Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Midseason Review

It's the All-Star break, and that of course means a celebration recap of the first half.  New to this year's review, each award gets a Twitter hash tag!

Most Valuable Oriole: Nick Markakis
Nick's .308/.395/.452 line is good for a .371 wOBA and 2.2 WAR.  He may only have 6 homers and 31 RBI but I'll take a league-leading 28 doubles, a 1:1 K:BB ratio and a 12.9% walk rate any day of the week.  And, for the record, Nick has a .316/.421/.408 line with runners in scoring position. #RBIfail

Jim Palmer Award (since Cy Young was a Red Sock): Brian Matusz
Slim pickins.  I considered Matusz, Guthrie, Berken, and Simon, and really, none of them deserve the honor.  I went with Matusz since he's just 23 years old, and when he's on, he's brilliant.  Maybe we should change this to the #JorgeJulioAward.

Rolaids Relief Award: Jason Berken
There's been no shortage of heartburn from the O's bullpen (for instance, the team has allowed an .842 OPS in the 8th inning, an .878 OPS in the 9th, and a mind boggling 1.001 OPS in extra innings), but Berken really does spell relief.  Across 50.2 IP, he's post a 1.95 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.  He began the season in a long relief role but has earned the right to pitch higher leverage innings.  A prime example of the way a former starter's stuff can play up in the bullpen. #ProjectingRelieverPerformanceIsHard

Biggest Bust Award: Garrett Atkins
That was $4.5 million wasted.  Too bad we didn't spend the money on some more scouts or something. #NeverSawThisComing

Biggest Bust Award II: Mike Gonzalez
Another $12.0 million well-spent.  At least he's on pace to void my prediction that he never pitches in an Oriole uniform again. #ProjectingRelieverPerformanceIsHardSoDon'tSpendBigMoneyOnThem

Biggest Disappointment: Matt Wieters
Finally, a category where we have lots of candidates from which to choose!  Nolan Reimold (now batting .215 in Norfolk), Adam Jones (.304 OBP), and Chris Tillman (two stints in Norfolk) have all disappointed in one way or another, but Wieters production is the most worrisome.  Expected to be the cornerstone of a revitalized lineup, he's instead batting a measly .245/.315/.357.  To my untrained eyes, he's looked overmatched at times.  At least his defense has received rave reviews. #BaseballIsHard

Newest Man Crush: Zach Britton
He's gotten ground balls nearly two-thirds of the time in Bowie and Norfolk and was one of the standout performers at this weekend's Futures Game.  Granted, allowing ground balls is a terrible strategy considering the Orioles infield defense, but maybe one day we'll get some guys with more range than the Babe Ruth statue out there. #FutureAce

Best Nickname: Alfredo Simon

Biggest All-Star Snub: Nick Markakis
No, he probably doesn't deserve to make the team without the one player from each team rule, but that's no excuse for Joe Girardi selecting Ty Wigginton instead. Since he clubbed two homers on May 15 to bring his OPS to 1.070, Wigginton is hitting .212/.303/.272 with just two home runs in 211 plate appearances.  A .562 OPS in 152 plate appearances from Garrett Atkins got him designated for assignment, but a .575 mark from Wiggy means he goes to the All-Star game.  I guess now would be a good time to point out that Oriole clean-up hitters are hitting a stout .229/.292/.315. #TimingIsEverything

In conclusion, the first half of the season has been a disaster.  The O's are just 29-59, but at least they're finally off the pace of the 1962 Mets.  The club is about to hire its third manager of the year.  The young talent has regressed.  There are serious questions about the ability of the coaching staff to develop Major Leaguers.  And attendance continues to dwindle.  But with bright spots like Nick Markakis and flickerings from Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman, Jason Berken, David Hernandez and Alredo Simon, there are still plenty of reasons to watch in the second half.

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