O’s aim to raise bar for defense
Play in field not up to level that helped club succeed in recent years, Showalter says
Behind a pitching staff whose 25,199 pitches this year were the most in baseball, the Orioles defense is plenty taxed by the sheer amount of work a rotation with a middling strikeout rate and some frustratingly long innings provided it.
And as the season wore down, manager Buck Showalter made it clear that the defense — in some cases individually, but mostly as a whole — wasn’t up to the level that had helped the Orioles succeed in recent years.
“Obviously, we’ve got to improve on the starting pitching,” Showalter said last month. “That falls under Captain Obvious, and I think we’ve taken a step back defensively, really, the last year or two at some places. I think we need to get that back in order — especially with a pitching staff that didn’t strike out that many people. That’s not going to change overnight. That’s something we were really good at, and I thought it kept us from playing a home game in the playoffs last year.
“I think we’ve dropped our guard a bit defensively. I really do. We try to make a point of emphasis, and I think we’ve kind of lowered our standards in a couple of areas.”
As a team, the Orioles tied for 20th in baseball with -17 defensive runs saved,
Orioles shortstop Paul Janish was part of an infield whose defense dropped off significantly this past season.