Ubaldo Jimenez's surprising palatability, a rare off-night for Edwin Diaz, and more from Tuesday's slate of games.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The number that describes Ubaldo Jimenez’s performance as a starter this year is perhaps not one of his individual stats, but instead one of the Orioles’ collective ones—a team rotation DRA of 4.65. Baltimore’s starters have been the worst of any team with a winning record, and yet Jimenez struggled so greatly that he was deemed unfit even for them. After a month in the bullpen, however, Jimenez is back as a starter courtesy of Chris Tillman’s trip to the disabled list. And two outings in, his return to the rotation been remarkably not bad. By the standard he set as a starter earlier this year, remarkably good, even! (When that standard involves averaging fewer than five innings per game and putting up an ERA over 7, “remarkably good” is perhaps not so hard to come by, but regardless.)
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Exploring a hypothetical: What if Zach Britton, extreme batted-ball outlier, didn't strike anybody out?
Hypotheticals are fun. If they weren’t fun, nobody would put any time into thinking about them because, well, they’re hypothetical. Recently, hypothetical scenarios have gotten a lot of press, what with Lebron learning handball, and Tim Tebow figuring out how to waste the time of scouts.
It was that sort of thinking that led the BP Stats team down an interesting path on the afternoon of August 24th. The question at the heart of the matter was equal parts absurd and vexing:
Dylan Bundy's back! How long will this excellent story last?
On Aug. 1, 2012, an Orioles front office executive with a BP subscription would have seen two Baltimore prospects in the top five on Kevin Goldstein’s midseason top 50. Manny Machado was fifth. Dylan Bundy was third. It was a good time to be Baltimore, especially after Machado debuted a week later, and Bundy six weeks after that.
Every year the Orioles win and every year it's classified as a surprise, but maybe it shouldn't be.
One could make the argument that, nearing the halfway mark of the 2016 season, there are only two major (positive) surprise teams in baseball: the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles. The Rangers aren’t even that surprising; they’re having the kind of breakout season that makes the skepticism difficult to remember. The team is sequencing its runs like a crooked dealer, their touted young players like Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar are ready ahead of schedule, and the pitching staff ... okay, the pitching staff still doesn’t make any sense. But it wasn’t hard to conceive of a good Texas Rangers team, even if many experts chose not to.
Not so the Orioles. After leaping out of the gate with a seven-game winning streak, the club has since held at an 87-win pace, and enjoys one of the best records in baseball. Despite PECOTA treating them as a sub-.500 team going forward, their banked victories still give them a coin flip’s toss at the playoffs. Real or fake, they can’t be dismissed.
'I always chuckle when I hear someone say, 'We're on a five-year plan.' Look out. Somebody's just trying to cover their ass. We're on today.'
Buck Showalter was 28 years old when he got his first managerial gig in professional baseball, with the short-season Oneonta Yankees of the New York-Penn League in 1985. It took him just seven years to take over at the major-league level in New York, and he's now managed parts of 18 big-league seasons.
A year ago today, Francisco Lindor was recalled. Since (roughly) that day, the position has gone from a dead spot to historically great.
Eleven months ago Alcides Escobar was voted into the All-Star game as the AL’s starting shortstop. Escobar is an oft-praised defender with plus speed on a Royals team that was coming off a World Series loss and headed for a World Series win, but he also ended the first half with a modest .699 OPS and finished the season with a .614 OPS that nearly matched his .636 career mark through age 28. Alcides Escobar, All-Star starting shortstop just seemed a little lofty.
Royals fans stuffed the ballot box so much that second baseman Omar Infante and his .555 OPS nearly got voted into the game as well, but in Escobar’s case the story wasn’t so much about an undeserved selection as no other AL shortstops standing out as clearly deserving. In other words, don’t blame Escobar or Royals fans for his being in the starting lineup alongside the biggest stars in the league. None of the AL shortstops had an OPS above .750 at the All-Star break. The chosen backup was light-hitting Jose Iglesias, another glove-first player whose career OPS is .680.
Eleven months later, the AL’s shortstop landscape has changed so dramatically that the position as a whole has a higher collective OPS (.709) than Escobar had at the time of the All-Star break last year (.699) and Escobar has been the worst-hitting shortstop in the entire league. Xander Bogaerts is hitting .359/.405/.527 for the Red Sox. Manny Machado, who shifted from third base to shortstop following J.J. Hardy’s foot injury, is hitting .308/.376/.600 for the Orioles. Francisco Lindor, who made his debut exactly one year ago today, is hitting .304/.360/.450 for the Indians. Carlos Correa, the reigning Rookie of the Year, is hitting .256/.351/.423 for the Astros.
Manny Machado and Yordano Ventura take swings, Adam Duvall takes bigger swings, and Julio Urias finally does okay.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Trying to come up with a lede for a section about Tuesday night’s fracas between Manny Machado and Yordano Ventura is like trying to herd angry wolverines. Any attempt at humor will fall flat. What’s important is that what happened in Baltimore was stupid. Flat-out stupid.