If the Orioles want to challenge the big boys in the American League East, their best chance may be to win the arms race.
While I keep hearing the O’s need a big bat or two to add to their lineup, didn’t we just get yet another strong lesson that it’s more about the pitching.
The San Francisco Giants finished ninth this year in the regular season in runs scored in the National League. They finished first in team ERA.
The Giants won the World Series during a postseason where they averaged just 3.9 runs per game. The Orioles, in finishing next to last this season in runs in the AL, averaged 3.8 runs per game.
I am almost always against trading young pitching prospects and maybe the Giants again showed why we all should feel that way. Heck, maybe the O’s showed why late in the year when they went 34-23 under Buck. They did that with a poor offense but stellar pitching.
The message is clear. You can beat anyone, even the best in baseball, easier by shutting them down on the mound then out-slugging them at the dish.
During this year’s playoffs, Jim Thome went 1 for 10 at bat, Alex Rodriguez 7 for 32, Mark Teixeira 4 for 27, Nick Swisher 6 for 34, Carl Crawford 3 for 21 and Evan Longoria 4 for 20.
The Texas Rangers hit .255 as a team during the playoffs. That was the best average by any team in October. Here is the full list of team batting averages this post-season.
.255 - Texas
.241 - New York
.237 - San Francisco
.216 - Minnesota
.215 - Philadelphia & Tampa
.175 - Atlanta
.124 - Cincinnati
Four of the eight teams averaged under three runs per game during the playoffs with Tampa at 2.6, Minnesota 2.3, Atlanta 2.3 and Cincinnati at 1.3.
The Giants finished 6th in the NL in homers this year, 7th in team average and, as mentioned earlier, 9th in runs.
Their team home run leader in the regular season had 26 (Aubrey Huff) and the top RBI man had 86 (Huff again). Only one regular hit over .300 and that was Buster Posey at .305.
But in the playoffs, San Fran’s Matt Cain went 2-0, 0.00 while Madison Bumgarner was 2-0, 2.18 and Tim Lincecum went 4-1, 2.43. The Giants went 11-4 in the playoffs with a team ERA of 2.47.
I am not saying the O’s don’t need to add to their offense. They do. I have written before my feelings that you can win in the regular season and post-season without a 40-homer slugger.
A big time slugger would be nice but given the choice between an elite pitcher and hitter, I’ll take the arm. Given the choice between a top pitching staff and a high-scoring offense, I’ll take the pitchers.