The offense is a disaster, but O's defense isn't consistently turning hits into outs - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

The offense is a disaster, but O’s defense isn’t consistently turning hits into outs

During this highway-wreck of an Orioles season, people continually ask me what’s wrong with this team.

And they really don’t have the appropriate time for the answer.

There’s a systematic, organizational disconnect that can be boiled down to a plan that is either highly flawed and/or non-existent or a decision-making hierarchy that is so multi-faceted and fragmented that it’s nearly impossible for a clear direction to be forged.

But when I say that, people’s eyes get glassy and they start nodding off.

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So, I often center my concerns on what is going on the field right now.

The roster is thin and poorly constructed, the offense is one-dimensional and the starting pitching – although better than last year’s – is wildly inconsistent.

You can say without hesitation that the horrid offense is the biggest issue: It is near the bottom of most categories in the AL and has scored seven runs in this current, six-game losing streak.

You can’t win if you can’t score. Period.

Thing is, though, the complaints about the offense and rotation have been around for the past six years in some sort of fashion and, many times, the Orioles have been able to push forward anyway.

The difference in 2018 is that the Orioles’ bullpen and defense, which combined to mask the deficiencies of the rotation and offense in past years, isn’t the same. Not close.

There is hope for the bullpen. Zach Britton (Achilles surgery) and Darren O’Day (hyperextended elbow) should return shortly after rehab stints in the minors. So, the bullpen should be better soon, once it is at full staffing.

But the same can’t be said about the defense.

It simply doesn’t turn hits into outs often enough these days, and, at times, it turns outs into hits.

Heading into Friday night, the Orioles were 11th of 15 teams in the American League in fielding percentage and 5th in errors committed. That’s obviously disappointing. There’s more to this, though.

The Orioles have seemingly had play after play this year that are ruled hits by the letter of the baseball law, but also include a caveat: a great major league defender should make that play.

It happened several times Friday during the Orioles’ 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees.

In the top of the third, Neil Walker ripped a smash to first that Chris Davis dove for and touched with his glove but couldn’t corral. Tough play. But makeable. Walker ultimately scored the Yankees’ first run.

In the fifth, Gleyber Torres hit a ball into the left field corner for a double. The ball skipped past Trey Mancini, which allowed Torres to try for a triple. It actually worked out for the Orioles when Torres lost his shoe on his way to third, slowed a step and was thrown out by Mancini.

Later in that inning, Greg Bird hit an RBI triple to deep center that Adam Jones tracked and jumped for, but the ball hit off his outstretched, backhanded glove. It was a long run and not an easy play and was ruled a hit, but it’s one we’ve seen Jones make countless times.

In the sixth, right fielder Joey Rickard took a circuitous route to a hard liner and it soared over his head for an RBI double.

None was an easy play. You and me? We couldn’t have caught them.

But above-average major league defenders?

They make those plays. And the Orioles made a ton of them from 2012 to 2016 – turning likely hits into outs.

“Those are hard hit balls (but) I understand,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m more concerned about runs scoring, but (defense) is something that we really wanted to be better at this year and, at times, we have been. And at times it hasn’t been there for us. So, I understand what you’re saying, I’m well aware of it. But it’s not from lack of effort, I’ll leave it at that.”

Showalter made a point of saying that he believes Manny Machado is “a lot more at ease with all the plays now at shortstop.”

And I’d agree. Machado is settling in nicely after an uneven start. And third base has been a little more stable recently with Jace Peterson getting more time there.

But, overall, the Orioles aren’t crisp defensively. And that wouldn’t be as much of a concern if the offense, you know, actually scored runs on occasion.

But it doesn’t. And a shakier defense simply can’t make up for that any longer.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Wilshade

    June 2, 2018 at 1:10 am

    Yep. But we did get here because of all the glassy-eye stuff. Worse, that stuff isn’t going to get fixed anytime soon.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 2, 2018 at 1:11 am

      There’s a good chance you are right.

  2. Churchton

    June 2, 2018 at 3:48 am

    I know joesph is not coming back to the majors but isn’t it time Susan goes down cause he needs time to develop his hitting skills

    • Dan Connolly

      June 2, 2018 at 9:19 am

      They could always bring up Wynns, too. But that makes Sisco the most experienced MLB catcher.

    • Paul Folkemer

      June 2, 2018 at 11:26 am

      Susac is 28 and has been in pro ball since 2012. I don’t think his hitting skills are going to develop much more at this point. The O’s have nothing to lose by giving him a shot, but I think I’d rather see Wynns at this point.

  3. Baltimos687

    June 2, 2018 at 7:46 am

    Dan, do you still see the O’s holding onto DD/Brady the next month and letting them make the deadline deals for the future? We are 17-40. It boggles my mind how DD is still here. 46-59 to avoid 100 losses, not a chance that happens. This team might top 1988 for the worst in franchise history…and I’m still not sure anything will be done about it.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 2, 2018 at 9:21 am

      Brady Anderson is going nowhere. That’s 100 percent. As for Duquette, the Orioles dont usually can someone in midseason. Can’t think of a time a top executive lost his job in-season. And as for Dan making the deadline deals as a lame duck, the truth is this is such a decision-by-committee group that it won’t be his alone.

  4. 5brooks5

    June 2, 2018 at 8:09 am

    Dan, you are so right. The defense is terrible and it makes me appreciate JJ Hardy all the more. He was such a vital part of this team and I miss watching him play. I even miss watching him trying to run! These next two months are vital in the future of the franchise. I hope someone is in charge and capable of making some sound decisions.

  5. Dblack2508

    June 2, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I will agree with everything that has been said so far. The disconnect goes to the wrong philosophy in this organization from their player development to what players to keep and move on from. I think this season has one blessing in disguise. I would prefer this than the Orioles being buyers rather than sellers at the trade deadline being 5 games out of the wild card.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 2, 2018 at 9:23 am

      That’s a good point. I know that was a legitimate concern heading into April. Shouldn’t be any longer.

  6. Djowen

    June 2, 2018 at 9:33 am

    We all know what the problems are . Unfortunately we don’t trust that they will be fixed based on the history of this ownership.

  7. GSISDANNO

    June 2, 2018 at 10:22 am

    I hate to say this but this team is hard to watch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team with so many under-achievers offensively. Once a pitcher gives up a third run, the game is over. It is shocking how bad this team has become so quickly.

  8. Bancells Moustache

    June 2, 2018 at 10:26 am

    I’m over all the doom and gloom stuff. I actually found Dan-o’s recent “Showalter in Caps sweater” story refreshing, and thought it strange people seemed agitated that our barkeep didn’t stick to the “Duquette must die/everything is horrible” narrative. That being said, the constant fundamental gaffes (2nd Baseman crossing bag and nearly colliding with Shortstop on pop flies, runners getting picked off in idiotic steal attempts etc.) falls not on ownership or the front office. The Field Manager foots the bill for such nonsense. Is Showalter just going in his office and locking the door now or what?

  9. Dpsmith22

    June 2, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Outfield: The O’s had the worst outfield in baseball in 15. Close in 16 and would have been in 17, but Mancini hit well enough to pull them out of dead last. Duquette continues to pile on rule 5’s, AAAA’s, or never were’s, when good options were avavilable. I mean Rasmus over Jay…and for more money? Really? 11 right fielders in 15, a major league record. 10 left fielders. Couldn’t find 1 starter? Incompetence.

    Jones has lost a step now and looked like garbage yesterday on more than one ball.

    SS: Had Duquette ever seen Beckham play SS before he acquired him? Hardy replaced by Beckham. Talk about falling off a cliff……

    My bet is Davis is taking his at bats in the field now.

    When you continue to pile negative WAR players into a roster, the expectation can’t be good. We are seeing the result of the incompetence of Duquette and rest of this front office.

  10. Hate the Gnats

    June 2, 2018 at 10:59 am

    That is what happens when you have First Basemen like Mancini and Trumbo in the outfield. It also doesn’t help to have an aging Centerfielder who should, be playing a corner outfield position. Davis also seems to be having his offensive woes effect his defense.

  11. bigdaddydk

    June 2, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Even an improved bullpen isn’t much help when the offense doesn’t score runs. Britton will be seeing a lot of spot duty to just get the work in rather than save opportunities. We currently have replacement level players at 3B, RF, C (until Sisco has fully developed), and 1B (actually significantly below replacement level.) Jones, Machado, and Schoop are legitimate MLB players at their positions, and Mancini is a MLB player in the wrong position. Trumbo is also out of position, making outfield defense a nightmare when he’s out there.

    But, on the plus side, Colby Rasmus will be back soon. SMH.

  12. Strovel

    June 2, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    During the rain delay the other night, the radio network played highlights from the Division clincher in ‘14. Seemed like a million years ago. You know it’s bad when you’re pining for Hundley, de Aza, and Delmon. Hell, I’d take Felix Pie over Gentry at this point.

  13. ubetonit

    June 3, 2018 at 2:59 am

    “And they really don’t have the appropriate time for the answer.” Reading War&Peace takes less time. The product on the field is LOUSY, but the organization is worse.

    Davis’ fielding? But he’s a Gold Glove quality 1b as we’ve been told so many times. Oh, well doesn’t matter b/c he makes up for it b/c he can carry the team with his bat as his defenders have told us.

    Btw, what is Davis if his fielding is subpar?

    I wrote long ago that Rickard was the worst fast OF i’d ever seen. But again we were told that he was a very good defensive OF.

  14. GCWiley

    June 3, 2018 at 8:07 am

    The defense has to be the worst in MLB if they factor in balls that they simply never get to that a good fielder would make. Jones can no longer play center, Mancini is a first baseman/DH in the outfield, Valencia is not an everyday third baseman, and Davis seams to miss at least one ball a week that a really good first baseman makes. On top of that, Rickard cannot take the correct route to balls in the outfield, Alvarez consistent wild throws to first and guys running wild, stealing bases, on the starters. This team plays awful defense.

  15. Lee

    June 4, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Great article as this is what bothers me the most and is a huge concern for the future. We need a change as it is obvious D is no longer a priority for the Os. I really believe we need to rebuild with the mind we have the best D. D players can be underrated so easier to obtain. I really wish we would have someone that comes in and demands this. We have the chance to have good pitching next year and the future. Put great D around them and build from there.

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