Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pic of the Week

Baltimore's Nate McLouth is carried by teammate Chris
Davis after McLouth's single drove home the game-winner
in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday.

The Baltimore Orioles aren't supposed to be here, neck and neck with the mighty Yankees at the top of the AL East.

Nate McLouth and Lew Ford aren't supposed to be playing major roles on a pennant contender either, but there they are.

The O's entered Saturday's play having scored 625 runs — and having allowed 646. Being outscored on the season by such a margin means they should be below .500.

But they are outplaying their Pythagorean record by 11 games.

They've done this by somehow winning 13 straight extra-inning games. They've done this by going 27-8 in one run games, while falling short of .500 (22-23) in blowouts. This is exactly the opposite of what truly good teams do. The good teams blow opponents away and take more of their losses in close games —win easy, lose hard. The O's are doing it backwards, and making it work.

Sabermetrically, the Orioles' season is impossible. But there it is.

This is a concept that I intend to someday be organized enough to expound upon: There are two kinds of statistics, "results" stats and "process" stats. Result stats tell us what happened; process stats tell us how it happened.

They both matter, but in different ways. The Orioles have piled up 81 wins, and at this point appear destined for the postseason. Those are real wins, and the Orioles don't, and shouldn't, care how they got those wins.

The sabermetric stuff that says they aren't that good — that matters too, in the context of the future and player evaluation. If Baltimore wins the AL East — and I certainly hope they do, because that means the Yankees won't — management should be savvy enough to recognize that the same formula is not going to work in 2013. 

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