Trey Mancini - Baltimore Orioles outfielder
Image Credit: Keith Allison

Welcome to Overreaction Of The Week, my over the top, uninhibited, Baltimore sports-fan takes on this week’s Orioles activity.

What Happened?

It’s no secret that the Orioles’ offense got off to a slow start in 2018. It has been well documented, so I won’t belabor the facts. However, the past four games have seen an uptick in production. Buck Showalter held a closed-door meeting after an 8-4 loss to the Rays to cap off an 11 game stretch that included just one win. Since that meeting, the Orioles have scored at least five runs in four of five games. Outside of those four games, the Orioles had only scored five runs in a game seven times all season,

The meeting seems to have jump-started the offense, and the Orioles should be able to get recover and meet expectations. A couple big bats returning to the lineup will certainly help as well.

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My Take

The Orioles actually lost the game after Showalter’s berating. However, they scored five runs and racked up 16 hits, much more production than the fans had become accustomed to. Manny Machado had been the only one performing up to expectations, if not exceeding them. So far, he has been named AL Player of the Week, and has already nearly matched his WAR from last season. Other than Machado, the Orioles’ offense has struggled mightily. However, in the four of the five games since Showalter’s meeting, things have been quite different. Pedro Alvarez has hit four home runs and driven in six runs within that span to help Machado carry the team. Trey Mancini has been a steady presence at the top of the order and has slowly pushed his OPS higher. Adam Jones seems to have lowered his hands in an adjustment to his batting stance, but his production has been uneven. Jones’ batting average on balls put in play is .270, and is likely to rebound to his career average, especially since his percentage of hard hit balls is higher this year than it has been over the course of his career.

Adding slugger Mark Trumbo back to the roster adds another dangerous bat and length to the order. Though he is a strikeout candidate and showed some rust last night, he can also hit a home run at any moment. To add another bat of his caliber to the lineup adds depth and length, and does not let any pitcher relax for even a batter, rendering him prone to mistakes. Trumbo is coming off of a tough 2017 season, in which is weighted on-base average, a weighted measure of standard offensive statistics, was .295, well below his career average of .327. While he is aging, it is possible that the 2017 was an outlier and the regression isn’t as drastic as anticipated. If he can approach his projections for the season, a .325 wOBA, he will be a key cog in the Orioles offense.

Jonathan Schoop is another player expected to return soon, he has been on the disabled list since April 14. Even he was performing well below expectations, and I expect him to get back to his All Star form. I feeling is that he was pressing, opening the season with such high expectations and hitting in the three spot in the order. With other players contributing, there will be less pressure on Schoop to produce and he can return to his 2017 approach and cut down on his strikeouts.

The Overreaction

The Orioles’ current roster has warmed up offensively and is finally giving the pitching staff some support. When the runs weren’t coming, there was even more pressure on the pitching staff than usual. Several sabermetrics point to players like Jones and Schoop improving their offensive output and Mark Trumbo’s return adds another bat with major power and depth to the order. While things looked bleak for the Orioles’ offensively, there are signs of life, and the Birdland Power Co. will put a charge in baseballs once again.

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