So as Im listening to the Orioles on the radio Monday night, Fred Manfra mentions how the Mariners are the best-fielding team in the majors, with a .990 fielding percentage, and the Orioles, at .980, are the worst.
Now, given how the Orioles are hanging in there for wild-card contention and how only two other American League teams have worse records than the Mariners, my first thought is: Huh, defense in baseball is overrated.
But rather than commit that thought to my head and decide to bring it up the next time Im discussing baseball with someone who may actually know what he or she is talking about, I looked at the stats.
Among baseballs six division leaders, five rank among the top 11 in fielding in the majors. Only in the National League West, where the Dodgers or Giants are within a half-game of each other, does this not hold true. The Dodgers rank 21st and Giants just above the Orioles at 29th.
In regard to the Orioles, this adds another element to what an anomaly they are. Theyre the worst fielding team in the majors, they have been outscored overall this season by 55 runs, their team ERA of 4.10 ranks ninth in the American League
Yet, yet the Orioles sit a half-game out of the last wild-card spot with 53 games left to play. Which really is the only stat that matters.