For those of you that have been following along patiently, you can skip through this introductory paragraph. If you haven’t sampled one of these yet then please take the time to read the introductory piece titled “Team Fielding Series.” It will explain why we are using each of these numbers and the overall implications of this study. If you have read it, let’s continue with the fun.
DER: .682 (27th)
RA: 860 (30th)
FLD%: .982 (18th)
Baseball Reference: -53 runs (29th)
Fangraphs: -53.6 runs (29th)
Fielding Bible: -35 runs (28th)
Baseball Prospectus: -11.5 runs (26th)
Composite Runs: -38.3 runs
Everyone knows the Orioles have a bad pitching staff, but maybe if their fielding wasn’t so horrible, they wouldn’t have such a horrible pitching staff. Imagine taking nearly 40 runs off of that runs allowed total.
Okay, they still would have been last in runs allowed, but you get the idea.
Creating such a horrible defense didn’t happen overnight. It won’t get fixed overnight, either, but there are steps the club can take to improve significantly. Even if they make one or two minor changes, they could end up being an average defense.
That, coupled with some pitching improvements, and the Orioles could be a lot more competitive in 2012.
Best Defender: Don’t look now, but Matt Wieters is becoming the player everyone thought he would be. He finished the season very strong offensively and he was head and shoulders above every catcher in baseball defensively last season. If he doesn’t win the American League Gold Glove, the award will be a sham.
Worst Defender: Mark Reynolds is the worst regular third baseman in baseball defensively. Hell, he’s the worst regular at any position defensively. If you removed his negative run outputs from the totals above, you would come close to being an average defense by itself. The Orioles should do themselves a favor and cancel any search for a designated hitter. He is playing third base.
Possible Changes: The Orioles have a lot of options in the offseason. Brian Roberts and Luke Scott will be returning from injuries, while Robert Andino and Nolan Reimold played well in their stead. Otherwise, most of the changes will come from within.
If the club finds a third baseman to replace Reynolds (moving Reynolds to DH), that will be a big help. Finding a legit center fielder while moving Adam Jones to right field and Nick Markakis to left field would also help the defense immensely. What that would do to Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold is anyone’s guess.
2012 Outlook: Andy MacPhail needs to stop building this team like it’s his rotisserie team. The club scored plenty of runs in 2011, but you aren’t going to win many games when you surrender 60 more runs than the 29th best team. At this point, trading offense for solid defense should be the order of the day.