We’re not even halfway through 2013 and the Orioles have already lost more one-run games than in all of 2012.
Of course, the Orioles were something special last season, winning 93 games and making the playoffs thanks in large part to a 29-9 record in one-run games, giving them the best winning percentage (.763) in MLB history in that situation.
Back in spring training, I wrote a blog post about whether their one-run success was sustainable. In the post, I cited historical data compiled by Blake Murphy of Beyond the Box Score. Murphy had drawn the conclusion that besides a few exceptions, most teams that had a lopsided record in one-run games -- whether it was a winning record or a losing one -- will move back toward a .500 record in one-run games the following season.
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Nearly three full months into the 2013 season, the Orioles are proving Murphy’s point: sustaining it would be highly unlikely.
The Orioles, who lost their first three one-run games back in April, are 11-10 in one-run games in 2013. That .524 winning percentage is solid, but nowhere near their historical 2012.
For what it’s worth, the Orioles are 18-15 in games decided by two runs or fewer, so they are still lucky, clutch or a little of both.
I know what you are thinking, because I thought it also: The Orioles score so many runs -- they are second in baseball right now -- that their record in one-run games isn’t as big of a deal as it was a season ago, when the Orioles had a negative run differential until late summer. But actually, they are on pace to play more one-run games this season. They just happen to be higher-scoring one-run games in some cases.
It will probably take an unprecedented run of one-run victories from here on out for the Orioles to get a winning percentage close to the one they had in 2012 and show that they can sustain success from one 162-game season to the next.
Don’t bet on that happening, but if the Orioles can continue at their current pace or improve on it, they should be cool with that.