This is as good a time as any to trot out that most famous quotation from 19th century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli:
“There are three kinds of lies…lies, damned lies and statistics.”
Never has that tried and true adage been more relevant than in any examination of why the Orioles are tied for first place with the big, bad Yankees in the American League East. If you go by the numbers, their amazing season can’t be happening.
Just the facts: The Orioles are ranked 21st in the major leagues with a .247 team batting average. They rank 21st in hits, 17th in runs and their scoring differential (-19) is the only one with a negative sign in front of it of any team with a winning record. The pitching staff is a little higher up the rankings, but still ranks 16th in ERA and has allowed more runs than all but 10 other teams. And, of course, they rank last in the American League in fielding percentage.
Based purely on those numbers, the Orioles should be at least 10 games under .500, but they are a season-high 17 games above sea level going into tonight’s final game of the three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Of course, the statistics everyone points to explain all this are their terrific record in one-run games (24-7) and extra-inning games (12-2), which probably reveals the most obvious reason why this team is where it is. Buck Showalter has done an unbelieveable job of assimilating a large number of players into a winning formula, though he tried to claim the other day that he has just been very lucky.
Yeah, right. He had the same kind of “luck” in his second full season with each of the three other major league teams he managed.