Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has been talking about one offensive statistic an awful lot lately: on-base percentage.
And in trying to make the Orioles competitive again, Duquette sees improving the team's on-base productivity as key to increasing run production.
Without going all sabermetric on you, his philosophy is pretty simple. The Orioles were fourth in the American League in home runs last year -- behind the Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox -- but just seventh of 14 AL teams in runs scored.
How do you improve on that? Improve on the Orioles' .313 team on-base percentage, which ranked 10th in the American League. For the record, the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Rangers were the top four teams in that category. Three of those four teams made the playoffs -- and we know what happened to Boston.
Now, it's not to say that if the Orioles dramatically improve their OBP, they can punch their ticket to the World Series or anything. But if you get more runners on base and continue your power production, you're hitting more three-run homers than solo homers, and you're scoring more runs.
The Orioles' offseason acquisitions probably don't wow you, and they aren't going to fill seats at Camden Yards this summer, but they do fall into Duquette's goal of improving the team's OBP. Here's a look at last year's Orioles and the top six OBP guys, the bottom five and the team's offseason acquisitions.
Notice that Nick Markakis is the only Orioles player with an on-base percentage higher than .340. Last season, the Red Sox (.349), Yankees (.343), Rangers (.340) and Tigers (.340) each had team on-base percentages of .340 or higher.
To play with the big boys, you've got to get on base like the big boys.
Regardless, it offers a little bit of insight as to what Duquette is thinking in terms of the position players he has chosen to acquire this offseason.
2011 Orioles top six OBP players (minimum 200 at bats)
Nick Markakis .351
Matt Wieters .328
Nolan Reimold .328
Robert Andino .327
Mark Reynolds .323
Adam Jones .319
2011 Orioles bottom five OBP Players (minimum 200 at bats)
Vladimir Guerrero .317 *
J.J. Hardy .310
Chris Davis .305
Derrek Lee .302 *
Luke Scott .301 *
Orioles offseason acquisitions (2011 stats)
Wilson Betemit .343
Endy Chavez .323
Taylor Teagarden .278
Matt Antonelli .385 ^
Jai Miller .368^
Ryan Flaherty .345 ^