Checking in with some facts, stats and opinions

It is getting closer to the time to start a new baseball season in Baltimore. But that doesn't stop me - lover of stats as you know - from still presenting some numbers from last season.

Good start, remember?: The Orioles began last season going 4-0 and 6-1. In those first four games, they gave up just one run in each contest. According to Elias, that tied a major league record of four consecutive wins to start a season while allowing no more than one run in each game, previously set by the 1915 Phillies, 1991 White Sox and 2007 Mets. At the end of the 6-1 start, the O's team ERA was 2.00.

Good finish, remember?: Most fans remember that last game win against Boston, but did you remember that the Orioles went 11-6 over the last 17 games, all against playoff or playoff contending teams? Of the Orioles last 23 games, 15 were decided by two or fewer runs and the club went 10-5 in those games.

It was a start: Six Orioles made major league debuts in 2011. They were Ryan Adams, Matt Angle, Zach Britton, Blake Davis, Kyle Hudson and Zach Phillips.

Quick to 10: Jake Arrieta picked up his 10th win July 26, becoming the first O's pitcher to get to 10 wins during the month since Erik Bedard in 2007. His offense gave him a hand in those wins and his 6.86 runs per game was the third-best run support in the majors behind Texas' Derek Holland (7.64) and Boston's Tim Wakefield (6.95)

Now there are three: J.J. Hardy hit a career-high 30 homers, becoming the third Orioles shortstop to hit 30 in a season, joining Cal Ripken (1991) and Miguel Tejada (2004).

J.J. and Mark: Hardy and teammate Mark Reynolds were two of the top home run hitters in Majoe League Baseball last year from June 1 to the end of the regular season. Reynolds led all players with 30 in that time. Dan Uggla was second with 29 while Hardy tied Albert Pujols for third with 28.

Sun and lights: The Orioles were a little better team last year playing under the lights than during the day, with a winning percentage of .430 in the evening and .416 during the day. They scored 4.4 runs per game at night and 4.3 in the daytime.

Too many gopher balls: Brian Matusz gave up 18 homers in just 49 2/3 innings pitched for the O's last year. He gave up, on average, 3.26 homers every nine innings pitched, which was the highest rate in ML history for a pitcher making 10 or more starts. He allowed just 1.2 homers per every nine innings in 2009 and 1.0 in 2010.

Had a good year: Adam Jones, who was voted Most Valuable Oriole for 2011, hit much better versus right-handed pitchers last season. He batted .295 with an OPS of .829 against right-handers and and hit .242 with a .665 OPS against southpaws. Jones had an identical OPS of .785 both before and after the All-Star break. His favorite inning to hit was probably the fifth when his OPS was 1.175 and it was 1.014 in the sixth inning.

Slow start, fast finish: Reliever Jim Johnson lowered his ERA from 5.14 to 2.67 over his final 56 games, during which he pitched to a 2.22 ERA. He gave up three homers in his first 11 games and none over the next 46 games and 63 1/3 innings. In 37 home games during 2011, Johnson pitched to an ERA of 1.97 with a .203 batting average against and ground-to-air out ratio of 2.69.

If you are looking for an optimistic note for this weekend, this one comes from national writer Jon Heyman, who wrote via Twitter yesterday:

"Scouts are saying arrieta and matusz have been impressive this spring, which is a huge plus for the #orioles."

It seems that often fans seek the validation of the national media and love when they praise their own players. Heyman did there.

Last but not least today here is MLBTradeRumors.com's recent look at the Orioles offseason. Feel free to comment on their thoughts on this blog and/or leave any other Orioles questions or comments you have on any topics.

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