SARASOTA, Fla. – For several years, the Orioles have stressed the need to increase their on-base percentage.
In 2015, their OBP fell to .307, 12th in the American League, while they scored eight more runs than they did in 2014 when they had an on-base percentage of .311.
In 2014, the team won 96 games, and people didn’t talk about the Orioles ranking 11th in the league in getting runners on.
“I ask myself all the time: ‘Is that an acquired talent?’ manager Buck Showalter said.
“Very few times is there a big fluctuation in that. You kind of bring that.”
Manny Machado seems to be an exception. Machado walked 70 last season. In 2013, when he played nearly the entire year, he walked just 29 times. His OBP last year was .359.
Chris Davis is another whose ability to get on base seems to have improved. In 2012, he had a .326 OBP and walked just 37 times in 139 games. The next year when he hit 53 home runs, Davis’ walk total rose markedly to 72, and even in 2014 when he batted just .196, Davis walked enough to have a .300 OBP.
Last year, despite 208 strikeouts, Davis still walked 84 times and had a healthy .361 OBP.
Adam Jones, on the other hand, has struggled to improve his. Jones has never walked more than 36 times a year, and has watched his OBP fall from .334 in 2013 to .308 last year, just about the Orioles’ average.
J.J. Hardy is another who doesn’t walk much, and even in his best seasons, hasn’t had an on-base percentage much higher than .300.
Two of the Orioles’ additions, Hyun Soo Kim and Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard, are designed to address the weakness. Both had OBPs well over .400 last season, but neither was in the major leagues.
Kim had an astounding .438 on-base percentage in South Korea, and Rickard’s combined OBP with three minor league teams was .427.