750: The Baltimore Orioles Magic Number

If you listened to Bird Talk, show number 13, this past week then you may have noticed I mentioned that there is a magic number of runs scored that the Baltimore Orioles need to get to in order to compete for a playoff spot this upcoming season. My statement of course was made with the assumption that the starting pitching doesn’t regress and the relief pitching remains fairly strong. The reason I’m making that assumption about the rotation is because the level of depth the team now has is cause for optimism and the belief, or hope at least, that a full season of their much improved defense should help keep them from giving up more than 650 total runs (they only gave up 642 earned runs last season).

Allow me to inform you though, the Orioles actually gave up 705 total runs in 2012 but the defense was pretty horrible through the first half of the season. Because of that I don’t believe they will give up nearly that amount in 2013 and that is why I am going with 650.

How I came up with the magic number of 750 for the Orioles is simple really; I used the standard Pythagorean Theorem and then its genetically modified cousin PythagenPat. The reason I am using both, as opposed to just one or the other, is because they are slightly different in how they calculate expected wins and losses but are still the two most accurate methods out there for determining the expected number of wins based on runs scored and allowed. And yes, I’m well aware the 2012 Orioles team laughed in the face of all win expectancy formulas out there.

If the Orioles were to score 750 runs this season and allow 650 then their expected win range would be between 87 (PythagenPat) and 92 (Pythag) on the year. There is currently a five win gap in between the two methods used but that’s okay because that’s actually a realistic expectation based on the assumed performance.

There were only six teams in baseball that scored 750 or more runs all of last year and the Chicago White Sox could’ve made it seven had they of just scored two more runs to finish out the season. Here’s a more expansive breakdown of teams scoring 750 or more runs in a season the last five years:

Year

Number of Teams 750+ RS

Number That Made Playoffs

2012

6

3

2011

5

4

2010

12

6

2009

14

7

2008

17

7

Total

54

27 (50%)

It’s clear to see how much the run scoring environment has changed over the last two years compared to the three before that, but it’s still interesting to note that teams that have scored 750 or more runs in a season have made the playoffs 50% of the time since 2008 (or 64% of the time since 2011 – small sample size, I know). Because of how the run environment has changed over the last several years there aren’t nearly the amount of teams that have given up 650 runs or less in the three years prior to the start of the 2011 season, but let’s list the total numbers anyway.

Year

Number of Teams 650- RA

Number That Made Playoffs

2012

8

6

2011

9

3

2010

7

4

2009

4

2

2008

2

1

Total

30

16 (53%)

As you can see there is a slightly higher rate of return for teams who allow 650 or less runs during the season by getting into the playoffs at a slightly higher rate than the teams who score 750 or more runs. Of all the teams to have made the playoffs by either scoring 750 or more runs or by allowing 650 or less, what we really ought to look at is how many of these teams made the postseason while doing both. Well, that’s where it starts to look a bit…difficult for the Orioles, or any team really, to accomplish as just four teams have done just that – made the postseason while scoring 750 or more runs and allowing 650 or less.

The 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays, and the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals all did what I’m saying that the Orioles have to do in order to find themselves in the thick of things towards the end of the season. Ruh-roh!

It’s a good thing I came prepared with a solution to the issue of this whole “odds stacked against you” thing – which seems to be a theme with this Orioles team.

I’m counting on the Orioles pitching staff to remain largely regression free, meaning that the starters who established themselves last season – which actually turns out to be pretty much every member of the rotation. The bullpen should also continue to be a strength heading into the upcoming season as the core of that group remains the same and the team has brought in some additional depth.

What that means is the team will be relying heavily on the offense being better than they were last year with the same group of players. No small task but one that is easily accomplished as long as the players stay healthy and are able to avoid any season ending, or season impairing, injuries the way that Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis did. As long as they stay healthy as a group then I believe the lineup I’m going to present below will be capable of scoring the 750, or more, runs necessary to win somewhere between 87 and 92 games (give or take a game or two here and there based on random occurrences/luck).

  1. Nate McLouth, LF
  2. Nick Markakis, RF
  3. Nolan Reimold, DH
  4. Adam Jones, CF
  5. Chris Davis, 1B
  6. Matt Wieters, C
  7. Manny Machado, 3B
  8. J.J. Hardy, SS
  9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

Bench: Wilson Betemit, Ryan Flaherty (can play the outfield), Taylor Teagarden, Brian Roberts (or an outfielder if he’s injured)

I believe that this is the lineup that the Orioles would be able to score nearly five runs a game with and would allow themselves the best opportunity to win on a daily basis. Here are the results of the simulations I’ve run concerning this lineup, and I’ve tried multiple variations of it with this being the one proving the optimal results:

Average Runs Per Game: 4.70
Runs For 162 Games: 761

This is the way the Orioles can get to that magic number of 750, or more, runs with largely the same group of players as they had over the course of last season. A lot of it will have to do with health and then of course the way the lineup is constructed but it is possible. Whether it actually happens or not is another matter entirely though, and one we won’t be able to draw a narrative on until the 2013 season is well under way.

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About the author


Lance Rinker    

Orioles Analyst

Lance is the Managing Editor for Konsume, a crowd-sourced news platform driving passionate journalism. In addition to his work on BSL, you can find Lance’s extended portfolio at his profile on Konsume and you can follow him on Twitter.


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