Today a bit of a follow up to yesterday’s article about how the Orioles’ 2022 draft class fared so well in stats like walk rate and on-base percentage. This is important because for years the Orioles at the big-league level have not excelled in these stats.
At the MLB level, the Orioles last year posted a walk-rate of 7.9 percent per plate appearance, which was just under the MLB average of 8.2. The Orioles rated seventh in the American League and 16th in MLB in team walk rate for last season. In terms of OBP, the Orioles number of .305 was below the major league average of .312. The O’s rated 11th in the AL and 22nd in MLB in OBP last year. So, there is room for improvement.
With the ’22 draft class producing a collective .400 OBP for nine position players, which was second among all 2022 MLB Draft classes and a walk rate of 17.3, ranking first in the majors, the future on offense for Birdland, could be bright.
At least the Orioles could be evolving into producing a future lineup that features a group of tough outs that can work counts and will take a walk. Keep escalating opponent pitch counts and turning over the batting order. It should lead to more runs being scored.
Seeing so many young players get off to good starts in the plate-discipline stats, led by 18-year-old Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 overall draft pick last summer, was encouraging. The kid recorded a .489 OBP with a 27.8 walk rate in his debut pro season.
But several others also showed strong OBPs in a somewhat small sample with Jud Fabian at .455, Dylan Beavers .438, Douglas Hodo .397 and Silas Ardoin along with Adam Retzbach at .394.
And we should keep in mind that all 2022 draftees on all teams had a small sample size of playing time after the draft. And in comparing those groups, the Orioles wound up first in MLB in walk rate and second (to Seattle at .405) in OBP.
We should keep in mind also that the Orioles 2021 draft class also featured some strong OBP players. In fact, the top pick in that class, outfielder Colton Cowser, has a .422 career OBP for his two seasons of pro ball. Some other high picks from that class have solid to quite good two-year OBP career numbers with Connor Norby at .364, Reed Trimble .326, John Rhodes .357 and Donta Williams at .374.
And also, some young Orioles signed via the international amateur market have done well in this area. To mention just one high profile player, outfielder Braylin Tavera, age 17 from the Dominican Republic posted a .411 OBP and 19.5 walk rate last season in the Dominican Summer League.
In January of 2022, the O’s signed Tavera to a $1.7 million dollar bonus, the largest they have ever given an international amateur player. And some young players in that DSL showed some solid plate discipline and I will have more on the international players in a later posting here.
By the way, especially at higher levels, the Orioles did well on the farm in plate discipline stats last year. For the 2022 season, Triple-A Norfolk led the International League in walks (663) and ranked fourth in the 20-team league with a .344 OBP. At Double-A Bowie, the Baysox were first in walks (558) and first in OBP at .342. High-A Aberdeen was sixth in its league in OBP at .332 and Low-A Delmarva was seventh at .335.
In addition to that, on the Orioles’ roster from 2022 featuring players with 100 or more plate appearances, the top four players in walk rate were rookies. Adley Rutschman led the way at 13.8, followed by Gunnar Henderson at 12.1, Terrin Vavra 11.7 and Tyler Nevin 10.9.
So, the O’s seem to have a wave of young talent that scores well in some of these areas. They have been pumping such talent into their farm system since Mike Elias and his front office staff took over. We saw great examples of this with that 2022 draft class. And at the MLB level, the O’s best players for walk rate are rookies and young players.
Their offense with this young group seems to be changing from one featuring too much swing and miss to one that can work the count and take a walk. And get on base at a better than league average rate.
The Orioles next five years on offense could look very different than the last five.