A New Oriole Way: All-Around Play, Moneyball, and Defense

According to the experts: The Baltimore Orioles were no better than a last place team this year. The media got fooled.

The Baltimore Orioles 1-0 and 5-3 wins versus the Mariners this weekend were pretty amazing feats with the team in tough situations. Further, the Orioles won the season series versus the Seattle Mariners with a -13 run differential.

Now here’s some food for thought for everyone: Prior to the start of the season, the Orioles were picked to finish last place in the division. Most experts stated that the team just didn’t have the hitting, pitching, much less even the defense to compete with the likes of the rest of the division as the rest of the league spent the money to improve. But so far, it doesn’t seem like the heavy spending approach to the season of the big-market teams has panned out.

The Orioles continue to spoil the national sports media’s hopes and dreams of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox leading the American League East by winning games through the New Oriole Way. (Win N.O.W.)

The Orioles were lambasted, laughed at, and given so much grief in the offseason for making “Band-aid” moves.

The team continues to prove the experts wrong in terms of doing everything they need to do to win ball games. In fact, according to Pythagorean win-loss metric, the Orioles are 65-53, yet the Orioles are 73-45 (8 games over). Didn’t Steve Phillips say after the team’s 24-13 start that: “The O’s are not even the second-best team in baseball, they are winning games that they don’t belong winning. They’ll be lucky to get the third wild-card spot!”

That’s correct Steve, we’re not the second-best team in the American League. The Orioles are the best team in the American League and quietly putting together a dream season that no one seemingly gives a care about because the media just wants the Orioles to just drop dead. The national media doesn’t see Baltimore as a huge draw for television. That is a LIE.

In 2014, with no Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees hogging the spotlight at every turn on the primary sports channels. The 2014 Major League Baseball Postseason was some of the most watched on record because there were new teams in the postseason tournament.

So let’s do a deep dive on the why we have a new “Oriole Way” of All-Around Play, Moneyball, Defense

The Metrics and All-Around Play

Orioles are beating teams with sub-.500 records at 26-9 and lead the league in most wins against teams over .500 with a 47-36 record.

While it is close to the Earl Weaver method of: “Pitching, Defense, and the 3-run homerun,” the Orioles have adapted Hyde’s method of “All-Around Play, Defense, and straight up money-ball.”

Orioles lead the league in situational success rate through bunting with an 85% mark.

The pitching, which has earned such disdain by the experts as well, have also been doing pretty amazing stuff as well. Orioles’ relief pitching has managed to leave more runners on base in high-danger situations (RISP at 2nd, 2 runners on, bases loaded, and less than 2 outs). They’ve managed to strand runners 93.6% of the time in high-danger situations with Mike Baumann, Felix Bautista, and Yennier Cano leading the charge.

Orioles starting pitching has been strangling the opposition scoring as well in high-danger situations with the opposition having lost 102 runs with could have translated into 30 additional losses for the O’s.

The Orioles have been staying within the .240-.250 range in terms of overall hitting, but they are seemingly getting timely hits better than any other team in the league and also getting the important sacrifice flies as well. The Orioles lead the majors in the high-danger average sabermetric. High-danger average means getting hits in perilous situations (1-2, 2-2, or 3-2 count with 2 out) and with runners aboard (2 men on or bases loaded). The Orioles are hitting .294 as a team in those situations. Adley Rutschman and Cedric Mullins are tied with a .332 average in those situations. Overall, the Orioles are hitting .276 with RISP.

Orioles are also hauling rear-end around the bases too, 3rd in the AL with 222 doubles and 21 triples. Cedric Mullins and Jorge Mateo are top 10 in the league in speed on the base pads.

Everyone is contributing in some way. As Jim Palmer said, “The Orioles won’t have a 100-RBI man or a 35+ homer guy but they won’t need that because everybody has been a contributing member of the line-up whether hitting, fielding, or pitching.”

The Defense

Orioles are number 1 in fielding at .989 right now and have committed a mere 47 errors. Cedric Mullins has made some exciting plays, taking away many homeruns from some of the game’s best hitters which gain the tip of the cap from the offense.

Orioles catching? Just 1 passed ball all season long.

Also, wild pitches defensed? Orioles are number 1 at keeping the opposition on the base pads and preventing them from scoring (26 runs saved, 19 game-winning runs saved (8th or later)).

Orioles have turned how many double plays? 102 (5th best).

How about double plays prevented while the Birds are on offense…? I think that’s pretty defensive to say the least. The Orioles offense has prevented 73 double plays with Rutschman leading the way with 33 DPs broken up via infield hits and fielder’s choices.

Orioles lead the league in prevented runs scored by the opposition with 107 runs lost by the opposition via double play or any kind of out to end the inning.

Moneyball tactics

Mike Elias has been constricted to a $70 million dollar payroll by ownership. Despite the restriction, Elias has been thrifty with the way he has been doing business with the team. He didn’t make any sexy transactions during the offseason except getting Kyle Gibson and trading for Ryan O’Hearn. Gibson has done alright and O’Hearn has actually been a gem for the Orioles since he’s arrived. Adam Frazier was signed from the Seattle Mariners and has been a defensive gem and offensively, he’s out there just smoking homeruns at key moments. Aaron Hicks was picked up after the Yankees released him and since then, he’s having more fun in Baltimore.

He acquired Flaherty and Fujinami through trades at the trade deadline but Angelos said: That’s it, no more.

I give Elias a lot of credit for doing such a great job organizing the roster the way it is right now.

But here’s my belief and I go along with what one other person said, “leave the personnel decisions to the general management, management, and anyone who has the control of the roster. Ownership just needs to run the operations of the team, sign the paychecks, and keep their hands off of the roster.” That’s the truth because while I do believe that ownership should have somewhat of a small voice in negotiations. Let general management handle the roster, the signing of players, and evaluating the market.

Finally, a juiced Minor League System

They say it takes bad seasons to make good ones and that’s the truth for the Baltimore Orioles from 2018-2021. As consistent losers, they had high draft picks. Mike Elias decided to revamp their player development system with the hiring of Matt Blood and promoting Brad Ciolek.

The Baltimore Orioles minor league system is now the envy of the league thanks to these high draft picks. Blood and Ciolek have been very piggish in their picks of draft picks, mostly because they’re looking for all the right tools in a player. The Orioles are also taking a page from the Baltimore Ravens scouting department of making sure that the player they draft has a “good personality and will stay out of trouble.”

A look at the players in the Minors

Jackson Holliday is already at Double-A Bowie and could potentially pull a “Nick Markakis” next year and be in the starting lineup. The key being this: If Holliday is given a low jersey number at Spring Training, then you know he’s going to be in the starting lineup for the year. I hope they allow him to wear number 7 because it was his dad’s number in the professional leagues.

Enrique Bradfield jr., a 2023 draftee of the Orioles has been doing well in his first handful of games. Drawing walks, stealing bases, and making pitchers balk.

Catcher Creed Willems is a stud in the making as he has 15 homeruns and 63 Runs batted in. He could be an established star in Baltimore or a blue-chip trade chip somewhere else.

Coby Mayo and Heston Kjerstad continue to mash the ball as well. Kjerstad should be in the starting lineup next year as well as Mayo.

Pitching has been a big question mark but Cade Povich and Chayce McDermott could be in the starting rotation soon with their strong stat lines.


The Orioles know what they are doing with the roster and they’re downplaying all the media critiques as nothing but noise. The media said they’d finish 74-88 this season, well they already have 73 wins, so… getting to 74 with 44 games to go won’t be an issue.

Can the O’s finish with 100 wins? It’s obtainable and possible. The O’s would have to win 27 in the final 44 to get there (27-17) and it’s doable.

Well? Let’s go O’s!

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Joshua Leuschner

Orioles/Ravens/Capitals/Terrapins/Inter Miami CF fan. Runs a podcast who tells it like it is (I-95 East Coast Sports Podcast) and loves sports, sports betting (responsibly of course), and finding arcane statistics in professional sports. He is also a devoted classic cartoon enthusiast (1930s rubberhose and 1940s-1960s silver/golden age animation), video game player, Enya enthusiast, devotee of classical music (Mozart, Sibelius, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and others), Hair/Classic/80s Rock fan, beer connoisseur, gym goer, former Slow Pitch Softball Player, and traveler.

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