Friday, October 12, 2012

Joining Baltimore Sports and Life

I just wanted to explain some of my inactivity on the blog recently.  I have received an offer to write for Baltimore Sports and Life, something that was definitely exciting for me in terms of exposure and getting to talk even more about Orioles baseball.

As for Warehouse Worthy, it will continue to operate, with myself as a part-time contributor.  There will likely be a month or two of inactivity as we work out the kinks with transitioning much of the ownership of the site to Chad, but you'll still be able to find the same O's analysis here that you've always gotten.

If you want a taste of what I'm doing at BSL, check out my first post.

- Jeff

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Catching Up

First I want to apologize for the absence of posts over the past week or two.  I moved, started a new job and attended a Ravens' game and two O's games on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of last week.  Busy is probably a good way to describe it.

That said, there's something I find really interesting about the O's playoff run.  Having gone to two games early this past week I noticed something special about the attendance.  People on twitter, including myself from time to time have called out "O's fans" for not showing up to the yard and supporting the team.  I can tell you that it was amazing to have 45,000 fans at the Cal Ripken game screaming their heads off and supporting the team.  However, the Rays series this past week saw between 20,000 and 25,000 fans.

Again, calls for people to show up rang out and they might have been warranted.  That's irrelevant though.  If people don't want to enjoy this run and take in the Oriole magic, it's their loss.  I'm perfectly happy to have 25,000 people around at the yard supporting the team.  O's fans, I urge you to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and just get out to the yard for the Jays and Red Sox series to see this season to a close.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Is Zach Britton Back?


That is the only word that can be used to explain Zach Britton’s last four starts.

In his last for outings, Britton is 4-0 with 0.94 ERA and has a K/BB ratio of 29/7. He has also been able to produce at least 10 groundball outs in each of his last four starts.

A big part of Britton’s success is being able to locate his fastball and sinker in the lower-half of the strike zone and the ability of his slider to become an out pitch.

The Blue Jays were absolutely fooled by his slider last night, and were unable to make good contact on any of his fastballs or sinkers.

This is the Zach Britton that Orioles fans were used to seeing in the first half of the 2011 season when Britton was arguably the Orioles best starter until June, when he hit a brick wall (not literally) and ended up on the DL with a strained left shoulder.

But the Britton of the 2011 first-half is back and possibly even better.

While Britton has a still needs to lower his WHIP, 1.44, his strikeout total is starting to increase, going from 5.66 K/9 last season to 7.96 this season.

In his last four starts he has lowered his ERA considerably, going from 6.23 on August 18th to 4.15 as of September 5th.

Britton just needs to keep attacking hitters the way he has been, using his fastball, sinker, and slider. If he continues being aggressive on the mound and being able to locate his pitches, he will continue his dominant ways.

Britton is an integral part of the Orioles rotation right now and his recent success has helped vault the Orioles into a First Place tie with the ailing Yankees.

Hopefully Zach Britton will be able continue to build upon his recent success against American League hitters, because dominate performances will go a long way in bringing the Orioles the AL East title. 

The answer to if Zach Britton is back is yes. If he continues to pitch like this then he's more than back.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Unfamiliar Territory for an Unexpected Team

It’s September 4th and the Orioles are 75-59. They are one game out of first place, behind a Yankees team that is having problems with injuries and old-age.

If you were to ask a baseball fan at the beginning of the 2012 MLB season about the possibility of the Orioles making the playoffs, let alone possibly winning the division, I guarantee no one would have said they could make the playoffs. Not even close.

The only people that would believe the Orioles would make the playoffs were the following: Peter Angelos, Peter Angelos again, someone who is experimenting with hard drugs, and that overly-optimistic Orioles fan that says that team will make the playoffs every year.

While many experts and fans alike believed that the Orioles winning ways were all due to luck, it is no such thing as luck anymore.

Maybe it was luck in April, May, and June. But July, August, and September are the months that show which teams are for real. Despite the Orioles being “lucky”, I do not think luck is the case anymore.

While their run differential is -31, it only shows that when the O’s win it is usually in close games and when they lose, they really lose badly.

The main reason for their successful ways is because of their Einsteinian manager Buck Showalter and because their bullpen has been near-lights out the whole season.

However, a team cannot just win with two good qualities. The O’s may have an unstable rotation, but that rotation has won them plenty of games this year, even with the mixing and matching Buck Showalter has had to do. The O’s lineup may be considered average to below-average, but different players throughout the whole year have been able to contribute each and every day.

While the O’s may have a more difficult schedule left than AL East opponents New York and Tampa Bay, going .500 (14-14) still gives the Orioles a great shot of making the playoffs as one of the two Wild Card teams.

If you still don’t believe in the Orioles chances then I’m not sure what to tell you.

They have been proving everyone wrong this season, and can continue to do so for the next month.

The Orioles could end a 15-year playoff drought and I really believe that they can.

The question all O’s fans have been asking is “why not us?”

Why can’t we do it? The Orioles still continue to prove everyone wrong.

A playoff berth would really be “lucky”, wouldn’t it?!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What Ails Mark Reynolds

A little over a month ago I took a stab at analyzing some of the Oriole hitters using the Pitch F/x for hitters tool from Baseball Prospectus and Brooks Baseball.  Here's a second go-round with the data, this time looking at everyone's favorite 1B/3B/DH Mark Reynolds:

Mark Reynolds has been well, Mark Reynolds this season with one glaring exception.  In fact, look at these numbers from this year and last year:

As you can see, his numbers this season compare fairly favorably to last year with the exception of one little thing.  Those two numbers out to the right highlight the severe power outage that Reynolds has experienced this season.  A drop of .081 in his SLG and ISO (ISO or isolated power is a component of SLG which is why the numbers match) shows that Reynolds has lost considerable power.  For reference, that's the difference equivalent to 2012 Michael Young (0.79 ISO).

So what is the problem?  Well, it's not his ability to hit fastballs, as you can see below:

2011 ISO vs. Hard Pitches (FB, Sinkers, Cutter, etc.)

2012 ISO vs. Hard Pitches (FB, Sinkers, Cutter, etc.)

While there are some differences in these two depictions, the changes are, in my opinion, nominal and don't explain Reynolds' drop off in power.  The following graphs however, might.  They show Reynolds' ISO on breaking pitches, which is how pitchers have been attacking Reynolds since he came to Baltimore.

2011 ISO vs. Breaking Pitches (Curveball, Slider, etc.)

2012 ISO vs. Breaking Pitches (Curveball, Slider, etc.)

As you can see, Reynolds has been demonstrably worse this season against breaking balls than he was in 2011.  Last year Reynolds was able to cover almost the entire strikezone with breaking balls, meaning pitchers would need him to chase.  However, this season pitchers should have no fear of leaving a breaking ball in the zone, so long as it's not right down the middle.

Reynolds' inability to hit breaking balls for power is definitely something O's fans should watch for as the season comes to a close.  If he improves, then maybe bringing him back in 2013 seems like a good idea.  However, if he continues to struggle against breaking balls then he may never get back to those power numbers he once used to be known for.