The Orioles got off to a 4-0 start and are an impressive 6-3 after facing the Rays, Tigers and Rangers to open the season. The ballpark has shown signs of life, and the Orioles are the talk of the town. So why am I not more excited? Because the fundamentals don't support the hot start. To wit:
The offense (all numbers coming in to games of 4/11, league ranks in parentheses):
Team OBP: .282 (12th)
Team SLG: .348 (10th)
Team Runs: 35 (9th)
The Orioles offense has scored more runs than its OBP and SLG would suggest because they've compensated by doing an excellent job of driving in those few runners that do reach scoring position. Based on the team-wide .243 BAbip (.400 with RISP), I would expect a bit better performance in general but with less clutchiness and for this to be a roughly league average offense.
And the pitching:
Team K/9: 6.2 (10th)
Team BB/9: 3.6 (9th)
Team HR/9: 1.1 (9th)
Team Runs Allowed: 32 (4th)
Much like the offense, the pitching is outperforming its peripheral numbers. Why? A .234 BAbip allowed. I'm willing to bet that number finishes closer to .300 than .234 (above .267). The young staff absolutely has some upside to it, but the aggregate numbers don't suggest much staff-wide improvement yet. And before you say "But the defense is much improved!," the BAbip for the 1970 O's (with Brooks, Mark Belanger, Davey Johnson, Don Buford, Merv Rettenmund and Paul Blair) was .264.
I would like nothing more than to see this O's club make a run at contention, but so far, nothing has dissuaded me that this is still a .500 team with the same odd roster construction and personnel decisions we all scratched our heads over earlier this spring.