Both teams are off to great starts. As of today, the Nats trail the Braves by a half and Baltimore has a 1 game edge on TB. Both are surprising and I don’t think any baseball fan could say with a straight face that they could have predicted their success this early.
In comparing the two I just don’t see a real advantage either way. Both teams have a defined plan although Washington and GM Mike Rizzo has more of an established direction since he’s been in place for 6 years. Dan Duquette is just starting out, but he should be credited with some of Boston’s 2004 World Series win. He acquired Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon and Pedro and
traded for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe…all vital parts.
So the plans are set and since the teams have almost identical records let’s match them up.
Starting pitching….no contest. The Nats are tops in baseball in ERA, Baltimore is 10th and keep in mind that AL ERAs are always higher than NL, but Washington is currently at 2.73 and they also lead the majors in opponents batting, strikeouts, runs allowed and earned runs allowed. In other words, they are dominating the league.
The Orioles starting pitching has been a pleasant surprise adding Wei Chen and Jason Hammel, but Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz have elevated ERAs near 6. This will continue. Strassy is better than all 5 Oriole starters combined.
The bullpens are both good, but Baltimore has the best bullpen in baseball at 10-3 and 2.13 ERA. I know, it sounds like I am making numbers up. It surprised me too. The one negative is that Buck Showalter has thrown his pen for 135 innings, 2nd most in baseball. That can’t continue, but it will because the rotation will soon be below average. BTW, Jim Johnson is the best closeer in the AL and it’s not even close. He’s got 12 saves, .54 ERA and a WHIP of .78 and he missed 6 games with the flu. HRod has been a disaster at times, especially on the road.
So the pitching is split. Defensively, not close. Baltimore is awful. They have 38 errors in 39 games, 3rd worst in baseball. Their fielding % is 10 points below the league average, but most of the blame is placed on the corners. Mark Reynolds and Wilson Betemit are an 8 car pile-up at 3rd. 12 errors combined. Chris Davis ain’t great at first and when Davis DHs who do you think moves to first? Marky Mark. Robert Andino has had his issues at 2nd and the left field position is unstable. Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Weiters are all fantastic so it’s not all lost.
Just by comparison, Washington has just 24 errors and that’s with replacement corner outfielders right now.
Offensively, The Orioles are better by 10 miles, no question. JJ Hardy would probably lead the Nats in bombs, Jones will hit 30 or more, so will Weiters. The Nats will be lucky to have one. The O’s lead all of baseball in home runs and they are 7th in runs scored , the Nats are 26th in runs and have just 34 homers. Baltimore has better on base and slugging numbers. Neither team
The Nats have the edge in the phenoms. Bryce Harper has made an immediate impact, both, at the plate and in the field, although I will be surprised if he hits 220 and he may go back to Syracuse when Morse and Werth come back. The Oriole phenom is a pitcher and he’s also 19. His numbers are stupid good at Delmarva, but we won’t see him for at least a year.
Managers…it’s a wash in my eyes. Both are very good with over 1000 wins each, but Davey has the ring.
I guess we will see who the better team is when they face each other 6 times. I bet 3-3.