All possible reasons for the resurgent 2012 season the Baltimore Orioles have enjoyed. A 93-69 record, good for 2nd place in the AL East, and a Wild Card berth, which, after a stunning victory over the Texas Rangers in the so-called play in game, gave them the pleasure of facing the New York Yankees in the ALDS, all fly in the face of the black and white numbers of the O’s season.
A +10 run differential, and a 82-80 Pythagorean Win-Loss Expectancy, all point to Baltimore having no business in the postseason; judging by those numbers, they don’t have the look of a playoff contender.
While on the subject of looks–
…damnit sit down, Nick Markakis, we’re not talking about you.
So how about those looks. Using ol’ Nick as our model, it looks that this year, the O’s have reverted back to their old cartoon bird logo, which was first seen back in 1965. From ’65 until 1988, the goofy bird adorned the noggins of many an Oriole, even Lenn Sakata, whose 1983 Topps baseball card adorned the spokes of my Mongoose bike, and made it sound pretty rad.
Sorry, Lenn, you deserved better, but 7 year old radinsky36 didn’t know any better. If I could take it all back, I’d have used Charlie Kerfeld’s card.
However, in 1988, until 2011, the Orioles had the ornithologically correct bird for their mascot, which was also the logo used from their inaugural season of 1954, until 1965.
Markakis, get away from the mirror, and show the good readers of HDIB? the old hat.
OK, that’s enough out of you #21. Go have a seat, and try not to strain anything along the way.
Prior to the outstanding season of 2012, the last winning season Baltimore enjoyed was in 1997, coincidentally the last year they saw the playoffs. 15 years of ineptitude, 15 years wearing the ornithologically correct logo…
Could the 2012 magic be due in part to the reverting back to the cartoon Oriole logo?
Let’s go to the numbers, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
First, the ornitholgically correct years – 1954-65, then 1988-2011. Table me!
|2011||162||69||93||0||0.426||5th of 5|
|2010||162||66||96||0||0.407||5th of 5|
|2009||162||64||98||0||0.395||5th of 5|
|2008||161||68||93||0||0.422||5th of 5|
|2007||162||69||93||0||0.426||4th of 5|
|2006||162||70||92||0||0.432||4th of 5|
|2005||162||74||88||0||0.457||4th of 5|
|2004||162||78||84||0||0.481||3rd of 5|
|2003||163||71||91||1||0.438||4th of 5|
|2002||162||67||95||0||0.414||4th of 5|
|2001||162||63||98||1||0.391||4th of 5|
|2000||162||74||88||0||0.457||4th of 5|
|1999||162||78||84||0||0.481||4th of 5|
|1998||162||79||83||0||0.488||4th of 5|
|1997||162||98||64||0||0.605||1st of 5||Lost ALCS (4-2)|
|1996||163||88||74||1||0.543||2nd of 5||Lost ALCS (4-1)|
|1995||144||71||73||0||0.493||3rd of 5|
|1994||112||63||49||0||0.563||2nd of 5|
|1993||162||85||77||0||0.525||3rd of 7|
|1992||162||89||73||0||0.549||3rd of 7|
|1991||162||67||95||0||0.414||6th of 7|
|1990||161||76||85||0||0.472||5th of 7|
|1989||162||87||75||0||0.537||2nd of 7|
|1965||162||94||68||0||0.580||3rd of 10|
|1964||163||97||65||1||0.599||3rd of 10|
|1963||162||86||76||0||0.531||4th of 10|
|1962||162||77||85||0||0.475||7th of 10|
|1961||163||95||67||1||0.586||3rd of 10|
|1960||154||89||65||0||0.578||2nd of 8|
|1959||155||74||80||1||0.481||6th of 8|
|1958||154||74||79||1||0.484||6th of 8|
|1957||154||76||76||2||0.500||5th of 8|
|1956||154||69||85||0||0.448||6th of 8|
|1955||156||57||97||2||0.370||7th of 8|
|1954||154||54||100||0||0.351||7th of 8|
To cut to the chase: 35 years, with 11 winning seasons, *2* playoff appearances, *1* first place finish. On average, the ornithologically correct era was a losing one, with 75 wins being an average season.
Now, on to the cartoon bird years — table, please!
|2012||162||93||69||0||0.574||2nd of 5||Tied in LDS (1-1)|
|1988||161||54||107||0||0.335||7th of 7|
|1987||162||67||95||0||0.414||6th of 7|
|1986||162||73||89||0||0.451||7th of 7|
|1985||161||83||78||0||0.516||4th of 7|
|1984||162||85||77||0||0.525||5th of 7|
|1983||162||98||64||0||0.605||1st of 7||Won WS (4-1)|
|1982||163||94||68||1||0.580||2nd of 7|
|1981||105||59||46||0||0.562||2nd of 7|
|1980||162||100||62||0||0.617||2nd of 7|
|1979||159||102||57||0||0.642||1st of 7||Lost WS (4-3)|
|1978||161||90||71||0||0.559||4th of 7|
|1977||161||97||64||0||0.602||2nd of 7|
|1976||162||88||74||0||0.543||2nd of 6|
|1975||159||90||69||0||0.566||2nd of 6|
|1974||162||91||71||0||0.562||1st of 6||Lost ALCS (3-1)|
|1973||162||97||65||0||0.599||1st of 6||Lost ALCS (3-2)|
|1972||154||80||74||0||0.519||3rd of 6|
|1971||158||101||57||0||0.639||1st of 6||Lost WS (4-3)|
|1970||162||108||54||0||0.667||1st of 6||Won WS (4-1)|
|1969||162||109||53||0||0.673||1st of 6||Lost WS (4-1)|
|1968||162||91||71||0||0.562||2nd of 10|
|1967||161||76||85||0||0.472||6th of 10|
|1966||160||97||63||0||0.606||1st of 10||Won WS (4-0)|
Oh my. What a difference a logo makes.
The cartoon bird tale of the tape:
24 years, 8 first place finishes, 20 winning seasons, an 88 win season on average, 9 playoff appearances, 6 World Series appearances, winning 3 of them, including one in the first year of the cartoon logo.
The evidence is fairly damning – cartoon bird makes the Orioles world go ’round, and is the bringer, on average, of 13 more wins than boring, normal looking Oriole logo.
When first unveiled, Baltimore won it all with the cartoon Oriole in tow. Could history repeat itself, with a fourth championship brought to Charm City, courtesy of the re-unveiling of the old logo?
If it does, it will be (cartoon) Orioles Magic.
As we come to down to the homestretch of the 2012 MLB season, we find many teams not only still alive in the hunt for a playoff berth, but also a division title. One of the more befuddling teams this season has been the Baltimore Orioles, who currently share 1st place in the AL East with the New York Yankees, after spending much of the season atop the division alone, and at one point, enjoying a 10 game lead on the second place O’s.
On a team full of headscratchers, one player rises above the rest, and sits atop the mountain of improbables, as King of the WTF’s.
Ladles and gentlespoons, I give you Nate McLouth – nay – FORMER ALL STAR Nate McLouth.
A midseason minor league signing after not hitting enough to make the most of his second tour of duty with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Nate has done his share to bring home a handful of improbable victories, in a season full of improbables for the Orioles, and in a scant number of at bats. From baseball purgatory (or at least AAA affiliate Norfolk), to hero, McLouth has done about as much as you can ask a guy in 98 at bats.
So how did he get to late inning heroics from a 2010 season distinguished by a WPA of -1.31, especially given a league wide acknowledgement that his bat speed has been in decline ever since his All Star season of 2008?
As usual, I will look at the numbers, some standard, some advanced, but all delightful, and not to be afraid of. I know what many of you are thinking already…
…but hang with me on this. If not, skip ahead a couple of paragraphs, or bide your time with the many faces of McLouth.
So what can we say about McLouth’s Charm City success? Is it a revival of past Pirate prowess, or the apex of a disappointing post-Atlanta career? Looking at what Nate’s done with the O’s, during his breakthrough 2008 All Star campaign, and his career, overall, let’s see if we can answer this WTF moment, with the help of our buddies at Fangraphs:
Nothing really jumps out as something indicating the turn for the better for McLouth’s hitting. He’s walking and striking out as much as he has over his career, with unremarkable power numbers. His BABIP has increased a hair thus far in his Baltimore stint, but is still slightly below average. His line drive percentage (LD%) has gone up a tick, but can be readily paired with BABIP, so doesn’t pose much of an explanation of Nate’s success on its own. Again, we must consider small sample size – right around 100 AB’s for his 2012 Baltimore appearances. His stolen base rates are also at career average, so his legs aren’t helping his cause any more than they did in his heyday.
Looking at his batted ball, pitch type, and plate discipline, we can see that, in general, his approach to pitchers, and what he swings at, and the success he has with those swings in making contact, compared to the pitcher’s approach to him, in what they are throwing him, have not seen any significant changes. The only minor variation I see is that he is seeing more cutters, as the pitch becomes more and more the bread and butter of all hurlers; this bodes well for a guy whose bat speed has declined significantly over the last few years. Throw a slider/cutter to a guy with slider/cutter speed bat speed, chances are, he’s going to hit it. However, the spectre of small sample size haunts us yet again.
So what do we have? We have a guy who is making the most of an opportunity, and playing the game within the limits of his fading, albeit still productive, abilities. Hard work, catching lightning in a bottle one last time due to small sample size, a head clearing trip to AAA, and making the most of the cutters he sees, all add up to a worthwhile and shrewd signing by Baltimore; let’s be honest, a bench/spot starter type player who gives you a 0.6 fWAR is nothing to complain about.
For us, we have a true WTF? story, and one so WTFish, even Nate can’t believe it: