It is one of the failings of the 2017 Orioles. They are one of the worst road teams in the American League this year and it cost the team. Had an Orioles club that went 46-35 at home this season won the same percentage of road games, they’d be a 92-win team. That would be enough wins to host the wild card game and also keep the team in the hunt in an AL East led by Boston, which currently has 92 wins.
But the Orioles, while going 11 games over .500 at home, are 20 games under on the road. The 46-35 home record is tied for fifth best in the league. The 29-49 road mark is 12th in the AL.
Why the big disparity? Good question. One that may lead to various theories, but few concrete answers.
Here are some home/road stats:
* The team slash line is .268/.323/.460 at home and .255/.303/.417 on the road.
* The team averages 4.88 runs per game at home and 4.42 on the road.
* The team hits 1.67 homers/game at home and 1.24 on the road.
* The team ERA is 4.60 at home and 5.33 on the road.
Individually, some players hit much better at home. Welington Casillo bats .304 with a .929 home OPS, and those numbers are .263/.706 on the road. Manny Machado hits .288/.895 at home and .232/.676 on the road.
Trey Mancini is a rarity: a player with better numbers on the road. He bats .281/.793 at home and hits .307/.867 on the road.
The Orioles have had a losing road record for three straight seasons, since the 96-win 2014 AL East champs went 50-31 at home and 46-35 away from the Yard.
The 2015 Orioles won 81 games, going 47-31 at home and 34-50 on the road. In 2016 the Orioles won 89 games, going 50-31 at Oriole Park and 39-42 away from Camden Yards.
So since the 2015 season, the Orioles are a combined 102-141 (.420) in road games. That is a pace to win 68 games over a full season. From 2012 to 2014, when the Orioles made the playoffs twice, they went 131-112 (.539) on the road. That is a pace to win 87 games over a full season.
If you rank the Orioles this year in home and road stats against the rest of the American League, the bigger difference is on offense. Mainly because the team was not good in pitching stats either home or road, ranking 12th in the AL in ERA and WHIP at home and 14th in both on the road.
At home the Orioles rank fifth in batting average, second in homers and sixth in runs. On the road they rank sixth in average, ninth in homers and 11th in runs.
I recently asked Mark Trumbo why the Orioles record on the road was so much worse this year?
“It is weird. I think everyone approaches each game the same,” he said. “It is not that we have a huge advantage playing here or big disadvantage playing there. It’s a baseball game. I think it is one of those weird things that you can’t point to anything specific. But we have to be better. You don’t want that huge discrepancy.”
I floated a theory by Trumbo, one that goes this way: The Orioles, as a homer-hitting team, are more suited to hit in Camden Yards. Since they have to produce runs in other ways more often on the road, they don’t fare as well.
“I think home-run hitting teams generally, in most parks, still play pretty well. Especially with guys here that can drive it out of any park. I don’t ... I know that some of these teams have a little bit of a different look than us at times. Some teams are putting a premium on younger, faster, more explosive types. Those teams are out there. But a lot of times when we are hitting the homers, they probably wish they were doing that too. It probably goes both ways,” he said.
So what is your take? Why did the Orioles fare so much better in 2017 at Oriole Park?