Saturday, August 11, 2012

How are the Orioles staying in the race with a negative run differential?

One of the more bizarre things in baseball right now is that the Orioles are in the playoff hunt (tied for Wild Card lead) despite have a run differential of -47.  Of the 16 teams over .500, they are the only one with a negative run differential and it's a pretty high one.  How high?  The closest team to it is San Diego, and they're 14 games under .500 (50-64).

What's going on here?  Part of it could be their extraordinary ability to win extra inning games.  They are 12-2 in extra inning games, and 22-6 in one run games.  They also have gotten blown out a fair amount, which gives them a relatively high team ERA (4.07, 19th) despite decent pitching.  Dig into the numbers a bit, and it's because of their epic struggles against 3 teams: Mets, Rangers, Angels.

Mets: 0-3, -11
Rangers: 1-3, -21
Angels: 2-7, -31

vs. Mets, Rangers, Angels: 3-13, -63
vs. Everyone Else: 58-39, +16

The one series against Texas (May 7-10) looks bad because they gave up a combined 24 runs over the first 2 games, but only 12 over the next 2. 

The good news is that they are done with the Mets and Angels and only have 3 games left against the Rangers (in Texas, August 20-22). Aside from losing 13-1 on June 27, their main problem against the Angels has been scoring runs (only 23 in 9 games).

Their schedule is not going to be easy.  They have series coming up against the Tigers, Yankees, Rays and A's.  The fact that they are nearly finished with the Rangers, and have nothing left against the Angels or Mets, doesn't mean that all their problems go away.  It does seem, though, that they were unusually weak against those opponents and it might help them get to a positive run differential before the season is over.


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