A look at some rotation stats, plus a Navarro note and Reyes ranked

If you read this blog daily, first of all, thanks. Second of all, you know by reading the comments that fans do worry. They worry a lot.

Right now, Orioles fans are worried about a starting rotation that ranked 14th in the American League last year with an ERA of 4.53. That was one season after the O's starting pitcher ERA ranked fifth in the AL at 3.61 and the club won 96 games and the AL East championship.

Yes, pitching is pretty important.

It is just one writer's opinion, but USA Today took a shot at ranking the starting rotations throughout the majors as of now. Of course, changes can and will occur.

But the Cubs are No. 1 in this ranking, followed by the Mets, Nationals, Indians and Cardinals. The Orioles come in last among American League East teams and 13th among AL teams at No. 24 overall. In fact, no team in the division is in the top 12, with Boston at No. 13, Tampa Bay No. 14, New York No. 15 and Toronto No. 20.

tillman-pitching-black-alcs.jpgOnce again, this is just an opinion and nothing to get too worked up about. It makes for interesting reading, and we all know the rotation must be better this season or the Orioles likely won't be.

Like many of you, I think starting pitching is critical, probably the biggest factor in how a team does over a 162-game season. In the postseason, a team can ride one dominant pitcher like the Giants did with Madison Bumgarner in 2014.

But in looking at some stats, I was surprised by what I discovered. For instance, three of the five AL playoff teams last year ranked 10th or lower in rotation ERA in the league. Houston was No. 2 and Toronto No. 5, but New York was No. 10, Texas No. 11 and Kansas City No. 12. Yes, 11 AL teams and 21 in the majors had a better rotation ERA than the world champions.

No one recommends that as the formula to win and it would seem unlikely a rotation ERA ranking that low could end up with so much team success. But here is another stat I found unusual. I looked at the last 10 World Series-winning teams and found they ranked 10th or worse in their respective league in rotation ERA as many times (three) as they rated fourth or better:

2006: St. Louis Cardinals (12th in NL)
2007: Boston Red Sox (2nd in AL)
2008: Philadelphia Phillies (7th in NL)
2009: New York Yankees (5th in AL)
2010: San Francisco Giants (2nd in NL)
2011: St. Louis Cardinals (8th in NL)
2012: San Francisco Giants (5th in NL)
2013: Boston Red Sox (4th in AL)
2014: San Francisco Giants (10th in NL)
2015: Kansas City Royals (12th in AL)

So three times in the last five years, the World Series winner rated no better than eighth in its league in rotation ERA. That is surprising to me. But, of course, while starting pitching is important, it is not everything. Offense, defense, bullpen and depth come into play, as well, among other factors.

So it can be done without a great or a top-rated starting rotation. But those fans that worry still would probably rather see some additions to the Orioles rotation all the same.

Navarro note: The Orioles acquired 29-year-old outfielder Efren Navarro yesterday for cash considerations from the Los Angeles Angels. While he joins the current group of outfielders on the 40-man roster, he also has an extensive and impressive defensive resume at first base.

In fact, Navarro was ranked by Baseball America as the best fielding first baseman in his league six times:

* In the Midwest League in 2008
* In the California League in 2009
* In the Texas League in 2010
* In the Pacific Coast League in 2011, 2012 and 2014

The Orioles certainly seem to be set at first base. They just re-signed Chris Davis and will likely have Trey Mancini and Christian Walker at Triple-A Norfolk in 2016. There is also the possibility that Korean first baseman Ji-Man Choi could be returned to the Orioles. He was taken from Baltimore by the Los Angeles Angels in the Rule 5 draft in December. The 24-year-old Choi was a career .302/.404/.481 hitter in five seasons in the Seattle Mariners' farm system. He was only in the O's organization for days after signing a minor league contract Nov. 24.

But the O's announced Navarro's addition as an outfielder. He becomes one of three lefty-hitting outfield bats on the 40-man roster along with Hyun Soo Kim and Henry Urrutia.

Navarro, who does have a minor league option remaining, has a minor league career slash line of .300/.365/.417 and a line of .246/.303/.324 in 256 major league at-bats. Navarro has hit .326 or better three straight years in Triple-A. He hit .253 in 83 at-bats with the Angels last year.

Reyes ranked: Orioles 18-year-old infield prospect Jomar Reyes has been ranked as the No. 9 third base prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com. Reyes was ranked as the Orioles' No. 10 prospect after the 2014 season by Baseball America and No. 4 after last year. Reyes hit .278 last summer for Single-A Delmarva in 84 games with five homers, 44 RBIs and a .774 OPS. He was rated by Baseball America as the No. 18 prospect in the Gulf Coast League for 2014 and the No. 13 prospect in the South Atlantic League for 2015. He is expected to move to Single-A Frederick for the 2016 season.

More on L.J. Hoes and Kevin Gausman's third pitch
Orioles acquire outfielder Efren Navarro from Ange...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/