There is no doubt that team on-base percentage is one offensive stat where the Orioles need to improve. Their .313 mark last year - which actually ranked just ahead of their .311 mark in 2012 - was behind the league average of .320.
Boston led the American League in team OBP at .349 and Detroit was second at .346. The O’s were fourth in the league in runs scored, but 10th in OBP and, moving forward, that stat needs to improve.
Will that improvement need to come from players who are not currently part of the organization? Not surprisingly, manager Buck Showalter, as he did when talking pitching, first took a look at his current roster.
“The way I look at it is maybe trying to improve what we have. There are points of emphasis each spring and I think we reached three out of five. I’d like to do all five,” Showalter said.
“Some of the things in the spring you start. Does one person do that? Maybe it’s Brian Roberts, just being there all the time and kind of showing something like that. Maybe it’s Nicky (Markakis) getting back a little bit to what he’s capable of.
“Would we even be talking about some of that if our pitching was a lot better? I know where we ranked in starting pitching. When we figure that part out, the conversation will diminish. But I’d be talking about it, too. It is something we have to get better at if we are going to offset pitching that. ... Let’s face it, Boston is seven starters deep and they are paying accordingly. What do they have, $80 or $90 million in seven pitchers? And I’d do the same if I were them.”
There is evidence that the O’s current group of players can get better here. Six of the eight O’s regulars had an OBP in 2013 that was under their career mark heading into the season.
Here are some players’ OBP stats and their career numbers on opening day 2013, with the 2013 stat listed first.
Matt Wieters: .287 and .328
Chris Davis: .370 and .310
Brian Roberts: .312 and .351
J.J. Hardy: .306 and .314
Manny Machado: .314 and .294
Nate McLouth: .329 and .335
Adam Jones: .318 and .323
Nick Markakis: .329 and .365
Jones gets criticized for his lack of walks, but his OBP exceeded that of Machado, Hardy, Roberts and Wieters. Jones was a player Showalter talked about when asked whether the current players can do better here or are just what they are in that regard.
“Adam has such great pride. I feel like I can say anything to him and he can say anything to me. There has never been a perfect player,” Showalter said. “I got it. It is hard to do. It got away from us a little bit this year, I think, sometimes. Our guys are such good hitters, for the most part, that they get themselves out more than pitchers get them out, but they’re doing that in the World Series.
“Pitchers make a living getting you out outside of the strike zone and they understand tendencies. Adam wants to drive in runs. He wants to do what we need doing. I think we have to get a little bit of the pass the baton mentality back.”
Wieters’ previous low OBP before last season was .319 and Machado has not yet approached his career minor league OBP of .344 or the mark of .352 he posted at Double-A Bowie in 2012.
“I don’t know if runs scored was a problem,” Showalter said of the big picture. “I don’t know if it’s being picky (questioning team OBP). I don’t think it is. We are all trying to get it better.
“I’m not going to tell you all my points of emphasis right now, but one of them is we have do a better job of not having to have our closer come in the game. We had games that were 5-3 and we had bases loaded with one out and it should have gone to 7-3 or 8-3.
“That took away from some of Jimmy’s (Johnson) effectiveness because he had to pitch in so many games. What did he appear in, three or four games that weren’t save situations all year? Some of that is starting pitching and some is us having to pass the load around.”