March 12, 2001
The Daily Prospectus
Being Bad Birds
Last week, I received a note from one of our readers, Peter Simon:
Is there any chance this year's Orioles will be the worst offensive team ever, compared to league averages? I haven't done any statistical research of my own on it, but just looking at their lineup, things look bleak for them.
The Orioles weren't going to be relevant this year even before the career-ending injury to Albert Belle, but the loss of the team's best player certainly didn't help their outlook. Here's the Orioles projected lineup, along with their projected Equivalent Average from Baseball Prospectus 2001:
C: Brook Fordyce .250 1B: David Segui .288 2B: Jerry Hairston .244 SS: Mike Bordick .243 3B: Cal Ripken .245 LF: Delino DeShields .258 CF: Melvin Mora .228 RF: Brady Anderson .270 DH: Chris Richard .252 UT: Jeff Conine .251
That's unimpressive, even if Belle's projected .297 EqA had been in the mix. The Orioles aren't that young for a team that's supposed to be rebuilding, and their few young players aren't very good. That said, they have no terrible players, no one as bad as the 2000 version of Vinny Castilla in the lineup.
So I was prepared to let Peter know that the Orioles wouldn't even be special in their badness. First, though, I asked Clay Davenport for his perspective:
Even with the loss of Belle, I don't think things look any worse for the current O's than it did for, say, the Twins in recent years. Of course, the 1999 Twins make the list of 10 worst teams since 1950. I have the O's ranked about 8 points of EqA behind everyone else in the AL, projecting a .246 for them.
So to answer your question, Peter, the Orioles don't look to reach the depths of the worst offenses on the past decade or two.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by clicking here.