I am going to run a weekly notes post on all of the thoughts that rattle around in my head when watching the Orioles during the week.
If you had a choice, which Orioles pitcher would you pick to get an out right now? There is no obvious answer in my mind. Every starter and reliever seems to be struggling in their most recent appearance(s). I might pick Zach Britton, which continues to boggle the mind after past years. Anyways…on to the notes.
Jones has displayed some of the most disparate game to game at bats. One game, he will foul off pitches, take the count full, and try to drive the ball. The next game, like against Brett Cecil on Tuesday, he will swing over three straight sliders and will look like someone who has never seen a breaking ball before. He has had his ups and downs thus far this season. His 4.7% walk rate is right in line with his career averages, but his K-rate is 23.3%–nearly 4% over his career mark. He has a similar batting line all around except for the lack of power thus far. His SLG is only .393 with a paltry .111 ISO (Last year it was .208). His line drives and flyballs are up, which is a good sign for him making decent contact. That backed up by a 4.9% HR/FB rate means that the extra base hits should begin piling up soon. The K% is worrisome, but the underlying numbers call for some regression to the mean in a positive sense. If he can turn it around soon, it will be a great boon for the Offense. One interesting side note, Adam has yet to hit an extra base hit at home this season.
Davis has had a hard time replicating his crazy power numbers from last season thus far, just like Jones. However, unlike Jones, Davis is making up for it other ways. Davis’ OBP is .379 which is UP from .370 last season even though his batting average is 40 points down from where it was in 2013. In fact, against right handed pitchers, Chris Davis is walking in 18% of his plate appearances, up 5% from last year; and even his left handed walk rate is 2% up from last season. The added patience is great for Davis especially, because if you’re watching his at-bats closely, pitchers are trying to get him to swing at pitches in and them finish him off low and away. He has done a good job of making pitchers earn their strikeouts. All of his batted ball rates look good, except for his HR/FB% which is only 10.5% (which is not really that low for most hitters) down from an astronomical 29.6% last year and a career rate of 22.1%. The home runs will come, sooner rather than later.
WOW is all that can really be said about Cruz’s start to the season. He’s sporting a .424 wOBA, .301 ISO, and a 171 wRC+. If you don’t know what those acronyms mean (check out the ON library) he is top 10 in the majors in all them. Simply put, he hass been one of the best hitters in baseball to this point in the season. Furthermore, Cruz has a walk rate of 12% which is 4% higher than his career average and his strikeout rate is 16.9% which is nearly 6% lower than his career mark. He has had consistently fantastic at bats through the first three weeks of the season. However, for a 33 year old to suddenly walk at a much higher rate and strikeout at a much lower rate is very surprising and something I would not necessarily expect to continue. His BAPIP is in line with his batting average, but his Line Drive rate is low and his HR/FB% is very high. It will be interesting to see how long Cruz can maintain this early season performance and if he has truly changed his approach. Interesting side note, even though Cruz has been the best hitter on the team, he has not been the most valuable according to WAR. Why? Defense. I’ll just leave this here if you want my thoughts on the subject.