With an easily reachable power alley in left-center field and a short porch in right, Baltimore's Camden Yards is statistically the fifth-easiest park in which to homer. That's good news for the returning Miguel Tejada, whose power disappeared during his two-year stint with the Houston Astros.
Interestingly, park effects on strikeout rates have proven demonstrably strong. The Orioles' home yard consistently sees fewer whiffs, corrected for the players who play there, than any other stadium save the Colorado Rockies' Coors Field.
Manager Dave Trembley has grown more reticent to run in each of his three seasons, so Brian Roberts will not swipe 50 bases, as he did in 2007.
Baltimore's pitchers were awful last season. Rick Kranitz is a respected pitching coach, but in his two seasons at the helm, Baltimore has given up more home runs than any other team in baseball. In 2009, they also struck out the fewest batters of any American League club.
Their two big-ticket acquisitions, starter Kevin Millwood and closer Mike Gonzalez, are flyball pitchers who do not profile well for Camden Yards. Gonzalez, however, will benefit from Trembley's rigid regimen of giving his closer every save opportunity. George Sherrill earned 31 saves in 2008 and another 20 in 2009 before being traded in July.
Tejada will move to third base; it is clear that his once excellent range has deserted him. Bookending Roberts and shortstop Cesar Izturis, Tejada and Atkins make a very good infield defense a hair better.
The outfield is another story. All three starters for Baltimore have good arms, but none have plus range. For the hurlers, like Gonzalez, especially, that spells trouble: Would-be fly-outs can fall in for doubles when the Orioles' outfielders get involved.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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