In the 10 months or so that executive vice president Dan Duquette has been on the job, there's been a couple areas he has stressed more than anything else.
One is that he wanted to discover undervalued assets. Acquire players that can help the team win but weren't getting an opportunity for one reason or another.
Consider that goal met with the contributions of Nate McLouth, Lew Ford, Miguel Gonzalez and Randy Wolf, among others.
His other talking point for much of his brief tenure has been the need to find hitters who can get on base at a high clip. Duquette is an unabashed on-base percentage chaser, no question.
Well, the Orioles are pretty much where they have been in that category for much of the past decade: lingering near the bottom. Heading into tonight in Seattle, the Orioles have a .313 ob-base percentage, 11th of 14 teams in the American League.
They have just two regulars with an OBP higher than a respectable .350: the injured Nick Markakis (.363 in 104 games) and Mark Reynolds (.353 in 120 games). McLouth is close at .348 in 40 games and Jim Thome, an on-base machine in his splendid career, had a .354 mark in 18 games with the Orioles before his neck injury.
Duquette's premise that you have to get on base to score is certainly valid. But apparently you don't have to get on base to win – so long as you have the pitching.
Consider that the following playoff contenders, besides the Orioles, are all in the bottom half of OBP: Chicago White Sox, 9th; Tampa Bay Rays, 10th, Oakland A's 12th. The Rays rank first in ERA and the A's second. The Orioles are eighth in ERA and the White Sox are ninth.
But the Orioles and White Sox have one other ingredient that can offset poor OBP numbers and average ERAs.
Chicago is second in the AL in home runs hit and the Orioles are third. So we'll amend Duquette's philosophy a tad. You can't score if you don't get on base -- unless you hit the ball so far the other team can't catch it.
Look for Duquette to build the club's OBP next year. But he's probably fine with the current hybrid right now.