37 AM (#4212316)
Their high-water mark was on May 19th, when they were 27-14. They've basically been clinging since then, going 39-41 over the last 80 games


That's one way to pick selective endpoints to tell a story, but it doesn't really tell the full story of the ups and downs:

The Orioles started out 27-14. The had a positive run differential but not as good as their record.
They then proceeded to get their brains beaten in by going 19-30 over the next 39 games. They were out scored by boatloads.
Over the last month or so, they have gone 20-11, with a positive run differential, but not as good as their record.

The Rays have managed to go 11-2 in the same stretch so the Rays picked up 2.5 games on the Orioles and the A's have only lost a half game to the Orioles through this stretch. It gets a lot harder from here on out. Though Toronto collapsing sure does soften up their schedule.


Also, they are now ahead of the White Sox. As long as they remain ahead of at least one of the Tigers or White Sox, they dont have to worry about the other one.
   12. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: August 20, 2012 at 08:34 AM (#4212340)
Yeah, back about a month ago when they were getting pounded by the Twins, it sure looked for all the world like the inevitable collapse was underway, and I'll bet that about 95% of Orioles fans at that time were thinking "here we go again". But somehow they got it turned around again and have played great since then, despite having had to do the mother of all juggling acts with the starting rotation.
   13. The_Ex Posted: August 20, 2012 at 09:15 AM (#4212366)
it's quite amazing to see how many dudes takes horrible hacks at what looks like a strait pitch on the screen.

It's a geology trap!
   14. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 20, 2012 at 09:21 AM (#4212371)
The Orioles and Angels are fascinating counterpoints. The Angels have three of the best players in baseball but have struggled most of the year. The Orioles have a bunch of decent guys but no superstars, and yet they refuse to go away. I'm sure a lot of this is luck/random, but it's fun to watch.
   15. Belfry Bob Posted: August 20, 2012 at 09:23 AM (#4212374)
I wore my vintage 1989 'Why Not?' shirt to the one game I got to attend during the last homestand. The comments and smiles from other fans were great (though the shirt is paper-thin and smells a tiny bit musty despite lots of washings, sort of like Mark Reynolds' batting average), and I look forward to wearing it again this weekend.

(I'd say I am glad I can still get into a shirt I wore in 1989, but I was too heavy then, so being ten pounds lighter now/shrinkage being equal doesn't make me as happy as it could!)

After dropping our Birds in the Belfry website three seasons ago because there were no more ways to write the same old crap every day/week/month after eight years, I'm genuinely engaged for the first time in a long long time. And Pythag be damned, it feels good!

Maybe Flanny is looking down on this club. I sure hope he's enjoying this somewhere.
   16. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 20, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4212386)
Assuming the standings stay the same--or, more to the point here, that Boston makes no run--this will be the first time that the AL East has ever had the current division order, since it became possible lo those many years ago. The O's finished third in '04, but ahead of Toronto and TB.
   17. Charlie O Posted: August 20, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4212574)
Either way, Buck Showalter has to be the leading candidate for AL Manager of the Year.


If it's based on the team surpassing expectations, I'm not so sure he would have a clear lead over Ventura or Melvin.
   18.   Posted: August 20, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4212589)

That's one way to pick selective endpoints to tell a story, but it doesn't really tell the full story of the ups and downs:

The Orioles started out 27-14. The had a positive run differential but not as good as their record.
They then proceeded to get their brains beaten in by going 19-30 over the next 39 games. They were out scored by boatloads.
Over the last month or so, they have gone 20-11, with a positive run differential, but not as good as their record.


I don't see how this tells a different "story" than what I was telling. You could break it down to every three game stretch if you wanted to. The point is, their best record was on May 19th, which was 3 months ago.
   19. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: August 20, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4212594)
It took me an embarassingly long time to realize that the "Chen" from Orioles box scores was not Bruce.
   20. Belfry Bob Posted: August 20, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4213001)
I don't see how this tells a different "story" than what I was telling. You could break it down to every three game stretch if you wanted to. The point is, their best record was on May 19th, which was 3 months ago.


Of course it tells a different story. The 'point' doesn't matter nearly as much as how the team has rebounded from the All-Star crash and burn. The roster looks a lot different now than it did in May, and during the swoon. It's more germaine to look at how they are playing over the last month than with, say, the highs of having Reimold and Hammel on the club and healthy, to the lows of having Hammel limping around and the kiddie corps of starters imploding to the patchwork lineup of today that is somehow geeing it done.

The supposed point that they are 'clinging' over the past 80 games really doesn't mean much of anything.

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