Pitching, Defense, Three-Run Homers: How do the current Orioles stack up?
July 10, 2013
Pitching, defense, and three-run homers. It's a phrase synonymous with Earl Weaver and the Orioles franchise he helped make great. Does it still apply?
Clearly, the O's pitching isn't anywhere near the level of those Weaver-led teams.
Defense is another story. Tbe emergence of Manny Machado and the resurgence of Nate McLouth have helped make defense a Baltimore trademark once more. The O's have the fewest errors in the majors and baseball's best overall fielding percentage.
What about those three-run homers?
First, let's establish the baseline. Weaver took the Orioles helm in 1968 and managed his first full season in 1969. The O's went to three consecutive World Series from 1969 to 1971, winning one. During that period, their percentage of three-run homers increased each season before dropping in 1972.
Here's the breakdown:
1969: 175 home runs, 20 three-run homers, 11.4 percent of total
1970: 179 home runs, 22 three-run homers, 12.2 percent of total
1971: 158 home runs, 22 three-run homers, 13.9 percent of total
1972: 100 home runs, 11 three-run homers, 11 percent of total
The Orioles set the current team record for home runs in 1996 when they hit 257, 24 of which were of the three-run variety. That works out to nine percent. The following year, the O's totaled 196 home runs, 18 of which were three-run homers. Again, that's nine percent.
So two of the best Orioles teams of recent vintage, including the heaviest-hitting outfit, fell off the Weaver pace for three-run homers and dipped below the 10 percent level.
Under Buck Showalter, the O's are closer to living up to Earl's three-run homer legacy. Here's a breakdown of the three years when Buck has started the season as O's manager.
2011: 191 home runs, 21 three-run homers, 10.9 percent of total
2012: 214 home runs, 25 three-run homers, 11.6 percent of total
2013: 121 home runs, 14 three-run homers, 11.5 percent of total
So three-run homers are back in fashion in Baltimore, as is defense. Now if we could only get that pitching in order.