At the All-Star break, the Orioles are 45-48 after 93 games. The team is last in the AL East behind the Blue Jays by one game, and the Orioles are ten games behind the division-leading Red Sox.
At times the O's have looked very good and very bad, which is the norm for an overachieving ballclub. I say overachieving because many analysts figured the Orioles would lose 100 or more games. To do that now, the Orioles would have to lose 52 of 69 remaining games, or 75.3% of those games. I shouldn't count the Orioles out of doing something like that, but it's just not going to happen.
One bad sign, though, is that the O's went in to the break losing eight of its last ten games.
The top third of the lineup has been one of the few bright spots for the O's this season: Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, and Aubrey Huff. Although Adam Jones is now hitting second in the lineup (more on that later), Roberts, Markakis, and Huff have all put up solid numbers and any one of them could have been named to the All-Star team roster.
Brian Roberts: .296 AVG / .375 OBP / .489 SLG / 7 HR / 33 RBI / 62 Rs / 27 SB / 9 CS
Hitting out of the leadoff spot, Roberts has been a nightmare for opposing pitchers. His .864 OPS is second in the American League among second basemen behind Ian Kinsler of the Rangers, and his 27 stolen bases are tied for third-best in the league. His 33 doubles are one behind Kinsler's 34 for the most in the AL as well. Roberts has also been solid in the field; his 99.1% fielding percentage ranks fifth among AL second basemen.
Nick Markakis: .299 AVG / .401 OBP / .492 SLG / 14 HR / 50 RBI / 61 Rs / 9 SB / 4 CS
Now back in the third-slot in the lineup, Markakis has been the best Orioles hitter so far this season. His .892 OPS is 13th best in the AL, and he's fourth in the AL in OBP. He's on pace to hit around 30 home runs, which would be the most in his three full seasons (16 in '06, 23 in '07). Surprisingly, with his good eye at the plate, Markakis has struck out 74 times this season, but he's also compiled 59 walks -- two less than all of last season.
In the field, Markakis is tied for second in MLB with nine outfield assists. He has also only committed one error.
Aubrey Huff: .284 AVG / .349 OBP / .526 SLG / 18 HR / 59 RBI / 53 Rs / 2 SB / 0 CS
If Markakis has been the O's best hitter, then Huff is probably tied with Roberts for second-best. Huff's strong first half seemingly came out of nowhere, especially after his underwhelming 2007 season, which included a .280 average but only 15 homers and 72 RBIs. Huff, who mostly is in the lineup as a DH but can play first or third, is tied with Jim Thome for the second-most homers for DHs. If he had more at bats at first or third, Huff would also be second in homers at both positions. He even has more homers now than 2008 HR Derby champion Justin Morneau (14). The point is that Huff is finally hitting for power, which is what the Orioles signed him for.
As shown, Roberts, Markakis, and Huff are all major reasons why the Orioles currently rank sixth in the AL in runs scored with 439.
The next post will cover the rest of the Orioles position players and how they've fared so far this season.