Heath Bintliff: Orioles offense offers more of the same

Hello, MASNsports.com readers. My name is Heath Bintliff and I have been writing Dempsey’s Army, a Baltimore Orioles blog, since 2006. Although I grew up in Maryland, I now live in Atlanta and have been away from Maryland for 11 years. As you might imagine, there are not a lot of O’s fans down here in Georgia, so I needed an outlet for my Orioles thoughts and the blog was born. Dempsey’s Army offers statistical analysis, historical perspective, commentary, prospect watching and various “musings from the Oriole diaspora”. Come on over and check it out.

The Orioles spent much of the offseason addressing their lackluster offense. They brought in Mark Reynolds to replace Miguel Tejada, J.J. Hardy to replace Cesar Izturis and Derrek Lee to replace the dreadful Garret Atkins. To top it all off, they made a late signing of future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero to DH, which pushed Luke Scott, the club’s best hitter in 2010, into left field and the outstanding glove but suspect bat of Felix Pie to the bench.

So the offense should be much better, right? Right? Well...

The early returns are not promising. The 2010 Orioles offense was at its worst last April and April 2011 is even worse in terms of offensive production. Let’s take a closer look at the April 2010 offensive rate stats versus those of April 2011.

                        AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
April 2010     .242    .304   .373   .677
April 2011     .228    .280   .360   .640

Unbelievably, the team’s offense thus far is not only worse than it was in 2010, it is worse than it was at its lowest point in 2010.

Somehow, the team has actually been slightly better at scoring runs this April than it was last April (3.6 to 3.3 runs per game). How have the O’s managed that? They have been incredibly clutch. The league average for OPS with runners in scoring position is .703. The O’s have posted an eye-popping .946 OPS with RISP through 14 games. As bad as the offensive production has been, it could have been a lot worse.

Quite frankly, 6-8 is a pretty good record considering the anemic offense and the fact that the pitching is pretty much the same (4.55 ERA so far versus 4.63 ERA for April 2010).

So there is a silver lining, I suppose. The offense can’t possibly be this bad all season and up to this point, the team has still managed to hover just under the .500 mark.

Even better, the Orioles are beginning a four-game series at home against the Joe Mauer-less Minnesota Twins. Even before Mauer was injured, they were the worst offense in the league. It’s a good time to pick up a couple more wins while the Oriole bats find their level.

Heath Bintliff blogs about the Orioles at Dempsey’s Army. His ruminations about the Birds appear this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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