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TommyPickles

Changing tides in OPS and ERA

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The 2019 Orioles had a team OPS of .725. 

This was a big improvement from their .689 team OPS in 2018 and obviously part of the reason they won seven more games.

What's interesting is that OPS is up all around baseball.  In 2018, the average MLB OPS was .727.  In 2019, that jumped all the way up to .757.  In fact, that .757 OPS is the highest its been in MLB over the past 10 years.  You have to go all the way back to 2007 (when the average OPS was .758) to find a year that beats this one.

ERA has followed accordingly.  In 2018, the average ERA in MLB was 4.14.  In 2019, it shot up to 4.49.

So, is this evidence that balls were juiced this year?  Or are batters and their new launch angles just slipping ahead of pitchers in the never ending race to outsmart each another?

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It's the balls.   Look at what happened in AAA from 2018-2019 too.   And note that the same trends did not occur in AA.   What changed in AAA?  The balls.

So in 2018 our team OPS was 38 points below average?   And this year it was 32 points below average?     I suppose that is a degree of improvement.

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Another way to look at it:

In 2018 we were literally the worst run scoring offense in the AL.

This year we were 11th.   That is something.

In 2018 and 2019 we had the worst pitching staffs in the AL.    That is...........consistency!

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Yeah, it's hard to know how to legitimize some of these offensive numbers.  Look at Mancini's 35th HR.  That ball came off the bat like it should've been a lazy fly ball, and it carried out.  Don't get me wrong, he had plenty of other legit HRs, but #'s across the board are definitely inflated.

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The Orioles were 21st in OPS+, with a 91.  They were 22nd in wOBA.  I'm very confident that their offensive performance was below average but not awful.

On (pitching+defense) they were just a hair above the Pirates in ERA+, at 84.    They were 30th in ERA-, at 121, just behind the Pirates.  Breaking that down into pitching and defense... they were a distant 30th in both FIP and xFIP.  That tends to indicate that most of the blame was with the pitching staff.  

But on the fielding side they were 29th in UZR, and 28th in Fangraphs' defensive runs.  Frangraphs breaks that down into -18 (worst in baseball) in Arm, -16 in errors, +5.8 in turning double plays, and -2 in range.  

So, to sum up... bad but not horrific offensively, pretty horrific pitching, and clearly below average defense.  Which is kind of what I'd expect out of a team that just missed allowing 1000 runs for the first time since the franchise moved to Baltimore 65 years ago.

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8 minutes ago, esmd said:

Yeah, it's hard to know how to legitimize some of these offensive numbers.  Look at Mancini's 35th HR.  That ball came off the bat like it should've been a lazy fly ball, and it carried out.  Don't get me wrong, he had plenty of other legit HRs, but #'s across the board are definitely inflated.

Almost nothing is meaningful without context.  Clearly the ball and other effects have caused offenses to surge across the board.  What concerns me is the non-linearity of any fixes.  You can't just assume the Orioles would be 21st in offense in a league where the ball is 20% deader.  It could be that the Orioles' hitters are less impacted than an average team and they're relatively better in such a situation. Or the other way around.

If I were the Twins I'd certainly be lobbying hard to keep the super balls as long as possible, because you never know what the impact of change is going to be on their newly historic hitters.

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From the hitting side, there were improvements in every category, although some much larger than others.  As a team, OPS+ was 91, slightly better than the 89 posted in 2018. 
YR                       R    HR    AVG     OBP       SLG      OPS
2019               729   213   0.246   0.310    0.415    0.725
2018               622   188  0.239    0.298    0.391    0.689
2019-2018    107      25  0.007    0.012    0.024    0.036

For perspective, here's how those numbers stacked up against the rest of the league

YR          R    HR    AVG   OBP  SLG  OPS
2019    11    12    12       12     12     13
2018    15      9    15       15     14     14

Last year, Machado led the team in HR (24) and RBI (65) even though he was gone after July.   This year, Mancini, Nunez, and Villar all beat Manny's 2018 counting numbers (Villar tied him in HR).  Trey's 135 OPS+ (14th in the league) was by far the team leader.  Mancini's 35 HRs placed him 11th in the league, and 97 RBIs were good for 12th.  Like Manny in 2018, Alberto was the only hitter on the team to surpass .300.   Only 10 batters in the league hit .300 or better, with Alberto 8th in the league in BA.

Pitching, the biggest change was the decline of the bullpen.  Only LAA's rotation was worse, while, the O's bullpen was dead last in ERA, 0.58 above 14th place KC.
YR                 Total    SP      BP
2019              5.59    5.57    5.63
2018              5.18    5.48    4.78
2019-2018    0.41    0.09    0.85

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38 minutes ago, DrungoHazewood said:

If I were the Twins I'd certainly be lobbying hard to keep the super balls as long as possible, because you never know what the impact of change is going to be on their newly historic hitters.

Minnesota's RS went up 27.4%. Their HR shot up 85.0%; even in a year where 3 teams broke the previous HR record, that's plain nuts.

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47 minutes ago, TonySoprano said:

From the hitting side, there were improvements in every category, although some much larger than others.  As a team, OPS+ was 91, slightly better than the 89 posted in 2018. 
YR                       R    HR    AVG     OBP       SLG      OPS
2019               729   213   0.246   0.310    0.415    0.725
2018               622   188  0.239    0.298    0.391    0.689
2019-2018    107      25  0.007    0.012    0.024    0.036

For perspective, here's how those numbers stacked up against the rest of the league

YR          R    HR    AVG   OBP  SLG  OPS
2019    11    12    12       12     12     13
2018    15      9    15       15     14     14

Last year, Machado led the team in HR (24) and RBI (65) even though he was gone after July.   This year, Mancini, Nunez, and Villar all beat Manny's 2018 counting numbers (Villar tied him in HR).  Trey's 135 OPS+ (14th in the league) was by far the team leader.  Mancini's 35 HRs placed him 11th in the league, and 97 RBIs were good for 12th.  Like Manny in 2018, Alberto was the only hitter on the team to surpass .300.   Only 10 batters in the league hit .300 or better, with Alberto 8th in the league in BA.

Pitching, the biggest change was the decline of the bullpen.  Only LAA's rotation was worse, while, the O's bullpen was dead last in ERA, 0.58 above 14th place KC.
YR                 Total    SP      BP
2019              5.59    5.57    5.63
2018              5.18    5.48    4.78
2019-2018    0.41    0.09    0.85

Nice.  Couple other interesting tidbits:

Walks:

2019: 12 (+40)

2018: 15

 

Strikeouts:

2019: 8 (+23 in a higher K environment)

2018: 12

 

The offense made some nice strides this year away from the Duquette/Showalter "swing for the streets" mentality. Still a long way to go, but it's an improvement, our best BB ranking since 2012 and our best K ranking since 2013. We also ranked 6th in the AL in stolen bases, something we haven't done since leading the league (!) in 2007. 

Overall, we were just better at scoring a competitive number of runs this year. The times we scored 3 or fewer runs:

2019: 69 (8 shutouts)

2018: 93 (15)

(2014: 72 / 11)

 

There's no secret for this club.  It needs to improve its pitching dramatically, and secondarily, improve the defense. We had a very good year in the minors with pitching, which is encouraging. I definitely think, despite another awful W-L year, the franchise is not in horrible shape going forward.

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