Talking Orioles with Daniel Moroz of Camden Crazies


April 23, 2013|By Matt Vensel | The Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore sports scene is blessed with a bunch of talented bloggers who bring their unique perspective to the conversation. Each week, I hope to chat with one of them in a regular feature called Blogger on Blogger. This week, I exchanged emails with Daniel Moroz, who blogs about the Orioles for his blog, Camden Crazies.

MV: Why hasn’t Jake Arrieta developed into the pitcher the Orioles hoped he would become, and at this point, is there anything more they can do as an organization to help him get the most out of his talent?

DM: When Arrieta is on, he looks so good (the 70 percent of his innings that aren't train wrecks are mighty fun to watch). The stuff is there -- and his increasing strikeout rate is testament to that (it's gone from 4.7 K/9 to 7.0 to 8.6 to 9.5 so far this season). The command and control can sometimes leave him though, and that can result in not only walks but sometimes pitches left out over the plate. I thought maybe he had gotten somewhat of a handle on that issue last year when his walk rate dropped from over four BB/9 to under three, but this year it's up over seven. You can't be successful in the majors doing that, no matter how good a fastball or breaking-ball you have. I'm unclear based on what the team has said whether they think it's mechanical or emotional or both or what.

Interestingly, FanGraphs says Jake is actually throwing a career-high (and better than league average) proportion of his pitches in the strike zone this year, but batters are just not swinging as often (especially at pitches out of the zone). The walks have sometimes come in bunches -- he has walked three in an inning twice and two twice as well, accounting for 10 of the 16 free passes he's handed out -- so maybe it does get in his head when things start to snowball or maybe he just loses him arm slot more often. Or it may be a small-sample-size thing and he's just bad at it (career four BB/9) instead of atrocious. Hopefully the team figures it out.

I (still) think a quality major league starter is in there somewhere, and hopefully the trip to Triple-A will help Jake discover him. Given that he's always been more effective against righties than lefties, maybe moving him to the bullpen turns him into Pedro Strop (not a dissimilar pitcher). If he can't right the ship this season, I think that's what'll be coming.

MV: What has been the difference with Chris Davis this season?

DM: Davis has cut down on chasing pitches out of the strike zone and upped his contact rate, which is a pretty good combo when you're so ridiculously strong (it's to the point where now I expect all balls that look like cans of corn off the bat to end up five rows deep). Even ignoring the three intentional walks he's already received, he's posting an above-average walk rate while also cutting his strikeouts down from really high to league average. The more often he gets to make solid contact with the ball, the more often the ball is going to be seen leaving his bat with great force (which ups not only his homer total, but keeps the batting average solid despite the strikeouts).

He's certainly not going to hit .391/.474/.828 the whole season, but if his plate discipline holds, then him hitting .285/.365/.570 from here on out is not completely impossible (that would make his overall 2013 numbers about .300/.380/.600 which, you know, is still pretty good). Have to give Davis a ton of credit for really making the most of the opportunity the O's gave him. I didn't think he'd even do what he did last year, but he made me a believer (to an extent). I also want to mention that he's gone from maybe the worst first baseman I've ever seen at scooping throws to not the worst, which helps too.

On a perhaps humorous note, the Deputy might have surpassed the Sheriff, but the latter is still batting .283/.371/.700 for Cleveland. Mark Reynolds leaves town and mashes, and no one in Baltimore seems to even care with what Davis is doing.

On a "that can't have been real life" note, Chris Davis' current batting line (his wOBA to be exact) would have only been the fourth-best season of Barry Bonds' career.

MV: The O’s finally got some production out of the designated hitter spot over the weekend. Should the lack of production simply be disregarded as a small sample size or is there reason for concern?

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