Saturday, February 05, 2011

Pondering the Orioles' Line Up

The Orioles relented and gave Vladimir Guerrero the money he was looking for. As long as Guerrero passes his physical (no slam dunk), he will join a line up already being touted as a good one. But will it be a good line up? There are dangers apparent to these eyes. Let's look at it first. Here is Buster Olney's projection:

  • 2B - Brian Roberts
  • 1B - Derek Lee
  • RF - Nick Markakis
  • DH - Vladimir Guerrero
  • LF - Luke Scott
  • 3B - Mark Reynolds
  • CF - Adam Jones
  • C - Mark Wieters   oops! Matt **
  • SS - J. J. Hardy

Personally, this Fan would probably move Hardy or Jones to second in the line up and move Reynolds down to the bottom. But if you look at the line up, doesn't it appear to be a bit creaky and clunky to you? Lee, Guerrero, Scott and Markakis are all slow of foot. Roberts missed most of last year with back problems. Hardy is a mystery. And then there will be the strikeouts. As Buster Olney pointed out, the Orioles might be the new Diamondbacks and it's easy to make that observation based on Reynolds being in there. But how whiff-prone will this line up be? If you add up all those nine players and their lifetime strikeout rates, then divide by nine, the Orioles will strike out 21 percent of the time. Fortunately, signing Vlad doesn't add to that total. Avoiding strikeouts has been one of Guerrero's signature skills and of the nine, he has the lowest lifetime strikeout rate. Even so, compare the 21 percent with the Red Sox's projected line up which comes in at an 18 percent strikeout rate and that's skewed upward by adding in Saltalamachhia which is not a given yet.

That might not sound like much of a difference, but 21 percent compared to 18 percent means that the Red Sox put the ball in play more often and not only that, the Red Sox will walk a lot more often than the Orioles too. It's almost like the Orioles have taken too literally to the Earl Weaver credo for the three-run homer. But Weaver's team could also field their positions well and pitch. The Orioles infield with the exception of Hardy, is a weak fielding team. The outfield wasn't bad last year, but put Luke Scott out there and you've weakened the outfield defense too.

A lot would have to go right for this line up to be as good as the Orioles think it is. And unless Hardy bounces back and Lee and Guerrero hold off age for one more year, the line up could implode in a hurry. You have to give the Orioles credit for trying hard. The Duchsherer deal could be a great one. But it seems that this team still isn't as good as the Blue Jays never mind anyone else in the division.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Matt wieters