Here is a simple game. Let’s look at the current production of the O’s everyday lineup and rotation, to determine if we think their play will stay the same, regress, or improve during the remainder of 2011.
Matt Wieters: I think he’s likely to finish with an OPS around .775, and while that would be a regression from his current .789, that is basically irrelevant. As such, I say ‘Same.’
Derrek Lee: He has played in each of the first 20 games, and his OPS is under .600. In his last 39 games of 2010, he posted a .849 OPS with Atlanta. I think he finishes with an OPS around .750. So ‘Better.’
Brian Roberts: Roberts is currently slugging above his career average, and that will probably regress. At the same time his on-base % is significantly below his career average, and that will improve. Overall, I say ‘Same.’
JJ Hardy: The question here is, when Hardy returns, do you expect his production to exceed what you have received from Andino/Izturis over the past 14 games? Andino has played pretty well overall, but even with his .310 batting average, still has just a .685 OPS because all 9 of his hits have been singles. Expect more pop from Hardy, and his defense is better than Andino (and possibly Izturis) as well. ‘Better.’
Mark Reynolds: After his 2nd HR of the year yesterday, Reynolds has a .606 OPS. His career OPS is .810. He’s a career .240 hitter batting .179. He has a career Slugging % of .479; currently it is .343. There will be a major increase of production from Reynolds. ‘Better.’
Nick Markakis: Through 77 ab’s, Markakis has a .208 average, and a .591 OPS. Even if he does not reach his 2008 numbers, is there anyone, anywhere, that believes Markakis will not finish 2011 with numbers approximating his ‘09 and ‘10 production? ‘Better.’
Adam Jones: Jones currently has a .414 Slugging %, vs. .426 for his career. Unlikely to see a dramatic change there. He’s a career .272 hitter who is batting just .229 as of now. That’s impacting his on-base %. OPS is at .681 vs. .743 for his career. Average is likely to increase. ‘Better.’
Luke Scott: Scott missed 5 of the first 20 games, but missed time is to be expected with Scott. He has a career .853 OPS (including .903 last year), and has just a .652 mark this year. Again, is there anyone who doesn’t believe he will approximate his career averages? ‘Better.’
Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero had a .841 OPS in 2010, but was just .748 in the second half (though it was .888 in September). Through 83 ab’s, his OPS is currently .663 and he has zero walks. Let’s say his on-base % finishes around .300. For him to help this lineup, he needs to slug at a .450 level and above. I think that happens. ‘Better.’
Brian Matusz: When healthy, he’s going to be a productive starter regardless. Adding him at the front of the rotation gives additional depth to the team as a whole, and limits the wear and tear on the bullpen. Essentially he would be replacing Tillman or Bergesen in the rotation. You have to think that is an improvement. Just how good Matusz is this year is a huge wild card for the team. ‘Better.’
Jeremy Guthrie: ERA is overrated, but I’d expect Guthrie’s ERA to increase closer to his career mark of 4.12 vs the current 3.12. He will remain a productive starter, but I’ll say ‘Regress.’
Jake Arrieta: Has made 5 starts, with 4 of them being 6 innings with 3 er or less. I honestly think his production will be raised further, but at a minimum I do think he will maintain his current numbers, so ‘Same.’
Zach Britton: Britton will go through plenty of adjustments during his rookie season, but most times out he is going to give the O’s a chance to win. I like that he has already proven he can be effective without his best stuff. I think there is plenty of reason to expect more, but I’ll say ‘Same.’
Brad Bergesen / Chris Tillman: Combined these two are 0-5. Bergesen’s current numbers are pretty similar to what he profiles as, a 4th or 5th starter in the American League. If anything, his numbers should only improve a bit. Some of Tillman’s peripheral numbers are pretty good. To me, his four starts have been pretty indicative of what we are likely to continue to see from him this year. Occasional competitive outings, coupled with outings that quickly take you out of games. If he gets 30 starts, I think his numbers will be league average for a 5th starter. Again, I think you can make a good case that either or both raise their game. I think it is harder to argue that either or both regress further. I’ll say ‘Same.’
The offense has collectively underachieved so far. Unless you do not believe in historical performance, there is no reason to believe that the offense will not drastically improve. When Matusz returns this rotation is going to regularly give the O’s a chance to win. I’m looking forward to the remainder of this year, and I do believe in the talent that is on this roster.
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Lifelong. Down by the river.
Lifelong. Down by the river.