It was a tough weekend for the Baltimore Orioles as they dropped two of three against the Minnesota Twins, including the final two games of the series to drop back to 15-14 on the season and saw their temporary lead in the AL East disappear, but still remain just a half game back. One aspect of that the Orioles are performing very well in this season both offensively and on the mound has been with runners in scoring position.
Baltimore's offense has been very hit and miss this season, but one area they have not struggled in very often is hitting with runners in scoring position. In 2013, the Birds finished the season with a .266 average with runners in scoring position, which ranked eighth in the big leagues and sixth in the American League.
Fast forward to 2014, and those already impressive numbers are much better thus far this season as they are currently hitting .294 with runners in scoring position which leads the AL and is second to just Colorado's .300 average in all of baseball. So why hasn't the offense been scoring more runs? The big issue is that the Orioles 235 at bats are the seventh fewest in all of baseball, so the important thing to note is that this offense is taking advantage of the opportunities when they have been presented, and the offense is too good to go the entire season without more opportunities with runners in scoring position than they are getting right now.
On the flip side, the pitching staff has also improved with runners in scoring position, but the improvement is by far more substantial than that of the offense. Thus far in 2014, the Orioles pitching staff ranks ninth in all of baseball, and fourth in the AL by holding opponents to just a .221 average with runners in scoring position. In addition, their 1.10 WHIP with runners in scoring position is tied for second in the AL and their 10.23 ERA is fourth in the AL. The one downside of the Orioles pitching staff with runners in scoring position is the fact that they are tied for the AL lead with nine home runs allowed.
The turnaround is very welcomed as in 2013, Baltimore's pitching staff was abysmal with runners in scoring position. The O's had the eighth highest opponents batting average in all of baseball in 2013 with a .260 clip, their 11.42 ERA was the ninth highest in MLB, and their 32 home runs allowed also ranked in the bottom half.
It is nice to see the Orioles ranking so high in both areas, and the hope for the team would be to have their offense increase the number of opportunities with runners in scoring position and that their pitching staff continues their improvement over last season, while reducing the rate of home runs allowed with runners in scoring position.
When you really look at it, Baltimore is in a very fortunate position in the standings when you think about that fact that their number of opportunities have been limited offensively, but they have been good at cashing them in, while their pitching staff is limiting damage when their opponents get their opportunities.
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