Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Orioles

Monday night I made my first and what will be my only trip to Camden Yards this year to catch the Sox playing the Orioles. I've been making an annual trip or trips to Camden Yards each year since I moved to DC in the Summer of 2002. To say that things have "changed" there post 2004 would be a massive understatement.

Look, since I have been going there the Sox fans have always out-numbered the Orioles fans. But not until post-2004 did that become THE road venue to visit for for Red Sox fans and not coincidentally become an absolute haven for every single out-of-town bandwagon fan and people that give fans of the Red Sox an absolutely horrible name. It has actually gotten so bad down there and I had become so embarrassed to be lumped in with the majority of the Sox fans at those games that I made a mini-pledge to myself that I was taking a year off from going there.

Obviously, I broke that pledge but as you may imagine, a Monday crowd would figure to be a bit more easy-going than a weekend one. This actually was the case which was nice. It was not docile by any means and the Red Sox fans were being vocal but in a harmless way. Plus the yahoo factor was greatly diminished which loosely translates to no "die-hard" fans quizzing other Sox fans in the audience on who the starting pitcher for the Yankees is that day or a person calling for a bunt by Ortiz with two on and no out in the first inning. And in case you couldn't tell, those were both examples of people in my section at a Saturday game there last year. I'm telling you, the vast majority of Red Sox fans I have met at Camden Yards have made me hang my head in shame and my face turn red with embarrassment for walking around in Sox gear.

Anyway, none of that on Monday as despite what Baltimore writers would have you believe, all of the obnoxious fans in my section were Baltimore people. Let's see, you had the fat mother and her teenage son sitting behind us who would not shutup with inane comments which ran throughout the entire game as the mother both vocally ("I paid for it so I better drink it" and "I guess I just need to drink quicker which is okay") and physically got shitfaced. And then you had the group of about 8 sitting in front of us who got up about twice an inning to go to the concession stands (no exaggeration) and left in the 7th inning of a 2-1 game. Again, Baltimore folks both of them so let's not just assume that every single a-hole fan at a Sox-Orioles game in Baltimore is a Boston person.

Enough ranting about the crowd, what I really want to do here is enlighten you on a fact which you may or may not know - and if you don't do fantasy then you probably don't - that the Orioles have an absolutely outstanding offense. Even moving beyond the fact that they lead the AL in runs scored since the All Star break, the true talent of their offense lies in the guys who right now are hitting 1-4 respectively in their order. Consider this:

The average stats for Orioles 1-4 hitters (Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff) are:

.297 Avg / .371 OBP / 18 HR / 74 RBI / 80 RS / 58 XBH

The individual stats are pretty nice too:

Roberts - .295 Avg / .378 OBP / 8 HR / 43 RBI / 87 RS / 30 SB / 61 XBH

Markakis - .303 Avg / .403 OBP / 17 HR / 76 RBI / 88 RS / 10 SB / 57 XBH

Mora - .284 Avg / .342 OBP / 20 HR / 91 RBI / 67 RS / 49 XBH

Huff - .304 Avg / .364 OBP / 27 HR / 87 RBI / 80 RS / 66 XBH

Compare that to the Red Sox now.

Granted, the Sox do not have a set top 4 like the Orioles thanks to injuries and trades. However if you add up the total at-bats from the Red Sox top 5 players this year (Pedroia, Youkilis, Drew, Manny, and Papi) you get just a bit more at bats - 1,966 for the Sox versus 1,883 for the O's a difference of 83 ABs, a big but not massive difference and suitable for our purposes here to compare the Sox top 5 to the Orioles top 4. Let's see how it pans out:

The average stats for the Sox aforementioned top 5:

.300 Avg / .379 OBP / 18 HR / 67 RBI / 73 RS / 47 XBH

Now the average stats if you neutralize the numbers to reflect roughly the same amounts of at-bats per team:

.300 Avg / .379 OBP / 21 HR / 79 RBI / 85 RS / 55 XBH

The individual stats:

Youkilis - .317 Avg / .386 OBP / 23 HR / 84 RBI / 78 RS / 60 XBH

Pedroia - .320 Avg / .364 OBP / 12 HR / 58 RBI / 92 RS / 12 SB / 52 XBH

Drew - .280 Avg / .408 OBP / 19 HR / 64 RBI / 78 RS / 46 XBH

Ortiz - .265 Avg / .330 OBP / 17 HR / 63 RBI / 51 RS / 33 XBH

Manny - .299 Avg / .398 OBP / 20 HR / 68 RBI / 66 RS / 43 XBH

So what does this all mean? First off, the top four of the Orioles lineup is really good. But I already told you that. Secondly, that it took the five best Red Sox hitters from Day One this season to match what the four best Orioles hitters have done. In short, we like to always think that our top guys are at or near the best, and while this has been the case before we should at least acknowledge that this year the top of the Orioles lineup has been outstanding and just as good if not better than the guys that our team has trotted out there.

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