How good is the Orioles’ defense this year?
You may already know that their 40 errors in 139 games puts them on pace to commit 47, shattering the 2003 Mariners’ record of 65 over a 162-game season. But there’s more.
According to STATS, the Orioles are the first team in major league history to post 100 errorless games by the end of August. They had 101.
The Orioles set a new club record with 106 errorless games this season. The previous mark was 104 in 1998, when the defense included Cal Ripken Jr., Roberto Alomar, Mike Bordick, Rafael Palmeiro and Brady Anderson.
The 1998 team finished 79-83 under first-year manager Ray Miller.
“Can you imagine what they would have been without that?” said manager Buck Showalter.
“Everybody strives to be that. You can always impact a game defensively. I’ve had some players who drive in one and let in two. That math doesn’t work.
“One thing we tried to establish here is that that’s a criteria for an Orioles player. And that’s why we made the move with Manny (Machado) last year, regardless of what happened offensively. You can go right down the line. Whether it’s a (Henry) Urrutia or whether it’s a (Jonathan) Schoop. I could name five or six other players. That’s something they’ve been made very aware of, and it’s great to have an example up here of what we’re talking about and how it impacts games every night.
“It creates a great environment to bring young players into that there’s more parts to the game than just swinging the bat, especially up here and especially in our division. The ball stays in the ballpark, you want to get some leather on it. It’s not always keeping a ball from being a hit. It’s like if you throw well and a guy doesn’t advance from first to third, or whether it’s pitchers being quick to the plate, which keeps them from moving up 90 feet.
“You’ve heard me talk a lot that the game is played in 90-foot increments. Home runs are fine, but over the course of a season, the things you can do offensively and defensively - and that’s a lot of different facets - to keep 90 feet from happening is what separates teams.”
Showalter expects his pitchers to field their position.
“Bud (Norris) is a good defender, Wei-Yin (Chen) is a good defender, Miguel (Gonzalez) is a good defender,” Showalter said. “(Chris) Tillman has very quietly turned into a pretty good defender. A lot of it is because of the emphasis you put on it.”
In the minors, game reports include notations on how the starters held runners and performed defensively.
“Players feed off of that,” Showalter said. “They say, ‘Hey, we’re getting evaluated on this.’ Another reason we like (Kevin) Gausman is he can really field his position. There are some guys who are challenged with it and you see the extra emphasis. They start working on it. We have sessions - you all have seen it - where we bring guys out early and go over some stuff that they need to do.
“There’s a play that we really attacked this spring on the swinging bunt, pull bunt to the first base line, about pitchers’ responsibilities, and it’s saved us 90 feet maybe 10 times this year because of the way the pitchers have attacked that play. We didn’t do it in Boston last time in the ninth inning, which almost cost us the game.”
Dickerson, 31, batted .245/.274/.412 in 46 games with the Orioles earlier this season. He was designated for assignment on July 19, cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment.
Liddi, 25, batted .222/.269/.378 in 49 games for the Tides after being acquired from Seattle on July 6.
The Orioles have 34 players on their expanded roster.