Nelson Cruz has been arguably the biggest bargain of the 2013-14 off season as the Baltimore Orioles All Star is a legitimate American League MVP candidate after signing a one year, $8 million deal with the Birds this off season. Chris Davis finished third in AL MVP voting in 2013 and both he and Cruz have experienced an extended slump recently and the Orioles are still managing to win despite it.
Over his last 22 games, Cruz has hit just .233 with four home runs, 10 RBI, and eight extra base hits and has seen his season average drop all the way to .279 after hitting over .300 for a majority of the beginning of the season. Do not get us wrong, Cruz has been the most feared bat in the Orioles lineup for the majority of the season and it is hard to imagine where this team would be without him this season.
Davis has not had near the season that most expected from him as he has struggled all season at the plate, but over the same stretch of Cruz's slump, Davis has hit .135 with three home runs, 10 RBI and just four total extra base hits in 21 games played. He has also struck out 34 times in those 21 games.
Despite their recent slumps, the Orioles are still winning as they are 14-8 in their last 22 games and have averaged 4.6 runs per game in that stretch. The difference? Well for one, the Orioles pitching staff has allowed just 3.9 runs per game in that stretch.
As an entire pitching staff, the Orioles have boasted a 3.69 ERA with a 1.226 WHIP and have nearly struck out three batters for every walk allowed over the Birds last 22 games.
The O's are winning in a variety of ways during that stretch which starts with the pitching and continues with contributions from everyone else in the lineup, but a couple of hitters have picked up the slack in these last 22 games.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, their hottest hitter over that stretch is the guy who was a late scratch last night in Manny Machado. Over the Orioles last 22 games, Machado has hit .373 with six home runs, 11 RBI and three doubles in 16 games played. In addition, he has boasted a .422 OBP and a 1.151 OPS.
Mr. Consistency, Adam Jones has also helped pick up the slack as he has hit .301 with five home runs, 16 RBI and four doubles over this stretch and although four walks is not a lot, those four walks he has drawn account for nearly 25% of his season total.
JJ Hardy has seen his average dip a little bit over the Orioles last 22 games, but he has found the home run swing a little bit as he has hit three in that stretch and has also driven in 11 in addition to his four doubles. The best stat for Hardy during the 22 game stretch? He has scored 13 runs for the Birds.
Nick Markakis has scored a team high 14 runs during this 22 game stretch and Steve Pearce shares that mark with 14 runs score and has also added ten extra base hits during that stretch, including four home runs.
Why are we pointing all of this out? Easy, the Orioles are winning despite the fact that two of their more potent bats in the lineup are in a slump, which is a great sign for a team trying to win their first division title since 1997. One would expect both Cruz and Davis to come out of their slumps, and for those of you snickering at that statement in regards to Davis, just remember, he has hit .135 in the O's last 22 games, and you KNOW he is not going to hit .135 the rest of the season.
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