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July 7, 2010

A closer look at the Orioles' RISP woes

By request after the Orioles' abysmal 3-for-17 performance with runners in scoring position in Tuesday night's 7-5, 11-inning loss to the Detroit Tigers, let's break down a factor that has repeatedly doomed the Orioles this season. Here's an individual look at the RISP averages for the mainstays in the Orioles' lineup this season (from highest to lowest):

Nick Markakis, RF: .338
Corey Patterson, LF: .323
Adam Jones, CF: .253
Julio Lugo, 2B: .250
Craig Tatum, C: .250
Cesar Izturis, SS: .245
Ty Wigginton, 1B: .235
Miguel Tejada, 3B: .235
Scott Moore, IF: .231
Matt Wieters, C: .227
Luke Scott, DH: .133

It should come as no surprise that, Markakis and Patterson aside, it's hard to look at the RISP averages for any of these players and consider them respectable. And it's difficult to imagine that any of those hitters strikes fear into an opposing pitcher's heart when he comes to the plate with men on second and/or third.

Even more concerning are the RISP averages for some of the players who play the conventional "power" positions: .235 for Tejada at third base; .235 for Wigginton, the Orioles' All-Star representative, at first base; and a mind-boggling .133 for their usual DH, Scott. (Scott's average dips to .038 with runners in scoring position and two outs, by the way.)

As a team, the Orioles are last in the majors with a RISP average of .232, five points lower than the Toronto Blue Jays'. By contrast, the Cincinnati Reds lead the majors with a RISP average of .288, 56 points higher than the Orioles' number. The median team RISP average is .263, more than 30 points higher than the Orioles'.

So, as Dan Connolly pointed out in an earlier post, while there is bound to be plenty of vitriol reserved for the Orioles' bullpen and perhaps interim manager Juan Samuel's late-game decisions regarding his relievers, the Orioles' most telling -- and damning -- shortcoming this season certainly appears to be their continued failure to knock in runs with men in scoring position.

Posted by Steve Gould at 7:00 AM | | Comments (14)


There’s the old adage in sports that you can’t teach speed. Well, watching Jones’s play tonight in CF, apparently you can’t teach baseball common sense either. Angry and disbelieving as I am that it’s taken half the season for a “manager” to get this “All-Star” to play where he’s supposed to play, I’m even more amazed with his play in the 8th inning that turned a single on a slow-moving Cabrera into a triple. The lead was 4-1. There was NO reason to try for some acrobatic catch and risk an extra-base hit or more. No more than it makes sense for the trailing offensive team to try and stretch a single into a double with the score lopsided in the last inning (we’ve If it made no diference in this game, it will certainly make a difference in the future if it contimnuesdone that too). And please don’t tell me about a player’s natural aggressiveness.

The only more amazing thing PERHAPS is that neither TV announcer tonight had comment one about this bonehead play. Palmer probably would have. Will Samuel?

Don’t care how fast Jones is. Don’t care how many occasional decent plays he makes. Don’t even care (make that “sort of don’t care” )about the ridiculous bubble blowing in the midst of trying to play defense. Can someone simply try and teach Bazooka Boy some baseball basics. Anyone? Blair? Markakis? Bueller? Bueller?

RISP is one part luck and the other part patience at the plate. We have guys who routinely swing at the first pitch and balls outside the zone. The numbers are there to back me up but whats the point of looking it up? We only ever sign Ex-Cubs and has beens.

While Jones takes risks -- and often fails -- I wondered where Pie was on those plays. Fundamental baseball includes backing up other outfielders. Yet. on both 8th inning triples, Pie was nowhere to be seen. I know it was his first game back but every coach will tell you that you have to back up your teammates. This seems especially crucial with someone like Jones, whose gung-ho tendencies sometimes overrule his judgement on batted balls. Then again, if he had been playing farther in (instead of deeper, as instructed by Samuel / Shelby) he would have caught Cabrera's liner...

Yes, we are last in the majors with an RISP average of .232...which represents the quality of the players that we have on our team. Only one or two players may be able to start for another team. The fact that we do not have quality players with experience is a result of THE PLAN that ownership and management has taken to rebuild our team. We spend $4.5 million on a player with the hope that he will resurrect his career and find himself again. What a crap shoot that is! We also promote our young promising players and pay them the minimum salary while announcing to the world that they are a future Hall of Famer. We raise everyone's expectations before the season begins and later wonder what went wrong with THE PLAN. I have one question to ask Mr. Angelos and Mr. McPhail. How committed are you to building a winning team? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to bring in experienced quality players that know how to win...or are you going to continue your band-aid approach of gambling, praying, and wishful thinking?

As I looked at the rosters for Detroit and the Orioles, it hit me that Tigers are superior at every position and on the bench. Our guys can play at their highest level and do not really have a chance. That sums up the whole season.

I cannot understand how the person that assembled this mess, Andy Macfail, can speak of progress or a plan. if that plan is to get worse every year it has worked.

I think Andy will be here until he takes Bud Seilg's job. He will leave us with a product that is the worst team in baseball. He has a penchant for these results.

I am sure the Orioles do not have a player with enough talent to sit on the bench for the Tigers.

We saw a rookie Tiger hitter with big numbers and look at our second year hitters who cannot hit in the minor leagues. How does this team pick and promote so many losers with little or no major league talent.

The Crow Must Go. If he can't get people to change the approach at the plate , well then he is not seeing what every fan has noticed.

I just dont see how any of this comes as a surprise to anyone.

The Orioles dont manufacture or move runners or take extra bases or run and hit or any of the other things that teams do to NOT be so dependent on 'clutch hitting' and collectively as a team they can't hit so why should it matter when guys are on base?

At least they are consistent.

Can someone publish some stats on where the O's rank in terms of first-pitch swings? It seems like we do it so much more often than other teams and it drives me crazy.

Last night was the worst ever in terms of hitting with RISP! How do you get 17 hits (including a homer, triple, and double) and 6 walks and drive in only 5 runs!!! That is actually hard to do, requiring serious effort at untimely hitting. But we have major-league leading rally killers all up and down the line-up.

Markakis said it a couple weeks ago. Most of the guys on this club DON'T HAVE A FRIGGIN' CLUE when they go up to the plate.

You hear stories about how a Ted Williams and a Tony Gymn would analyze every at-bat and would go up to the plate with a plan and an idea what the pitcher will probably be throwing him and the location.

The Oriole batters may know how to swing a bat, but they don't seem to know how to be a professional hitter.

One would think there is a former professional major leaguer available who could be added to the staff that could just talk the science/art of hitting.

It's apparent that if Terry Crowley is teaching situational hitting or how to become a profession hitter, he isn't getting through. How about a fresh start with someone else?

That gaudy number for Markakis is a total illusion; a mirage in the desert. Look at his RBI total! Last night's game aside, he has been horrific in the clutch. The majority of his (vast total of) RBI's have come at times when there was nothing on the line. Why am I picking on Nick? Because he's getting paid handsomely to produce, and he's not.

I have been an Oriole fan since I started understanding baseball at the age of 5. I enjoyed every season and loved watching teams that were some of the greatest of an era, if not history, bring me joy on almost a daily basis during the summer. Now I am almost 40 and a father of a one year old. I still believe in Orioles Magic because I don't know what else to believe when it comes to baseball. I hope the O's can figure this out before my son understands baseball in the next few years.

I think about the following and realize Angelos is the Donald Sterling/Los Angeles Clippers of baseball:

*The O's spent years with a spring training venue such a dump that the players' weight room was located in a tent on the stadium parking lot. Angelos and his son spent years negotiating for a new spring training site trying to maximize their profits off the deal while the players toiled in a dump.

*The O's spring training minor league complex/stadium was also such a dump that some opposing teams refused to play exhibition games there fearing injuries to their players. Again, Angelos and his son dithered for years over money for a new site.

*The O's scouting staff is considerably smaller than their AL East competitors, but THE PLAN included rebuilding the minor league teams with prospects. Angelos penny pinches the scouting budgets/costs in an area that the team's management says is key.

*How can a prospect like Tillman go AA, AAA and to the big league team and be sent back down to learn to throw a fastball with some movement. What were the O's minor league coaches teaching Tillman the past 2 years? After he gets to the majors, then they decide to teach him?

*I turn the TV off when Luke Scott, Wiggy, Tejada, Millwood and Hendricksen are up to bat or pitching as I am tired of watching washed up or never-to-be players. Why can't they spend the money they waste on these has beens for at least one quality player?

*McPhail actually has a sketchy GM history. He inherited the Twins world series team rosters and the best that can be said is he did not screw it up. Then he spent a ton of money in Chicago, the Cubs never really developed and he was run out of there.

*The O's first round draft choice in 2009 was Hobgood, a high school pitcher years away from contributing, if ever as he has no track record against quality hitters. Why a high school pitcher that no other teams ranked very highly? Angelos could sign him cheap.

Angelos is another Donald Sterling where the whole organization reeks of penny pinching, mismanagement, lack of scouts/coaches/teachers and their reputation is now so bad no quality player would even think about coming here. The only way out for us fans is for Angelos to sell the team.

As an O's fan for 50 years, this is rock bottom and just plain sucks. Why doesn't the Sun reporters call it like it is?


I've been watching the orioles my whole life. My family have always been oriole fans. I constantly find myself making excuses for them when in actuality, they don't deserve it. (atleast the front office doesn't) Every year there is always a quality hitter on the market tbhat strikes fear into pitchers and every year we somehow dont sign them. Jermaine Dye would sign a 3.8 million one year contract. I know he is old but the orioles have a history of signing old players plus he would mostly be used as an intimidation factor. our line-up is not a power hitting lineup, we just have hitters that compliment power hitters. Put Dye behind tejada and i guarantee he will start to see more fastballs, ie. more homers.Can you honestly feel good about spending money on garret atkins but not jermaine dye???

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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