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Five Baltimore Orioles stats that stand out this week

By Matt Vensel

The Baltimore Sun

4:30 PM EDT, March 13, 2013

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Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Orioles.

one -- hits by J.J. Hardy in 15 spring training at-bats.

By his standards, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy had a down year at the plate in 2012, batting just .238 with a .282 on-base percentage. A few months after he finished year season by batting .185 in six playoff games, Hardy is struggling down in Sarasota. With just one hit in 15 at-bats, Hardy is batting just .067, though three walks bring his on-base percentage up to .211. Hardy has typically swung the bat well in spring training, hitting .330 throughout his career. But his cold spring may become a concern if it continues.

4.38 -- Miguel Gonzalez’s FIP rating in the 2012 season.

Last week I wrote about how based on Fielding Independent Pitching rating, Jake Arrieta could see his earned run average drop in 2013. Looking at the other side of the FIP coin, starter Miguel Gonzalez could see his ERA rise this season. Gonzalez surprised as a 28-year-old rookie, going 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 games, 15 of them starts. He allowed one run in seven innings in his one ALDS start against the New York Yankees. But his 4.38 FIP last season suggested that he wasn’t pitching as well as his ERA might indicate. The Orioles are counting on Gonzalez in the middle of their rotation and are surely hoping that this number does lie.

1.200 -- Conor Jackson’s slugging percentage in March.

Non-roster invitee Conor Jackson, a former first-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks who has played 658 career games in the majors, has been making the most of his opportunity with the Orioles this spring. Battling for one of the team’s bench spots, Jackson has gone 8-for-15 in his past six games with three home runs and five runs batted in. He is batting .533 over that span with a 1.200 slugging percentage and 1.788 OPS. Sure, it is a small sample size and those numbers may be aided by the elements in Florida or the opposition on the mound, but being this year’s version of Jake Fox can’t hurt as he tries to make the club.

minus-6.7 -- Adam Jones’ Ultimate Zone Rating in 2012.

Adam Jones won his second career Gold Glove award in 2012 (his first came in 2009), thanks in part to a robust highlight reel. But the statheads probably disagreed with his selection. Last season, Jones had an Ultimate Zone Rating of negative-7.7, which ranked 47th among center fielders who played at least 200 innings and 11th among the 14 guys who played more than 1,000, according to FanGraphs. That UZR doesn’t deviate far from his three-year average of negative-6.6. There is the potential for error with this statistic, but it’s a pretty reliable indicator of a fielder’s range and defensive value. Gold Gloves are nice, too, though.

78 -- quality starts for the Orioles rotation last season.

The Orioles ranked 21st in the majors with 78 quality starts last season, but that had to be a big relief for the bullpen compared to what the club had done in previous years. From 2007 to 2011, the Orioles averaged 66 quality starts per season and three times had 60 or fewer. They got just 60 quality starts from the rotation in 2011, so getting 78 in 2012 was a nice bump. Another nice bump in 2013 will really help out their bullpen, which pitched very well last year.

Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? E-mail me at matt.vensel@baltsun.com or contact me on Twitter at @mattvensel. If I end up using it, I’ll be sure to give you a nice plug on the blog.