Zach Wilt: Baseball is a funny game

I’m sure you’ve heard people say “baseball is a funny game.” It’s typically the cliche saying that fans throw out when they can’t explain the outcome of the three-hour sporting event they dedicate their life to over the course of 162 days between April and September. For me, that inexplicable nature is part of the reason I love this game so much. Though, I can certainly understand it driving some people absolutely bonkers.

On Tuesday night, the Texas Rangers clobbered the Houston Astros with 16 runs on 14 hits. Meanwhile, at Camden Yards, the Orioles scored just three runs on 15 hits. “Funny” probably wouldn’t be the adjective most fans in Baltimore would use to describe the O’s 4-3 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays. “Frustrating,” “baffling” or “disappointing” may have been better descriptions.

With Tuesday’s loss, the Orioles fell to 14-22 in one-run games, which is “funny” because in 2012, they finished 29-9 in games decided by one-run. You can’t predict baseball.

The Birds left 15 runners on base and went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position in last night’s loss. While many have panicked and wondered what happened to the the Orioles’ once-powerful offense, the statistics show that Tuesday was much more of an anomaly when compared to the rest of the season.

In 2013, the Orioles have left an average of 6.51 runners on base per game. That’s the fifth-fewest in Major League Baseball. They stranded 6.33 runners per game in 2012, which makes their one-run record even more “funny.”

With runners in scoring position, the Orioles remain one of the most dangerous offenses in baseball. Their .277 team batting average with RISP is third-highest in the league behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers. The O’s have posted a .451 team slugging percentage and .787 team OPS with runners on second and/or third (both third-highest in baseball).

Baltimore’s offense has the highest team batting average with the score tied (.289). Their .423 slugging percentage since the All-Star break is second-highest behind the Tigers. They are also tied with the Twins for the league lead in home runs in August (24).

No matter how many offensive categories you break down, the numbers say the same thing - the Orioles offense is one of the strongest aspects of their game and one of the best in Major League Baseball. Tuesday night may have been “funny” or “frustrating,” but it doesn’t tell the full story of the 2013 Orioles.

It’s easy to forget that David Price is one of the best pitchers in the game right now. Price was the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, wins leader and ERA champion. His 2.28 ERA since the All-Star break is top 20 among starters. Not surprisingly, Price has stranded 75 percent of the runners he puts on base this season.

The critics are right - the Orioles won’t win many games when they strand 15 runners on base, but they also won’t lose many games in which their offense records 15 hits. Both, however, are far from the norm. The O’s won’t always face one of the best pitchers in the game and Matt Wieters won’t always miss a home run by six inches.

I guess that’s what makes this game so darn “funny.”

Zach Wilt blogs about the Orioles at Baltimore Sports Report. His views appear here as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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