|Joe: Doesn't need the cap the way Mike does, but could use a|
splashier coat & shirt to add flair to his grumble...
|Mike: "I've always been better|
than a 'replacement-level' singer!!"
Sheehan, however is cagier, lurching (with a curious, overly assured professorial tone) toward a position neither prone nor supine but more off-handedly propped up, like one of those posed porno shots--conjuring up another worrisome sub-genre of "neo" discourse, one that the traumatized taxonomist is forced to term (though not without justifiable trepidation) "meta-neo-sabermetrics."
Ol' Uncle Joe is more avuncular here than in most of his narratives, borrowing from "post-neos" (the FanGraphs folks who've glommed into the old BP/SI hegemony) as he carefully suggests (well, possibly only in comparison to Rany's contemptuous dismissal...) that the O's early success (how dare these guys get in the way of us continuing to sell the Rays' story!!) is founded on shaky, probably unsustainable factors.
|Adam Jones: "Hey, Joe...no, man, I|
can keep hittin' 'em just this much farther
and that gets 'em just over the fence, see?!"
Joe's strategy in the piece is to use variations of a "regression to the mean" argument to suggest (note the use of the world "probably") that the O's aren't quite ready to step up and contend. "Unknown" relief pitchers overachieving, "unsustainable" HR/FB ratios--these are the rhetorical undergarments of a grammar still more ideological than scientific.
There's no mention of exactly how much better the O's are doing at run prevention (the exact number, -1.12, is a figure that might call too much attention to itself). There's a discussion of how the O's have a poor defense (though no corroborative reference is provided; indeed, the O's are committing more errors than most AL teams--but so, for that matter, are the Rays).
|Dylan Bundy: maybe the next Roy Oswalt, but the O's might|
need the current one to be able to make the post-season.
|Dan Duquette, showing that he's been watching videotape|
of Mike Love's gesticulatory prowess...
All in all, it's a skilled, slightly overwound example of "meta-neo" journalism, carefully positioned to allow for some prognosticative leeway should the O's continue to thrive. It alludes to deep numerical forces that sound empirical even if no point of connection has actually been made to how games are actually won and lost.
|Tommy Hunter: the deeper into the game he goes,|
the worse things get.
So what can we leave you with, after you've bravely waded through another of our more braken-than-thou desconstructions? How about some historical facts, based on the results of all the teams in baseball history who were 29-17 after their first 46 games played. Sound good? And possibly useful, at least for setting some odds as to how things might turn out from this point until the end of the 2012 season as regards the O's?
OK, fair enough. Not counting the '12 O's, there have been 74 teams since 1901 who've started the year exactly 29-17 after 46 games. Of those teams, 29 have finished first (league or division). Two teams made the post-season via the wild card (ironically, both were Red Sox teams--one of them being the fabled 2004 squad, which--yes--started 29-17).
So 45% of the teams that started 29-17 continued into the postseason.
69 out of the 74 teams finished at .500 or better. (Remember that Rany assured us that the O's would finish under .500. That's happened only five times--or just 7% of the time.)
We could find no usable correlation between teams' Pythagorean Winning Percentage (PWP) after 46 games and their eventual won-loss record. So the fact that the O's are playing better than their runs scored-runs allowed suggests is not a serious predictive factor, despite what the ideologues would like to have you believe.