Baltimore Orioles: Speed or brawn?
The former Baltimore Orioles’ team was all about power. That is until said power was seemingly zapped this year. Or in reality it was zapped starting in September of 2017. But I digress.
The baseball industry has been trending towards small ball for some time. I personally may not be as big a fan of it as some, however it’s certainly “a thing.” People are quick to throw out the examples of the Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, and even this year’s Tampa Rays as examples,
However with that said, power-hitting is still “a thing” also. The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers are all great examples of successful teams in the here and now – who are all about bashing their opponents to death. And notice that two of those are American League East teams.
So the question is where do the Orioles go as they rebuild? Do they focus on team speed and OBP? Take the get on base approach? Or do they look once again to power as a modus operandi to win games?
The answer has to lie smack in the middle. They do need to have more of a focus on just getting guys on base. The fact is that you never know what can happen when someone gets on base. He could swipe a bag, get to second on a wild pitch, etc. And yes, sometimes that additional pressure on the pitcher and defense is enough to cause a mistake that culminates in a run scoring.
However, the Orioles still compete in the American League East. There’s no division in which power has historically been more celebrated. And in reality it’s power whenever and in any manner possible or necessary. People point to Tampa’s success in 2018 as evidence for the fact that people like me are wrong. Maybe that’s true for al I know. However I just don’t see a team competing over a long period of time (let’s say five years plus) relying on next-to-no-power, along with freak plays. Again however, anything’s possible.
So perhaps the emphasis for the O’s moving forward should be on balance. If you commit yourself to balancing power and speed/OBP early in the rebuilding process, it’ll stick – PROVIDED that they have the right personnel in place. That’s the big part regardless of the strategy. But if you have balance, you’ll eventually be tough to stop.