Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Orioles.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about last season’s magical run to the playoffs was that the Orioles did it with a revolving door to their clubhouse. According to ESPN, the Orioles made 178 roster moves, used 52 different players and trotted out 122 different lineups in 162 games. They probably had to distribute gameday programs in the clubhouse, too, just so everyone could put names to faces. Remember this when the Opening Day roster is revealed in a few weeks. Knowing the O’s, those 25 guys won’t be together for long.
Oft-injured second baseman Brian Roberts has been one of the pleasant surprises of the spring so far. In 13 at-bats in five Grapefruit League games, Roberts has four singles, two doubles, a home run and a walk. He is batting .538 with an on-base percentage of .571. If Roberts is healthy and winning at-bats like this when the season starts, it will be a boost for an Orioles club that struggled to get on base last season. Mark Reynolds led qualifying Orioles last year with a .335 on-base percentage, which ranked 70th in the major leagues. (Nick Markakis and his .363 OBP did not qualify.) A return to form from Roberts would really help.
4.5 -- Manny Machado’s Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) at third base.
Wunderkind Manny Machado spent most of his amateur and minor-league career at shortstop, but he was a plus defender at third base when the Orioles recalled him in the second half of the 2012 season. According to FanGraphs, Machado had an Ultimate Zone Rating, a statistic that essentially quantifies how many runs a player saved or gave up in the field, of 4.5 in 51 games, which was the team's second-highest UZR behind shortstop J.J. Hardy. Machado’s UZR was significantly better than the other two Orioles who played more than 100 innings at third base, Mark Reynolds and Wilson Betemit, who both had ratings below negative-five.
15 -- Number of the Orioles' first 40 games that are at Camden Yards.
We will learn at least a little bit about the Orioles in the first six weeks of the season. Three of their first four series are on the road against American League East rivals in Tampa Bay, Boston and New York. Then, after a challenging nine-game homestand, they will head out to the West Coast to play Oakland and Seattle. Plus they will only get two off days in the first 34 days of the season to sleep off the jetlag. But if the Orioles can hang tough early on the road -- they were 46-35 away from Camden Yards a season ago -- the schedule eases up on them in early May.
4.05 -- Jake Arrieta’s Fielding Independent Pitching rating in 2012.
After winning a career-high 10 games in 2011, Jake Arrieta took a step back in 2012. He went 3-9 with a 6.20 earned run average, spent some time in the minor leagues and finished the season in the Orioles bullpen. His 3.11 strikeout-per-walk rate was easily the best of his career, but he allowed an average of 1.26 home runs per nine innings pitched. But based on Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), a stat that projects how a pitcher should perform by eliminating fielding and the randomness of where balls are hit, Arrieta ranked better than Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen. That number gives hope that Arrieta might bounce back in 2013.
Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.