The loss is a tricky statistic. It rarely tells the whole story, and in Guthrie’s case, doesn’t even come close. Jeremy Guthrie, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.
In the past five seasons, Jeremy Guthrie has absorbed 65 Oriole losses. In other words, 17% of the time they played “Hard Day’s Night” as the stadium cleared out, an L was going next to Guthrie’s name on the score sheet. In those five seasons, there have been well over 100 pitchers-of-record in Baltimore. For perspective, loss-machine Daniel Cabrera did not account for as many defeats (59) in his five-year reign as Oriole whipping boy. Nobody has taken the brunt of this era of Baltimore baseball harder than Jeremy Guthrie.
This is not to say that Jeremy Guthrie is blameless in every one of his losses. Lack of run support has long plagued Baltimore’s top pitchers, but Guthrie had his share of throws he’d like back. In 2009, he surrendered a league-leading 35 home runs to opposing batters. In 2010, presumably to reel opponents’ power numbers in, Guthrie hit the second-most batsemn in the AL (16).
Still, for playing on as poor a club as Guthrie has, he has remained a positive force keeping the remaining Oriole faithful proud to be fans. Without being a ring-up artist, Guthrie has performed impressively in the all-important area of keeping runners off base. His WHIP as an Oriole (1.27) stands in stark contrast to a franchise that seems to allow runs by the bucketful.
It’s not uncommon for the jaded baseball fan (like this writer) to lament upon the tedium of a 162-game season. In Baltimore, we have come to lament the tedium of an entire decade. The Orioles are a perpetual motion machine that churns out 93-loss seasons with extreme proficiency. We’re not just waiting for a new April, we’re waiting for a new era.
And yet, we would be devastated if Baltimore Oriole baseball ceased to exist. Between “this” and nothing, I will take “this.” We’ve experienced five years of “this”, and Guthrie has been the steady mainstay through that time of tumult. He’s a talented pitcher, a good human, and a player who has bloomed late enough to find his way to one of baseball’s least desirable destinations. The armchair GM cliche’ has rarely been applied more vigorously to a player than it has to Guthrie: solid number two or three starter, but you’re in trouble if he’s your ace. Guthrie started three of five Opening Days for the Orioles.
The losses applied to Guthrie’s record can be attributed to such a wide range of factors that it feels unfair to look at his twice league-leading losing seasons (17 losses each) as an indictment of his abilities. Losses, like wins, in a team sport are constructed by the whole and attributed to an individual. While the statistics may look rough for “Guts,” the spirit of the records seem to have prevailed over the letter. Although technically he has been responsible for more losses than any pitcher in his five-year stretch, if you asked anyone following Oriole baseball closely “why have the 2007-2011 Orioles lost so many games?” I doubt I single person would mention Jeremy Guthrie’s name.
If the Baltimore Orioles ever return to prominence, Guthrie’s deeds will surely be forgotten. He will be remembered, if at all, as the best pitcher in an awful half-decade for a club. The late -00s Orioles may think they deserved better in an ace. In truth, Guthrie probably deserved better in an era of organization.