baltimore orioles

The Orioles Are Good, But Very Lucky

The Baltimore Orioles are the American League East Champions this year, and rightfully so. This is a team led by veteran presences such as Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, along with youngster Manny Machado being the best young infielder in the game.

Wait, what happened? Okay, scratch that then. At least they have a pretty solid rotation led by offseason signing Ubaldo Jimenez, who will be the most trusted guy in their rotation in this upcoming postseason run.

Okay, now you just have to be messing with me. Is Adam Jones still there? Nelson Cruz? Okay, that’s a little relieving then.

Somehow, the Orioles won the division, and still deserved it the most. Even though most of their notable names went down for several different reasons, their replacements did good enough to ensure the team wins. The best example of this: Steve Pearce.

Steve Pearce is arguably the most valuable on the Orioles this season, and he doesn’t even have 400 plate appearances. He’s filled in wherever he needed to, whether that was at first when Davis went down with an injury (later with a suspension), or in left field when David Lough wouldn’t produce offensively. Pearce is currently 2nd on the team in overall WAR with 4.8 and could easily be a 5 WAR if he plays every game left in the regular season.

Here’s where the “luck factor” comes in. Steve Pearce was always labeled as an offensive prospect when he was in the Pirates organization, but just couldn’t find his groove when he eventually made it to the Majors. This led to him being bounced around in 2012, playing with the Orioles, Astros & Yankees. He eventually did make his way back to Baltimore in late September of that year. Before this season, Pearce has never finished a season with a WAR above 1 or played in more than 50 games. Whether this is the “real” Steve Pearce is yet to be determined, but right now, the Orioles don’t care.

Another example is Caleb Joseph. A 28 year old rookie catcher who had to take on a rotation that many viewed as less than average. Well, that “less than average” rotation has flourished in the 2nd half of this season with Joseph behind the plate for most of it. And for Joseph’s value? He will probably finish with a WAR at or around 1 (he’s currently at 0.9), which is more than the Orioles could have asked for from a guy who considered quitting baseball just a year ago.

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Want more examples of pure luck? How about late season acquisitions Alejandro De Aza and Jimmy Paredes. In 16 games in Baltimore, De Aza is slashing .308/.366/.554 with 2 home runs and 9 RBI’s. And for Paredes; he’s currently slashing .350/.381/.600 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI’s in 13 games. Now, obviously these are small sample sizes for players nobody would expect this kind of production from, but De Aza and Paredes have been two big parts in the last month of games for Baltimore.

With everything in life, luck is involved. You can’t escape it, no matter what you do. Obviously all of these players have the skill to be their absolute best, and that has obviously shown this season, but luck plays a big part in it as well. How this translates to postseason play is another thing, since it’s a completely different atmosphere. One thing is certain though: the Orioles will be playing in the playoff while Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Ubaldo Jimenez all have to watch.

The Trade the Orioles Lost and The Curious Case of Jake Arrieta

On July 2nd, 2013, the Orioles traded Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Chicago Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. With their eyes on the playoffs, the Orioles wanted to add a veteran presence to a struggling rotation and they figured that Scott Feldman could be that guy. He wasn’t.

With Feldman now in Houston and Clevenger in AAA Norfolk, the Orioles have nobody left on their Major League roster from this trade. The Cubs still have Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop on their Major League roster, and they’re both performing well. Before tonight, Arrieta was 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .185 BAA & 64 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. Pedro Strop is 0-3 with a 3.08 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, .176 BAA & 30 strikeouts in 26.1 innings pitched.

This post however, will focus more on the season Arrieta has been having and how the Orioles are probably kicking themselves for trading him.

Dan Duquette hasn’t made that many bad moves in his time as the Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations (what a mouthful), and this was probably his worst. He resigned Adam Jones to keep him in Baltimore for a long time, he talked the Astros into taking L.J. Hoes and Josh Hader for Bud Norris, who is easily the Orioles best pitcher now, he gave Nelson Cruz $8 million when no other team wanted him, he traded for Joe Saunders who led the Orioles to two playoff game wins and several others.

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The Arrieta trade at the time seemed logical; get a reliable veteran starter and a solid backup for Matt Wieters by sending two struggling pitchers to a struggling organization. After almost a year since that trade occured, it’s a completely different precedent. Jake Arrieta has now come close to a no hitter TWICE and Pedro Strop has become a reliable set up man in the Chicago bullpen.

It’s also unclear if Arrieta can keep up these kinds of starts but it does further the suspicion that a change of scenery is all a guy needs, or is it?

When the Orioles developed Arrieta through their Minor League system, they did not allow him to throw his cutter. This has been their philosophy with young pitchers since Dan Duquette took over and brought on Rick Peterson to help develop pitchers, such as Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. They believe that throwing the cutter makes their arm more prone to injury than any other pitch.

The thing with pitching is that almost every pitch can lead to an arm injury, whether it’s in the elbow or shoulder. Throwing a baseball is the most unnatural arm movement you can do and when you do it 100 times every five days, it’s even worse. If any pitch is detrimental to a young pitcher or any pitcher, it’s the slider. With the flick of the wrist that comes with throwing a slider, it’s using that ligament that gets damaged and needs Tommy John Surgery to get back to normal.

Nonetheless, with the Orioles not allowing Arrieta to throw his best pitch, they limited what he could have been as a starter for them. Even that limited talent was exception at times, but that’s not the only thing that comes to the table with pitching.

A big part of pitching and baseball as a whole is how you approach it mentally. If you have the wrong frame of mind, you can’t perform your best. Jake Arrieta is the perfect example of this. A young pitcher with the talent to be a number 2 or even a number 1 in a rotation, but had the wrong mindset when he approached his starts. Buck Showalter said “The thing he’s got to solve is the mental side of it.” when Arrieta was sent down to AAA Norfolk after a disastrous April, 2013 start for the Orioles.

Arrieta stated after that game that he had let previous instances of performing poorly get to him when he was pitching well. He also talked about anxiety and how he feels he creates it for himself, which can be a pitcher’s nightmare. Anxiety brought on by poor performance and thinking about your past poor performances can erase all of your talent so fast.

Jake Arrieta

For Jake Arrieta’s sake, I hope he’s found a way to control his thoughts while pitching to let his stuff get hitters out and be the best pitcher he can be. As someone as promising as him, you can do nothing but root for him when this kind of stuff happens. Someone who has seen some of the lowest lows and is now experiencing some of the higher highs that come with playing baseball deserves all the support he can get, and he definitely has it from me.

BEN REVERE HIT A HOME RUN

BEN REVERE, OF THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES, HIT HIS FIRST CAREER HOME RUN ON WEDNESDAY. WITH 1,565 CAREER PLATE APPEARANCES, BEN REVERE ACTUALLY HIT THE BASEBALL OVER THE WALL FOR A HOME RUN. AS YOU CAN TELL, THIS CALLS FOR TYPING THIS WHOLE THING IN CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE BASEBALL IS JUST WEIRD LIKE THAT.

HERE ARE A LIST OF THINGS IN BASEBALL THAT HAPPENED BETWEEN BEN REVERE’S FIRST AT BAT AND HIM HITTING THE HOME RUN.

  • THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS WON THEIR FIRST TWO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE MOVING TO SAN FRANCISCO
  • THE FLORIDA MARLINS BECAME THE MIAMI MARLINS
  • THE TEXAS RANGERS LOST IN THE WORLD SERIES…IN CONSECUTIVE SEASONS
  • THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES, PITTSBURGH PIRATES, OAKLAND ATHLETICS, AND WASHINGTON NATIONALS ALL MADE IT TO THE POSTSEASON
  • 18 PLAYERS WERE SUSPENDED FOR PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS
  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ STRUCK OUT 24 TIMES IN THE POSTSEASON
  • ALEX RODRIGUEZ HAS BEEN PAID OVER $122,000,000
  • MARIANO RIVERA RETIRED
  • JACOBY ELLSBURY LEFT THE RED SOX FOR THE YANKEES
  • KEVIN YOUKILIS PLAYED FOR THE YANKEES
  • MIKE TROUT POSTED A 23.4 WAR
  • MIKE STANTON CHANGED HIS NAME TO GIANCARLO
  • FAUSTO CARMONA TURNED INTO ROBERTO HERNANDEZ
  • 15 NO HITTERS WERE PITCHED
  • HOMER BAILEY PITCHED TWO NO HITTERS
  • BUSTER POSEY CAUGHT TWO NO HITTERS (MATT CAIN & TIM LINCECUM)
  • THERE WERE SEVEN NO HITTERS IN 2012
  • THE SAN DIEFO PADRES HAVE STILL NOT THROWN A NO HITTER
  • AND FINALLY, JOSH LUEKE WAS STILL A RAPIST

CONGRATULATIONS TO BEN ON HIS FIRST CAREER HOME RUN. HE WILL TURN THE BATON OVER TO BROCK HOLT, WHO HAS GONE 211 PLATE APPEARANCES WITHOUT HIS FIRST CAREER HOME RUN.

Manny Machado: 80 Grade Everything

Manny Machado is the Orioles third baseman, and he is very well received around the league. Many fans go to see the youngster play an amazing third base, which he was recognized for with the Platinum Glove, which I guess is a thing now. There are many things to love about Machado, so I figured I’d help point out a few things that would get an 80 grade on the rating scale that baseball players are usually measured by.

80 GRADE DERP

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80 GRADE SMILE/LAUGH

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80 GRADE HEAD NODDING 

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80 GRADE HOME RUN CELEBRATIONS

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AND FINALLY, 80 GRADE DEFENSE

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Never change, Manny ❤

 

Happy Birthday Chris Davis

Today is the birthday of somebody very important in my life, and hopefully your life. Today is the day all of the planets aligned, and the 2nd coming of Jesus was born, and his name is Christopher Lyn Davis. This amazing human being led the Majors with 53 HR’s and 138 RBI’s, even though RBI’s are completely useless to keep track of, but Davis still led in them. He also led the league in total bases with 370, and finished with a 1.004 OPS, which is very, very good. 

Now, let’s take a look at some of his home run stats, because those are very fun to read. Davis has hit three home runs off of Ivan Nova, Carlos Villaneuva, Ervin Santana, and Rick Porcello. Davis has hit most of his home runs against the Blue Jays (19), then the Yankees (14). His third career home run came off of former Oriole, Sidney Ponson, who is only one of five Aruba-born MLB players. Davis has hit two home runs off of Roberto Hernandez, both came after he changed his name from Fausto Carmona. On April 13 & 14, 2009, Davis hit home runs in back-to-back games against the Orioles, his current team. This happened again on April 25 & 26. 

On April 13, 2009, Davis hit a home run against the player he would be traded for, Koji Uehara. Davis only hit one home run in 2010, against his future teammate with the Orioles, Francisco Rodriguez. Davis’ 69th home run was hit on September 11, 2012 off of J.P. Howell. Davis hit a home run in four of the last five games of the 2012 season. Within the first four games of the 2013 season, Davis joined Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, and Nelson Cruz as one of four MLB players in history to hit a home run in each of the first four games at the beginning of a season. In the last four games before the 2013 All-Star Break, Davis hit a home run in each of the four games. On September 13, 2013, Davis became one of three people in Orioles history to hit 50 home runs in one season, joining Jim Gentile and Brady Anderson. 

To wrap all of these facts up, Davis only has one walk off home run, off Brandon Morrow. Only time will tell if Davis continues this kind of production, or he regresses, but for now, we can all enjoy all of these facts, and these great Chris Davis pictures/gifs. Happy Birthday, Chris.

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Chris Davis

 

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For our final gif, Buck Showalter sums up how we all feel about the God among us. Love you, Chris ❤

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