clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How the Royals can Beat the Orioles

New, 15 comments

Breaking down the Orioles strengths and weaknesses

Patrick Smith

Hey, it's worked twice before and each time has been more important than the last. Let's keep this train a'rollin. While I don't take credit for the Royals winning, I can at least have dream that they read my articles. So Dayton, Ned, et all, here's how to beat the Orioles!

What they are good at

Position Players:

Okay that's vague. The Orioles share some similar traits as the Angels. They are offensively one of the best hitting teams in baseball with a 105 wRC+ (8th overall). They lead the league in home runs and are top 10 in RBI (gross), slugging, and wOBA. They have four players with 20+ home runs as well as the MLB home run champ in Nelson Cruz. Needless to say they can turn a one run inning into a four or five run inning pretty quick (see the 8th inning of their game against Detroit last week).

They are also great in high leverage situations. They rank 1st in baseball with a 121 wRC+ in high leverage situations.

Defense:

Much like KC, Baltimore are a very good defensive unit. They've relied primarily on the backs of JJ Hardy, Caleb Joseph, and Adam Jones, all 10+ run defenders. That's a pretty good unit to have "up the middle."

Bullpen:

Hey, has anyone noticed this before!? It's almost like the Royals and Baltimore are kinda similar teams. Both have strong bullpens and defense. They are more so a collection of good relievers rather than one or two individual stars as their best reliever Zach Britton ranks outside the top 30 in reliever fWAR (although he's 6th in RE24 and 5th in WPA/LI). What the Orioles bullpen does best is preventing runs from scoring (that's obvious), but they don't it in any flashy way. Nobody in the bullpen has any gaudy strikeout rates except for newly acquired Andrew Miller and none of them have bad walk rates. They simply just get hitters out and it's shown in their 3rd best league BABIP of .274.

Cut Fastballs vs righties:

Player AVG SLG ISO Whiff%
Markakis 0.240 0.280 0.040 15.56%
De Aza 0.200 0.300 0.100 23.19%
Jones 0.275 0.400 0.125 27.06%
Cruz 0.308 0.641 0.333 30.26%
Pearce 0.286 0.619 0.056 22.22%
Hardy 0.273 0.303 0.030 16.07%
Flaherty 0.250 0.250 0.000 24.00%
Joseph 0.000 0.000 0.000 62.50%
Schoop 0.133 0.133 0.000 19.44%

They pound righties when they toss cut fastballs to them this year. Multiple guys with .270+ average against them with a couple .600+ slugging. Shields, Guthrie, and Davis all have a prominent cutter while Ventura will occasionally mix in one.

What they aren't good at

Baserunning:

Unlike our home town hero's, the Orioles are one of the leagues worst base running units at -5.6 BsR good for 26th overall in the league. They are also dead last in steals and stolen base attempts. They are also conservative on the basepaths. They rank 29th overall in bases taken from a sac fly/wild pitch/passed ball and 25th in scoring from second on a single.

Plate Discipline:

It's hard for the Royals to be critical of another teams plate discipline, but I'm happy to say that the Orioles chase more pitches outside the zone than the Royals do (even with Sal Perez).

Stat % Rank
O-Swing% 34% 26th
Z-Swing% 67.3 9th
Swing% 48.80% 25th
O-Contact% 63.60% 24th
Z-Contact% 86.10% 27th
Contact% 77.40% 26th
F-Strike% 61.60% 2nd
SwStrk% 10.80% 26th

The Orioles are a team that has contact issues. Like the Royals they swing at a lot of outside pitches yet unlike the Royals they don't make contact. Even when the ball is in the zone they don't make much contact. This makes sense given their power department as perhaps they are selling out for home runs and when they strike out, they strike out swinging.

The Orioles have seen 23,329 pitches this year and have swung and missed at an outside pitch (zones 11, 12, 13, and 14) 1480 times (6.34%) good for the 3rd worst rate in the league.

Curveballs:

Curveballs are a pitch that seem to boggle the Orioles. They are the sixth worst team by curveball per 100 pitches (the Royals are fifth worst). Their batting average against curveballs on the year is .209 but they've got a .335 slugging percentage (9th best).

Player AVG SLG ISO Whiff%
Markakis 0.253 0.481 0.228 6.30%
De Aza 0.180 0.230 0.049 33.04%
Jones 0.276 0.316 0.040 34.93%
Cruz 0.185 0.352 0.167 39.56%
Pearce 0.133 0.167 0.033 41.38%
Hardy 0.200 0.240 0.040 42.31%
Flaherty 0.240 0.440 0.200 46.34%
Joseph 0.143 0.333 0.191 20.51%
Schoop 0.159 0.318 0.159 35.04%

Markakis hits the curve pretty well, but most other guys seem to sell out for power against it. 35%+ whiff rates with a low average but high slugging.  As long as these guys aren't hitting your curveball over the fence then the curve can be a weapon against them (which I guess you can say for any pitch...).

Starting Rotation:

Their rotation is more so just okay than bad. They sport a 3.61 ERA, 4.18 FIP, and 4.12 xFIP which dampens their home runs slightly. The rotation is 24th in BB/9 and 23rd in K/9. Much like their bullpen, they carry a few good starters without having any ace or great pitcher. It's more so a collection of #3's than a definitive #1/2/3 or so rotation. They pitched better at home (3.82 FIP) than away (4.11 FIP).

Their rotation also allows a high amount of contact.

Stat % Rank
O-Swing% 28.9% 29th
Z-Swing% 67.3% 29th
Swing% 46.1% 18th
O-Contact% 71.0% 29th
Z-Contact% 89.7% 27th
Contact% 83.2% 30th
F-Strike% 59.1% 28th
SwStrk% 7.6% 29th

They rank in the bottom five of most categories you don't want to be at the bottom five in. They allow the most contact in all of baseball, generate the 2nd lowest outside swing rate, the 2nd high zone swing rate, while have the 2nd worst swinging strike rate. They've gotten by this season with a 6th best league BABIP of .284. Their defense is a big part in that BABIP suppression since they allow a lot of contact but the contact is turning into outs (which is good).

As mentioned earlier, the Royals are a high contact team, possibly an elite contact team, and they are going against a rotation who's possibly elite in allowing contact (the bad way).

Also the Royals just need to keep hitting in Baltimore as they've done.

At Camden:

Player Career Triple Slash HR
Perez .281/.314/.531 0
Hosmer .250/.304/.328 1
Infante .290/.351/.522 3
Escobar .213/.230/.491 0
Moustakas .217/.250/.457 3
Gordon .294/.345/.578 8
Cain .182/.280/.182 0
Aoki .400/.400/.400 0
Butler .318/.371/.561 6
Team 2014 .304/.357/.391 1
Team vs Balt 2014 .257/.307/.336 3

Look at those power bats...