It’s September 4th, and the Orioles find themselves one game out of first place in the American League East. That statement, on it’s own, isn’t too ridiculous. It’s when you start looking at the stats that make that statement look ridiculous.
The Orioles are not a good baseball team according to the stats. In fact, if you were to look at the league statistical rankings, before looking at the standings, you would think they stink. They’re currently in the bottom half of teams for offense and defense, and the pitching is in the middle of the pack. It begs fans to question how this team is winning ball games.
I decided to look further into this anomaly, so I skipped over to fangraphs.com to see if there was some sort of statistic that could explain why the Orioles were winning so many games this year. I found a statistic that, according to the sabremetric community, is supposed to provide the the most complete, and overall best analysis of both a player and the team. That statistic is Wins Above Replacement (WAR). I’m not going to go into detail about what WAR is, but if you would like an explanation of this statistical category, click here .
Finally, I thought to myself, I will find the answer I am looking for as to why the Orioles are playing so well this year. Their WAR must be off the charts, and that will explain everything. Boy was I wrong. Very, very wrong. The Orioles WAR isn’t just bad, it ranks in the bottom of the league. The only two teams with lower WAR, are the Cleveland Indians, and Houston Astros. So now the Orioles have not only defied our traditional baseball statistics, but also flipped the bird (no pun intended) to the sabermetric community.
What are we going to do about the Orioles? They’re defying baseball logic! They’re like Maximus Decimus Meridius defying the emperor in Gladiator. Something has to be done!
The Baltimore Orioles have their eyes set on the post-season. Statistics are supposed to give us a glimpse into why a team is successful or not. The Orioles laugh at that notion. Throw statistics out the window in the case of the 2012 Baltimore Orioles, they are irrelevant. However, the odds are that those statistics will catch up to them, most likely in the post-season, when playing against a superior opponent. With everything at stake, the post-season is generally the place where fairy tales end. The post-season is usually where these unlikely teams’ weaknesses get exposed. Then the baseball traditionalists smile and say I told you so.
The Orioles have the great baseball minds scratching their heads. They have fans of other MLB teams jealous that the Orioles are doing something that their team can’t – win. And the Orioles are throwing their hands up shouting are you not entertained?! Yes Baltimore, very entertaining. The baseball gods are smiling on you. There is no explanation for what the Orioles are doing this year except that’s baseball for you. The inexplicable things that happen are what makes this game great. We try to make sense of it all with statistics, but there are situations when not even statistics can help. That is the case with the 2012 Baltimore Orioles. And with the playoffs right around the corner, they better make a call to Jeffrey Maier and see if he’s available.