Analysts without Analysis

This isn't a post where I complain about the "lack of respect" shown to the Orioles following their 14-8 start. I don't expect the national media to all declare in unison that after 22 games in April, that they were all wrong before the season and that the O's are for real. I don't expect them to say that because I wouldn't say that. I am not sure any O's fan would really make such a bold proclamation just one month into the season. We all want to see how the O's do against the elite of the American League - Yankees, Rays, Rangers, and Tigers. We want to see how well the starting pitching and bullpen holds up as we get a little further into the season. It is still way too early to know for sure whether any team's April is indicative of how their entire season is going to play out. So I get all of that and in no way expect anything other than skepticism from the national baseball media. Having said that, if baseball reporters and analysts **are** so inclined to discuss the O's hot start and whether it is sustainable, it would be nice if they actually provided some insightful analysis rather than just spouting unsupported opinions.

I was off from work today, which as usual, means I logged a lot of time with the MLB Network. The O's were discussed throughout the day as they begin their 3-game series against the Yankees tonight in New York. Two shows and really, two comments in particular, stood out to me.

The first was Kevin Millar on MLB Network's *Intentional Talk* show. Chris Rose asked Millar about the O's 14-8 record and whether that kind of play is sustainable. Millar's answer centered on the fact that the O's have had an "easy schedule" (his words, not mine) thus far. Calling the O's schedule easy and saying they haven't played anyone thus far, is a bit of a stretch. Thus far, the Orioles have played the Twins, Yankees, Blue Jays (twice), White Sox, Angels, and A's. Three of those teams are currently below .500. The A's are one game below after their loss to the O's on Sunday. The Angels, most everyone would agree, are a very good team that is off to a slow start. The Twins are currently playing like one of the worst teams in baseball and there is a solid chance they will end up in that same group after 162 games. The O's swept the Twins and took 2 out of 3 from the A's. Isn't that what good teams do to "lesser" teams? The Orioles only managed one of three from the Angels, but again, I don't think Kevin Millar would attempt to argue that the Angels are a bad team.

The Orioles' other 13 games have been against teams with current records of .500 or better. The Jays are 12-10. The O's have won 5 of 6 against their AL East rivals thus far. If the Jays had simply split the first 6 games with the O's, they would be 14-8 right now and would be the team Kevin Millar would be discussing instead of the O's. I think that's at least somewhat telling. The O's have gone 7-6 against teams better than .500.

The bottom line? I don't see how that schedule is any easier or harder than the average MLB team has played thus far. Millar's argument that the schedule has allowed the O's to play well is flimsy at best. I completely agree that we will have to see how well the team is able to play against the better teams in the AL and AL East, but that doesn't mean they have ridden an easy schedule to their 14-8 record.

Later on *MLB Tonight*, John Hart was asked a similar question about the O's. Hart did what you see a lot of sports analyst do with this kind of question. He listed off a laundry list of all the things that he likes about the O's thus far. Then without listing any concrete negatives, said something like "but I am still not sold." Where is the analysis? Why are you not sold? Of course, nobody bothered asking him these questions. Instead, the team's record against the Yankees since 2009 was shown and Hart commented that the O's will have to play better against teams like the Yankees to be successful. That is, of course, an obvious point.

The show turned its attention to the Nationals immediately after. Hart's take on the Nationals? They can sustain their good start because the Nationals "have less holes than the Orioles". Okay, fine. Except Hart didn't bother actually stating what holes the O's have in the previous segment. Again, where is the actual analysis? Is it too much for me to expect for someone like Hart to say something like this?

"The prior track records of the Orioles starters lead me to believe they won't be able to pitch this well over the course of an entire season. The offense is still middle of the pack in the American League at best and is performing worse than that right now. The Orioles play in the toughest division in baseball and will have to face the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees 51 more time this season. Given what I see with their pitching and offense, I have a hard time believing that they can beat those teams on a consistent basis over 162 game schedule."

To me, that's the bare minimum an analyst should give. I am not even asking for in-depth statistical support, just some idea of how Hart reached his conclusion. Instead, we get "the O's are doing all of these good things, but I am not buying them" with only a vague reference to the team's "holes" a segment later. Be skeptical all you want, but at least tell us, your viewers, *why* you are skeptical. Otherwise, guys like Millar and Hart cease to be analysts and are no better than any average fan that offers his or her opinion without any support to back it up.