SARASOTA, FLA. — One of the perceptions about last year's Orioles team is that it was lacking in clutch hitting, even though the Orioles scored eight more runs than their 2014 American League East division-title season and batted .276 with runners in scoring position, the sixth-best mark in those situations in baseball and fourth-best in the AL.
Following Monday's workout, Orioles manager Buck Showalter tried to put that in perspective. The Orioles had the fewest plate opportunities with runners in scoring position (1,539), and they had the fourth-fewest strikeouts in those situations (281). The Orioles also had the fewest walks with runners in scoring position (123).
So even though the Orioles' batting average with runners in scoring position (.276) was comparatively good, they also manufactured fewer opportunities with runners in scoring position. By comparison, the Toronto Blue Jays had 1,629 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and Cubs had 1,626.
The Orioles hit 47 homers with runners in scoring position, which was the fifth most in baseball, but they scored only 476 runs with runners in scoring position, which ranked 19th out of 30 major league clubs.
The key is looking at the percentage of strikeouts the Orioles had with runners in scoring position. Some number crunching reveals that Orioles hitters struck out once every 4.82 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, which ranked 18th in baseball and 11th out of 15 teams in the AL.
By comparison, the defending world champion Kansas City Royals recorded one strikeout ever 7.23 plate appearances. The Blue Jays averaged a strikeout every 5.78 plate appearances.
So we now know even though the Orioles didn't create many situations with runners in scoring position, they also struck out too much in those appearances.
Showalter said he hopes to use some of those numbers to put the game in perspective at a team meeting Tuesday.
Orioles lineup for Tuesday's exhibition opener at Atlanta Braves:
2B Ryan Flaherty
3B Steve Tolleson
DH Jimmy Paredes
1B Christian Walker
LF Hyun Soo Kim
C Caleb Joseph
RF Henry Urrutia
CF Dariel Alvarez
SS Paul Janish
RHP Mike Wright
Hyun Soo Kim makes his Grapefruit League debut for the Orioles.