The Bill Chuck Files overflow each day with stats, factoids, and observations that are sometimes relevant, sometimes irrelevant, and sometimes simply intriguing. At the start of each Red Sox series, I will share some of these in my "Nine to Know," and I hope you will do the same.
The 2012 embittered Boston Red Sox were not as bad as their record indicated, while the 2013 charmed Boston Red Sox were not as good as their record indicated.
The 2014 team shows that the 2012 group was probably closer to reality. So what was the difference?
My head spends a tremendous amount of time discovering, analyzing, and absorbing stats paying homage to Bill James. But my heart believes in magic paying homage to John Sebastian.
This year, it appears as if the Orioles have that magic.
Last year, the sorcerer was Ben Cherington, ably assisted by John Farrell stirring the brew. Neither had done it before, so we don’t know whether it was skill or beginner’s luck or, most likely, a combo of the two.
This year, as Nick Cafardo explained so well in the Sunday Boston Globe, it is Dan Duquette trying to get the credit he missed out on in 2004, and Buck Showalter, who is trying to finish first for the second time in his career and remove the appearance of being this generation’s Gene Mauch by having some postseason success.
The Orioles are winning the old fashioned way: they lead the majors with 188 homers, 20 of them hit with two runners on, the Earl Weaver favorite.
And, while there is no shortage this season of big-name, big win pitchers, the no-name Orioles pitchers have allowed the third fewest runs in the AL with only the M’s and the A’s allowing fewer. The two most important names for the Baltimore pitching staff are pitching coach Dave Wallace and pitching coordinator Rick Peterson.
While so much of the AL talk revolves around the Angels, Athletics, Royals, Tigers, and Mariners, the team with the biggest lead in baseball are the Orioles and come Halloween, this team dressed in orange and black may be the last team standing.
Nine to Know: the magical mix of the Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles 83-59 (40-31 on the road) @ Boston Red Sox 63-80 (31-41 at home)
1. There are 35 players in the majors with at least 20 homers this season, the Orioles lead the majors with three: Nelson Cruz (39), Chris Davis (26) and Adam Jones (24); the Sox have David Ortiz (32).
2. There are 41 players in the majors hitting .285 or better this season, the Orioles have one: Adam Jones (.286), the Sox have none.
3. There are 46 players in the majors with at least 70 RBI this season, the Orioles have three: Nelson Cruz (101), Adam Jones (81) and Chris Davis (72), the Sox have David Ortiz (98) and Yoenis Cespedes (94, 67 with Oakland).
4. There are 35 players in the majors with at least 15 steals this season, the Orioles have: Alejandro De Aza (who stole all 15 with the White Sox; the Sox have none.
5. There are 41 pitchers in the majors with at least 12 wins this season, the Orioles have Wei-Yin Chen (14) and Bud Norris (12); the Sox have none.
6. There are 45 pitchers in the majors who have appeared in at least 62 games this season, the Orioles have Andrew Miller (65, 50 with Boston) and Zach Britton (64); the Sox have Junichi Tazawa (66) and Burke Badenhop (63).
7. There are 48 pitchers in the majors who have thrown at least 170 innings this season, the Orioles have Chris Tillman (182.2); the Sox have none.
8. The average major league team has made 85 errors, the Orioles have made 71 - J.J. Hardy has made 12 and Jonathan Schoop has made 11; the Sox have made 79 - Xander Bogaerts has made 18, Brock Holt has made seven.
9. Since the start of the 2012 season, the Orioles are 261-205 (.562) and since the start of the 2013 season, the O’s are 168-136 (.552). Since the start of the 2012 season, the Sox are 229-238 (.490) and since the start of the 2013 season, the Bostons are 160-145 (.524).
See you Thursday as the Red Sox are going to Kansas City; Kansas City here we come.