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I guess the Orioles forgot how to win one-run games

Sep 12, 2013, 8:55 AM EDT

Stat tweet of the morning for you all. After the Orioles were otherwordly in one-run games (and extra inning games) last year …

 

Which is obvious if you believe and understand most of what we know about one-run games: they tend to go either way and having a lights-out bullpen will give you an edge. Relievers not named Rivera and Kimbrel have a lot of one-year variance. The ball bounces one way this year and the other way next year.

I just seem to remember a lot of Orioles fans getting really, really upset last season if you dared suggest that the O’s record in one-run games was due to luck or a fluke or was otherwise not-sustainable. And I wonder what those folks think now.

  1. Innocent Bystander - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    The amazing thing is last year we felt the O’s were only successful because of their 1-run game record. This year they are successful in spite of it.

    • proudlycanadian - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:15 AM

      If the season ended today, they would be deemed to be unsuccessful due to their1 run game record.

    • yankee172 - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Orioles = successful
      Yankees = disaster

      Got it.

      • drewsylvania - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:04 AM

        What is the Yankees’ record in one-run games? If poor, you’re correct.

      • yankee172 - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        Drew – 26-15. Actually among the best in baseball, ironically. Those come down a bit if you consider that they’re 5-6 in extra innings, though.

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings/_/type/expanded

        I’m still not sure how a poor record in 1-run games would make them a disaster, though.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      1 run games are like turnovers in football. It’s part luck, part execution, part taking advantage of available opportunities. Last year everything went Baltimore’s way. This year, things aren’t working out as well. They are not capitalizing on opportunities, and seem to have this issue where we take a lead, then immediately give it back.

      But as others have said, we got upset last year because the general public and media outside of Baltimore couldn’t grasp the concept that the Orioles were not simply fluky or lucky, that their success was due in large part to ability. None of the “experts” wanted to admit they were wrong when they picked the birds to end up last in the league, and the only explanation had to be FLUKE! LUCK! MAGIC!

    • Mark - Sep 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM

      The Orioles are on pace to win 86 games and they won 93 last season. I certainly wouldn’t argue they’re successful in spite of the one run record.

  2. goskinsvt - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    O’s bullpen 2012 ERA: 3.00
    O’s bullpen 2013 ERA: 3.67

    It’s not rocket science.

    • paperlions - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      No, it isn’t…but those numbers are also irrelevant because run prevention is only a portion of the equation…a bad bullpen can just as easily blow a big lead causing a 1-run win as it can blow a 1-run lead.

      The Phillies have a 4.26 bullpen ERA (3rd worst in the majors) with a 25-23 record in 1-run games while being 11 games under .500 in non-1-run games.

      The Royals have a 2.59 bullpen ERA (end best in the majors) and are only 27-23 in 1-run games while being 4 games over .500 in non-1-run games.

      The bullpen quality argument for effects on 1-run games is not consistent with the data, but perpetuated narrative that ignores the available data. In general, 1-run game records of teams are due to change and over time should approximate the overall record of the team (i.e. good teams generally have good records in 1-run games because they are good teams and bad teams generally have bad records in 1-run games because they are bad teams).

      • paperlions - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        *chance, not change.

  3. hmink96 - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    As one of those fans, I think the uproar last year was more against the theory that the Orioles were not a good team, and only lucky, because of the one-run win/loss record. That really takes away from what was their biggest strength last year, their bullpen. I think their record this year, in one-run games, along with the fact that they are still involved in the playoff race, helps prove that the O’s were more than just a team getting lucky.

    • drinkpeepee - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      you hit the nail on the head. anyone who was outraged because they insisted that the insane, all-time performance in 1-run games was sustainable is an idiot (and I don’t think there are actually many people who believed that). O’s fans were angry that people insisted they weren’t actually good and just lucky based on the 1-run game record and their run dif. the fact they’re in the same position this year that they were last year vindicates those people. the O’s are good now, and last year NO ONE outside of Baltimore wanted to admit it, they only wanted to explain it away. that’s where the anger and backlash came from.

    • hansob - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Two problems with that theory: Chris Davis and a full season of Manny Machado. These two are the reason why this year’s team is as good despite the one-run record. If Baltimore didn’t have Davis, and Machado had gotten called up in Mid-August of this year, the Orioles would be right there with the Blue Jays at around 67-78.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:12 AM

        No arguments that Manny and Chris have certainly carried the team this year. The late season pitching trades for Norris and Feldman have certainly helped solidify the rotation, but the rapid decline of Markakis and crapfest that has been Matt Wieters’ offense have really kept the team back. Plus, my above mentioned get a few, then give them back immediately thing.

      • drinkpeepee - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        So it’s your position that if the Orioles didn’t have Chris Davis and Manny Machado they wouldn’t be good? Groundbreaking. If Team X didn’t have Player Y and Z, they’d have a losing record. No shit. How about we talk about things that are real now?

      • hansob - Sep 12, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        You can’t argue that last year wasn’t a fluke solely based on this year’s record. It’s two different teams. One had crappy production from the the corner IF’ers for the vast majority of the year, and the other has the best corner IF combo in baseball this year.

      • drinkpeepee - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        You’re trying to marginalize Chris Davis and Manny Machado’s contributions to last year’s team because they’ve had even better 2013 campaigns? THEY WERE ON THE TEAM LAST YEAR. And Davis posted career highs last year, too.

      • hansob - Sep 12, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        No. I’m trying to marginalize Davis and Machado’s contributions last year because their contributions were marginal at best until the middle of August last year. They are on pace to be a combined 10 WAR better this year than last.

        So if the rest of the team is collectively hitting and pitching roughly as well as last year (within reason), and they add Super Chris Davis instead of Regular Chris Davis to the mix, and get an extra 100+ games of a top 5 third baseman, and STILL finish 5+ games off last year’s pace, wouldn’t that indicate that either last year things broke right, this year they broke bad, or a combo? Probably a combo.

    • peymax1693 - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      I don’t remember it being a question of saying the Orioles weren’t good; rather, it was a question of whether they really as good as their final record would suggest, given their unbelievable record in one run games. And contrary to your conclusion, I think their losing record in one run games this year and the fact that they are on the outside of a playoff spot looking in shows that the Orioles did rely on a little bit of luck, for lack of a better term, to end up with the record they did last year.

      • inserthandle - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        There was undoubtedly luck, but in the second half there was also a real upgrade in talent that many analysts managed to ignore. They were so enamored with the one-run game and run differential narratives that they were blind to the potential impact of Machado, a reborn Davis (he began to click last September), a salvaged McLouth, etc. So they picked the team to finish last again this year. As I write the Oriole are in fourth place, but fourth place in the East is good for 1.5 games out of the playoffs.

  4. ncm42 - Sep 12, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Agree with hmink. People may also think this is…you know…a different team than last year’s. so there’s that.

  5. carefreejt - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    well paper..that would take research (outside of twitter feeds) and not continuing the narrative. ..and wouldn’t alllw the writer to take a little shot..so wasn’t going to happen here…
    and agreed w above..the outrage was that ppl acted as if the Os were lucky. .and not good..and that the 1 run record last yr proved it

  6. inserthandle - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    In 2012 Buck inserted relievers with a lead and they got outs (or surrendered runs) as necessary until the game was won by one run. This year he inserts relievers and they surrender runs until the game is lost by one run. Last year was just an incredible run of luck. Jim Johnson’s BABIP has gone from .252 to .320. Double play balls last year are game-tying singles this year. This year’s club will easily surpass last year’s in run differential but is on pace for 7 fewer wins.

  7. jonrox - Sep 12, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Go figure that “luck” isn’t a repeatable skill.

    • km9000 - Sep 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      “Yes it is! Some people can flip coins and come up with heads almost every time!” – H Reynolds

  8. sophiethegreatdane - Sep 12, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    I don’t recall much outrage last season from my fellow fans. In fact, most of us just sat back and enjoyed the run. The outrage (which is really an overblown term) was more focused on so-called “experts” pre-season predictions, which put the O’s back at around a 65-70 win season. As if luck alone could account for a nearly 25 game swing.

    I argued that the Orioles would not have to be nearly as lucky in one-run games to have another successful season. And so far, I have been quite correct.

    In fact, if the Orioles had just so-so luck in one-run games, they would be either in first place, or just outside first place and leading in the wild card.

    I will make a prediction. Those same “experts” who were so quick to subtract 15-20 wins in their predictions for the 2013 season — based on last year’s performance in one run games — will not be so quick to add 15-20 games to the predicted performance of the 2014 Orioles based on this year’s performance in one-run games.

  9. pastabelly - Sep 12, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    All of this analysis and I just thought it related to mediocre starting pitching.

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