The story of the Orioles series win over the Yankees will likely be the long ball. Chris Dickerson went yard twice against his former team in game two, then Nate McLouth hit the walkoff in the tenth and ended the dreadful six-game skid. The power bats got started early against Hiroki Kuroda in game three as Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters hit balls out in the bottom of the first.
Those plays stick out to me and are the ones we’ll see on ESPN, but it’s the Orioles strong defense that I’ve been most impressed with this week. We posted a couple GIFs of Alexi Casilla turning a double play and Markakis making a diving catch in right field in game two. On Wednesday night, the defense shined again as Nate McLouth made a sliding catch in left and Markakis leaped to snag a ball at the wall.
Defensive statistics and metrics are often overlooked, but a large part of the reason the Orioles have been competitive in 2013 has been their play in the field.
At .992, the Orioles are tied for the MLB lead in fielding percentage with the Diamondbacks. Their .717 defensive efficiency (percentage of balls in play converted to outs) stands alone atop baseball. The O’s have turned 48 double plays this season (one less than the Twins for the AL lead) and have committed the fewest errors in the game (14).
By comparison, the Birds had a .699 defensive efficiency and .982 fielding percentage in 2012. They committed 106 errors, six more than the league average. Last season’s additions of McLouth and Manny Machado greatly improved the Orioles defense down the stretch.
Among third basemen, Machado’s 8.5 UZR is the highest in baseball, his .977 fielding percentage is second in the American League behind Kyle Seager. McLouth leads AL left fielders with a 2.28 range factor and has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
Right now the O’s defense is helping to carry their below average starting rotation (4.73 ERA, 25th in baseball).