MLB Parity: Break Up the Orioles, Pirates, and Royals

Todd PatakyCorrespondent IApril 5, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 04:  Matt Wieters #32 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch by the Detroit Tigers during the secon inning during opening day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 4, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Four games into a 162-game season and we are seeing some of the strangest baseball in recent memory.

The Baltimore Orioles, usually an afterthought in the AL East, have not lost a game. They swept the Rays over opening weekend and won their home opener last night against the Tigers.

Nick Markakis is batting over .400, and Matt Wieters' average is .385 on the young season. Markakis is slugging .500, and both men are above .400 in On Base Percentage. Brian Roberts has two home runs and eight RBI already.

All three of them have five or more hits on the season already.

In four games played, the O's have scored 17 runs.

Compare that to the four runs total the pitching staff has allowed, all of them earned.

Jeremy Guthrie pitched eight strong innings in the O's season opener against the Rays allowing no runs on three hits with six strikeouts. No Orioles' pitcher has allowed more than a single run during their time on the mound this year.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, on a streak of 18 straight seasons with a losing record, are 3-1 after taking two of three from the Cubs at Wrigley Field and beating the Cardinals in St. Louis last night.

Jose Tabata and Neil Walker are leading the Bucs with averages over .400. Tabata has an On Base Percentage of .529 and Walker is Slugging .765.

Andrew McCutchen is also producing at the plate. He is slugging over .900 and his homerun helped lift the Bucs over the Cardinals on Monday.

The pitching for the Pirates hasn't been as steady as for the Orioles, but if you take Ross Ohlendorf (6.00 ERA) and Evan Meek (21.60) out of the equation, no Pirates' pitcher has an ERA higher than 3.00. That's about as good as pitching has been in the 'Burgh in a very long time.

It's a little more mysterious how the Kansas City Royals are doing what they are doing. Hosting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for a four-game set to open the season, they dropped the opener, but won the next three by a combined score of 19-14.

Late-game heroics seem to be the MO of the Royals.

A walk-off homer by Kila Ka'aihue beat LA on April 1. The game was a classic pitcher's duel with a final score of 2-1.

An eighth inning RBI single by Chris Getz (anything you need, Chris Getz) pushed the Royals past the Angels on April 2nd after they had lost the lead to LA in the sixth. 5-4 was the final.

Then, on Sunday, another walk-off home run, this one a three-run jack by Matt Treanor, ended the game in the 13th inning by a score of 12-9.

It is doubtful that any conclusions about the season can be drawn from these three teams' early season performances; just as nothing can be drawn from the fact that the champion San Francisco Giants are at the bottom of their division, and the Boston Red Sox have not won a game.

The Orioles and Pirates are breaking in new managers, Buck Showalter and Clint Hurdle respectively, and the Royals are in their third season with Trey Hillman at the helm.

Could it be that the new attitudes these managers bring to their teams are rubbing off on the players?

Only time will tell how the season will play out, but I'm sure people in Baltimore, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh are happy to see their teams doing something they have not done a lot of recently.