As arbitrary mathematical endpoints go, game 32 of the major league season marks about one-fifth of the year gone by, and it's time to start thinking about what could be going better.
That's not to say that any statistics based on 100 at-bats should be validated, and that's actually the point. There are plenty of things that have happened that are due to be reversed just by virtue of batted-ball luck and players finding their career form after dipping far below it early in the season.
This edition of five stats that stand out highlights five regression candidates for the Orioles — good and bad — and which aspects of their performance just don't seem to be jibing with what's expected. [All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and MLB Statcast.]
6.8 – In last year's league-leading home run season, Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo had a 24.6 percent home run/fly ball rate. This year, it's down to 6.8 percent — almost one-third of last year's rate — which goes a long way to explain his power drought this year. It's not that simple, as according to FanGraphs, his hard-contact rate is down over 10 percent. And while he isn't near the top of the leaderboard this year, his 91.5 mph average exit velocity isn't that far down from last year's mark of 92.7 mph. So it's bound to even out to, if not his career HR/FB rate of 18.7 percent, then the league-average of 10 percent. That step forward would be a welcome one for Trumbo.
41.2 – On the flip side, there's no way Trey Mancini can reasonably keep hitting home runs at the rate he is. This year, 41.2 percent of his fly balls have been home runs. Last year's leader among qualifiers, Ryan Braun, settled at 28.8 percent. This year's leader is prolific New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge at 44.8 percent. We are in an unprecedented era of power, fueled by batted ball data telling hitters to put the ball in the air and swing hard while doing it, so maybe it's sustainable. But just as he has his entire minor league career — fair or unfair — Mancini might have to continue to do it before he shows himself able to sustain it.
.361 – First baseman Chris Davis might not outwardly look like he's overperforming, but his .361 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) indicates he's actually fortunate to be hitting .239 this season. The league-average BABIP typically settles around .300, and Davis, however volatile he can be from year to year, has a career mark of .315. But that leaves a good bit of come-down still for a player whose batting average can't afford to lose much padding at this point.
.250 – On the flip side of that, there's one Oriole whose batted ball data indicates he shouldn't be performing as poorly as he has been: shortstop J.J. Hardy. Not only is his .250 BABIP almost 30 points lower than his .277 career mark, but using Statcast data on expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) based on batted ball profile versus a player's actual wOBA, Hardy's wOBA should be 27 points higher as well. Hardy has found a lot of leather in the first part of the season, and you can't discount age in the equation, but if anyone is due for a bit of proverbial good luck at the plate it's him. Well, him and …
.222 – Definitely Manny Machado, too. His .222 BABIP would be by far the worst of his career, as he's averaging a .306 BABIP on his career and hasn't had a year below .293, which came in 2012, his rookie year. That Machado has still been an above-average offensive producer with such poor luck is a testament to his career-high walk rate (12.6 percent) and his team-leading eight home runs. But there's reason to believe it will get better overall. According to Statcast, his expected batting average based on his batted ball profile is .281, and his xwOBA is .390, as opposed to the misfortune-suppressed .338.