MLB Predictions: 5 Reasons Baltimore Orioles Will Fail to Make Playoffs

Michael CarrollFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2012

MLB Predictions: 5 Reasons Baltimore Orioles Will Fail to Make Playoffs

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    Even with the extra playoff spot added to each league for 2012, 20 MLB teams will not make the playoffs. Two-thirds of MLB still will not gain entry into the most exclusive playoff in sports.

    The major difference between 2012 and years past is that more teams are in playoff contention for longer time periods; more “bubble teams” are created.

    This slideshow will discuss the eventual postseason fate of one such bubble team—the Baltimore Orioles.

    Baltimore has not made the postseason since 1997. Since then, the Orioles have never finished a season with a record above .500, and have never finished a season higher than third in the AL East. Also, they have not scored more runs than their opponents in a season since 2004.

    Through 108 games this season, Baltimore has a 57-51 record, which is good for second place in the AL East. If the season ended today (games through Aug. 5), the Orioles would not make the playoffs, though. Baltimore would hold the No. 7 seed in the AL playoffs, but with only five teams eligible for the postseason, the Orioles would miss out.

    Fortunately for Baltimore, though, the regular season does not end until Oct. 3. The Orioles have 58 games remaining to earn a playoff spot. They are still very much in contention.

    With that said, I think Baltimore will not make the playoffs.

    Let’s take a look at five reasons why the Orioles will miss out on the postseason.

     

    *All statistics are updated through Aug. 5, 2012.

Home Record Under .500

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    The Orioles have a 25-26 (.490) home record in 2012, which places them at No. 10 in the AL.

    If Baltimore has its eyes set on winning the AL East, then it has to win more home games. The Orioles have no home field advantage right now.

    By contrast, the Los Angeles Angels—the No. 6 team in the AL—have a 30-22 (.577) home record, despite being only a half-game ahead of the Orioles in the American League playoff race.

    Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, but not very intimidating to visiting teams. Baltimore has to change that to improve its playoff chances.

Poor Fielding

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    The Orioles have the worst fielding percentage (.980) and most errors (84) in MLB.

    According to FanGraphs.com, Baltimore ranks No. 29 of 30 MLB teams in UZR (-32.8) and No. 25 in RngR (-15.6). This means the Orioles are not saving runs with their defense.

    An error or two can make a big difference between a win and a loss. With so many defensive lapses, the Orioles are letting their playoff chances slip away each and every game.

    Butch Davis, the defensive coordinator—and no, not that defensive coordinator Butch Davis—has not done a good job with this bunch.

Injuries to Key Players

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    Every MLB team deals with injuries throughout the season, but the Orioles have seen some of their best players go down for long periods of time.

    According to CBSSports.com, Baltimore has seven players on the disabled list; three players—starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, outfielder Nolan Reimold and second baseman Brian Roberts—are out for the season.

    Only nine Orioles have played at least 60 games in 2012. This has made it difficult for Baltimore to get its best players out on the field together.

    Roberts’s injury problems are the most concerning. The second baseman ranks No. 16 in franchise history in WAR (26.3) and games played (1250).

    As a lifetime Oriole, it is unfortunate for Roberts to not be playing on one of the best Orioles teams in recent memory.

    “To see the excitement in the dugout and not being able to be a part of that after so many years here, playing in atmospheres that weren’t like that, that’s really hard…I want to be a part of this, but I also want to do [this] in a way that benefits the team and not be a detriment to the team. I’m not going to be selfish enough to go out there and do it just to go out there and be a part of it if I don’t think I can do it,” Roberts said after realizing his 2012 season was over.

    Hopefully for Baltimore and Roberts, 2012 is a step in the right direction rather than a flash in the pan.

Below Average Hitting

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    The Orioles are not hitting well enough to make the playoffs right now.

    Baltimore’s slash line of .243/.306/.402 is below the AL average slash line of .256/.321/.412.

    The Orioles have really hurt their offensive effectiveness with strikeouts. Their 891 strikeouts rank second in the league. Seven Orioles have at least 71 strikeouts.

    Baltimore has also grounded into 106 double plays, which is the second-most in the AL. Seven Orioles have grounded into at least eight double plays.

    The Orioles rank No. 11 in the AL in runs scored per game (4.1).

    Whenever the Orioles get on base, strikeouts and double plays are helping them put up outs rather than runs.

    Like errors, strikeouts and double plays are two ways the Orioles have hurt themselves this season.

Close Games

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    Baltimore has played in too many close games this season.

    Thirteen Orioles games have gone into extra innings. Though the Orioles have an 11-2 record in those games, it is always better to close out games in regulation.

    Baltimore’s relief pitchers have collected a lot of saves, but have also allowed a lot of blown saves. The combination of the two means too many Orioles games have come down to the wire.

    MLB teams should worry more about getting wins than how they are getting wins. However, improvements at the plate and from the starting pitchers will keep Baltimore out of extra innings and out of one-run games.