Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White
Saturday, May 17, 2003
MARINERS 6, TIGERS 3 (take II)
The M's won, the Yankees lost and the Red Sox lost... which means... The Mariners are now tied with the Yankees for the best record in the AL. How you like them apples?
Alright, no homers from Edgar, but the top of the order (Ichiro, Guillen & Boonie) combined to go 7 for 15 with all 6 RBIs and 5 runs scored. Boonie went deep twice, while Ichiro contributed a homer and a double.
Moyer threw 113 pitches into the 7th inning, 63% for strikes, scattering 10 hits and a walk for 3 runs while striking 8. Meanwhile, Shiggy continued his Amazing Shrinking ERA routine. It's now down to 0.36. And in closer news, Kaz converted his second straight save, throwing 13 pitches, 10 for strikes, striking out 2. Since coming off the DL, he's thrown 4.1 innings, struck out 4, given up 2 hits and no runs. Things are looking better, but convince me, Kaz.
Last week I ran the pitch per innings leaders, losers and Mariners. That list included only qualified starters, and the info came from ESPN's sortable stats. Since then, ESPN has added the data for non-qualfied pitchers, so we can look at relievers, too. The problem is, however, that the samples for relievers are far smaller than the starters. The extremes range from #425 Dave Elder (35.6 pitches/inning in 2.1 innings) to #1 Kevin Ohme (10.4 in 4.1 innings), which unfortunately means absolutely nothing. But lets see where the Mariners bullpen is...
#24 Shiggy Hasegawa - 14.1 (24.2 innings)
#51 Arthur Rhodes - 14.7 (19 innings)
#192 Julio Mateo - 16.2 (21 innings)
#283 Giovanni Carrera - 17.4 (22.1 innings)
#334 Kaz Sasaki - 18.1 (13.1 innings)
#391 Rafael Soriano - 19.8 (4 innings)
#401 Jeff Nelson - 20.5 (14.1 innings)
As I said, these numbers don't mean much more than squat, especially Soriano, given we're looking at about an average of 18-19 innings for these guys. It is interesting to note that Nelson has used more than 6 pitches more than Shiggy per inning to get 3 outs. My guess is that's because Nelson aims to strike batters out while Shiggy lets the defense do the work. Eyeballing the data, 16.1-16.2 seems to be the average, so the M's bullpen has 2 above the average, one right there and 3 below, though Sasaki is another pitcher who carries a high SO/9. But then again, so does Rhodes usually. Sasaki did strike out 2 today in a 13 pitch inning. Oh well. Just goes to show the meaning of a small sample size. We'll just have to revisit this later in the year.
|| Peter @ 5/17/2003
MARINERS 6, TIGERS 3
Edgar homered for the third straight day (in the 6th inning this time). He now ranks second in the AL in OPS (1.108). He's 4th in batting average, 2nd in on-base and 2nd in slugging with this line: .345/.453/.655. After all these years in the shadows of Junior, A-Rod and Ichiro, wouldn't it be great to see Edgar finally win an MVP? He had 3 RBIs on the night.
Jeremy Bonderman can't be as bad as his ERA shows. He threw 68% of his pitches for strikes, striking out 7 in 5 innings. The only starter that didn't strike out was Winn. But then again, hits count as strikes as well and Bonderman's OPS against on the season is .860.
Our flighty M's had no respect at all for Brandon Inge--4 stolen bases on the night and caught once. However, none of those stolen bases led to a run, and when Ichiro was nailed at third base in the third inning, it cost the M's a run as McLemore followed with a triple. Ichiro led off the game with an infield hit, stole second and third while Mac, Boonie and Edgar all struck out to end the first. So you win some, you lose some. And some nights you only lose some. Fortunately those mistakes can be afforded against Detroit.
Baseball Prospectus' latest Triple Play features the Dodgers, Indians and Mariners. They mention the Amazing Feats of Edgar, the Fast and Furious Fall of Freddy, and Cirillo's hot bat (is that an oxymoron? as an aside within an aside, Cirillo went 0 for 3 last night, stranding 4, striking out twice and got tossed from the game arguing a called third strike in the 6th). The one thing they mention that I haven't yet is Chris Snelling, who through Thursday's game was hitting .302/.348/.465 in 43 at bats for San Antonio. Though the Prospect Report reported on Thursday he's in a 2 for 16 slump.
|| Peter @ 5/17/2003
Friday, May 16, 2003
MARINERS 9, INDIANS 1
Edgar goes deep... again... in the 1st inning--his 6th first-inning home run of the season, and second in as many days. It was the night of 9--9 runs on 9 hits and 9 walks. Nearly half (4) of the hits were for extra bases. Even before the rain delay in the 4th, every Mariner starter had scored a run. The rain nearly robbed the M's of an easy victory, and did steal a very good outing from Franklin. He had only thrown 41 pitches through 3 innings, 68% for strikes. Giovanni picked up the win as he capitalized on an opportunity to bring his ERA below 5.00 again. But he did walk 2 without striking out an Indian in his 3 innings.
Now its off to Detroit, where, as I mentioned with the last Cleveland/Detroit series, a sweep shouldn't be out of the question. The matchups look like Meche vs. Bonderman tonight, Moyer vs. Cornejo Saturday afternoon and Piniero vs. Maroth on Sunday afternoon. Let's hope the offense keeps clicking to the tune of 5+ runs a game.
Art Thiel offers a very interesting angle on the Freddy situation. Many of the current elite pitchers have been late bloomers after the age of 26 -- Randy Johnson (-9 Runs Saved against the league average before 26 and 463 after), Curt Schilling (21/228), Kevin Brown (12/266), Tom Glavine (12/250), and Jamie Moyer (-26/117). Freddy currently has 52, better than all of them combined through his age. There's no denying Freddy has raw talent, but raw talent alone "makes not one great," in the words of Yoda. Schilling and Moyer are widely recognized as two of the most intelligent, most prepared pitchers in baseball, and is there a pitcher out there with a work ethic to compare with the Big Unit? That's the bridge Freddy has yet to cross. As much as I hate seeing Freddy underachieve start after start, I'd be much more frustrated to watch him bloom in another uniform, a la Mike Hampton, or as Montreal has with both Randy Johnson AND Pedro Martinez.
|| Peter @ 5/16/2003
Thursday, May 15, 2003
INDIANS 7, MARINERS 2
Whoa, hold on, hold on, stop if you’ve heard this one before: Freddy Garcia, 6 innings, 116 pitches, 57% of them for strikes, 8 hits, 7 runs (but only 4 earned), 2 walks and 5 strikeouts. It’s one thing to get pasted by the offensive behemoth that is the Yankees. It’s another thing entirely to put together a pitching line like that against the 98-pound weaklings of baseball. The Indians’ offense ranks 26th in batting average, 28th in runs scored, 28th in OBP, 23rd in slugging, 26th in OPS and 28th in walks. Is it too much too ask your No. 1 starter to dominate a team like this?! It was the Indians first win against the AL West, and only second win against a team with an above-.500 winning percentage.
And here’s Price’s assessment:
"He's capable of being the second-best pitch locator on this staff behind Jamie, and that's one thing we haven't seen," Price said. "Today he was trying to miss bats instead of trying to make batters mishit the ball, and that's really his game.” C'mon Freddy, it's the freakin' Indians, for crying out loud.
Well, the defense didn’t help Freddy’s cause as they committed 3 errors. A John Olerud error happens about as often as a Mariner pinch-hit extra-basehit.
Edgar hit a home run in the 1st inning… again. In fact, 5 of Edgar’s 8 home runs have been in the first inning. Inning by inning, he has 5 in the 1st inning, one in the 4th inning, one in the 5th inning and one in the 6th inning. Three of those first-inning home runs have come while batting third and the other two batting cleanup. Tell me, is there a better argument to have your best hitter in the lineup hitting third than to improve your chances of scoring in the first inning?
Boy, that table from yesterday’s entry didn’t turn out very reader-friendly did it? I promise no more tables until I can find a way that Blogger can agree with to format a chart like that.
Thanks to Shannon Fears of the P-I blog for the kind mention, and welcome to all the new visitors from there and from the Baseball Primer link from the other day also. I hope you find something interesting here and please drop me a line sometime and remind me of the sights, sounds and smells of Safeco Field.
|| Peter @ 5/15/2003
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
“On the run from Johnny Law… ain’t no trip to Cleveland.”
--Dignan, Bottle Rocket
MARINERS 8, INDIANS 3
17 hits scoring 8 runs. Wow, 20 baserunners were abandoned by the Mariners. Only 4 extra base hits, but at least all of them resulted in runs. It’s quite nice to see Ichiro and Cirillo lead the hit brigade. That brings Ichiro’s OPS up to .743. He’s swinging a hot bat at 1.062 for the past week. For Cirillo, that raises him to .652. That’s his highest mark of the year, and he’s sitting on .944 for the month of May. Keep it up, Jeff.
Joel struggled early yet again. He threw 109 pitches in 6 innings, only 55% for strikes. The biggest trouble obviously was the 2nd when the Indians put 3 runs on the board. Josh Bard led off with a double. Then a fly out. Then Casey Blake bunts it to Cirillo. But instead of making it 2 outs, runner at third, Cirillo throws it away, Bard scores and Blake’s on. Still one out. Three consecutive singles give the Indians their 3 runs before Joel stops the bleeding with a double play ball. He pretty much seemed to cruise along after that. Maybe "cruise" is too strong a word. Maybe "damage control." He did scatter 9 hits to go with 3 walks. He’s still walking as many as he strikes out. Carrera and Shiggy held the measly Indians off the base paths for the final three frames.
I’ve been reading baseball on the internet for, oh, 4, maybe 5 years now. I was a subscriber to the daily Seattle Times for 2 years. I occasionally picked up the Seattle Weekly. Far and away, my favorite writer as far as Mariners content goes is Derek Zumsteg of Baseball Prospectus. On cue from David Cameron’s Oompa Loompa comments of several days ago on USS Mariner (to which Derek is also a contributor), he displays exactly why he has favoritism status with his scathing, bitter disappointment in the M’s so-called “ace.” Freddy’s performance this year has done nothing but reinforce my own belief that Joel Piniero will emerge this year as the M’s #1 starter and take the hill Opening Day 2004
Speaking of USS Mariner, David made a comment about Edgar battling Yankees and Rangers for the top spots on the AL leader boards at the ripe, young age of 40. Edgar’s currently hitting .336/.455/.589. He’s 5th in the AL in batting average, 2nd in on-base, 3rd in OPS, 7th in walks and 7th in slugging. As Dave points out, not even The Great Bambino did that at age 40. Which led me to wonder—just what were the greatest seasons ever by a 40-year-old? Here’s a couple of answers…
In 1971, in his final full season, Willie Mays posted a batting line of .271/.425/.482 in 417 at-bats, with a .907 OPS that was .201 above the league average. While his 123 strikeouts, by far the most of his career, indicate his declining bat speed, he walked 112 times, a career best, while only 11 of those were intentional. He scored 82 runs, hit 24 doubles, 5 triples, and 18 home runs, while driving in 61 runs. His .764 offensive winning percentage led the team, and his 27 win shares rank second on the NL West Champion Giants. He also stole 23 bases, was caught only 3 times and played center field. It’s quite a stretch of the imagination to see Edgar matching that.
More comparable to Edgar, is Dave Winfield’s 1992 campaign, his only season in Toronto. Winfield posted a line of .290/.377/.491. He walked nearly as many times as he struck out (82-89). He scored 92 runs, hit 33 doubles, 3 triples, 26 home runs, while driving in 108 runs. His .690 offensive winning percentage ranked 2nd on the World Champion Blue Jays, and his 27 win shares ranked 2nd. Like Edgar, he served as the DH.
Going back to 1927, in his first year in a Philadelphia uniform, Ty Cobb put together a line of .357/.440/.482. What blows my mind in this strikeout to walk ratio—67:12! Can you imagine any player the modern era striking out only 12 times in a season? For his career, Cobb only struck out once every 32 at-bats. In comparison Mike Cameron whiffs at a rate of once every 3.5 at-bats so far this year. But I digress. Cobb scored 104 runs, hit 32 doubles, 7 triples, 5 home runs, while driving in 93 runs. His .701 offensive winning percentage ranked 2nd on Connie Mack’s 2nd place Philadelphia Athletics, and his 22 win shares ranked 4th on the team. He also stole 22 bases, was caught 16 times and played right field.
Here’s the top 10 list for Runs Created above the league average in a season at the age of 40.
RUNS CREATED YEAR DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
1 Willie Mays 1971 46 97 51
2 Dave Winfield 1992 39 108 69
3 Ty Cobb 1927 36 107 71
4 Darrell Evans 1987 31 102 71
5 Rickey Henderson 1999 30 96 66
6 Sam Rice 1930 24 114 90
7 Harold Baines 1999 22 85 63
T8 Brian Downing 1991 21 72 51
T8 Carlton Fisk 1988 21 52 31
10 Pete Rose 1981 18 67 49
Interestingly, 4 of those seasons are since 1990 and 7 since 1980. Clearly, as Randy Johnson and Barry Bonds have shown recently, the top-tier athletes of the modern area are able perform at a level of excellence for into their careers. At his current pace, Edgar should break into that last by the All-Star break.
It has been brought to my attention that the excellent Baseball Primer made a plug for Mariners Musings yesterday. It’s under the I Meant to Include This Last Week heading of this article on TV black outs. It is just me, or do the Mariners cover the greatest square mileage of any single team? The Braves cover quite a bit of ground in the South. But hey, we’ve got exclusive rights to Montana. Thanks, Dave Werr, for the mention. Dare I wonder if that’s the Stan Javier?
Also in my emailbox yesterday was a note and link concerning Carl Riccio. Carl is a high school athlete who broke his neck in a wrestling match this past February. The injury has left him without movement in his arms and legs. Check out the site, and in the least, post him a note and keep him in your prayers.
|| Peter @ 5/14/2003
Monday, May 12, 2003
Pythagorean Rankings: Week 6
(last week's rank in parentheses)
1. NY Yankees (1) Would you believe Raul Mondesi leads the Yankees with a 1.010 OPS? Meanwhile, Nick Johnson leads the AL with 32 walks.
2. Oakland (6) Mark Mulder's pitch counts in 3 straight complete games? 96, 96 and 105. Then 106 in 8 innings yesterday. His ERA, since April 9, has dropped 4 whole runs from 6.55 to 2.55.
3. St. Louis (2) Edmonds (1.097 OPS), Pujols (1.033), Rolen (.995) and Renteria (.975) make this the highest scoring, non-DH, non-Colorado team.
4. Seattle (3) Edgar 3rd in AL in Offensive Winning Percentage (.827) and also 3rd in Runs Created/Game (10.96).
5. (tie) Chicago Cubs (5) The Cubbies are 6th in OBP (.352), but tops in erasing the baserunners with double plays with 41.
5. (tie) Philadelphia (4) The Phils have allowed a baseball-leading 38 stolen bases while catching on 4, the worst percentage in the majors.
7. Los Angeles (10) No need to score as much as Tampa Bay (142 vs. 158), when the pitchers (116) allow less than half that of Cincinnati or Texas (240).
8. Montreal (8) Brad Wilkerson leads team with .313/.417/.554 batting line.
9. San Franscisco (9) Alfonzo (.637 OPS) deadweight at the moment. Grissom (.632) could be expected, and replacing Ray Durham (.898) with Neifi Perez (.623) is a huge blow.
10. Kansas City (7) Returning to reality with 5-6 May so far, but don't blame Desi Relaford: .318/.419/.500.
11. Atlanta (14) Outplaying their projection by 5 wins thanks to Maddux's first 3 starts where they were outscored 43-5. That'll right itself over the course of the season. Take out those 3 games and they're right where nobody expected them to be, just behind the Yankees.
12. Boston (11) First teams to cross 200 Runs Against threshold? Colorado (214), Toronto (224), Texas (240), Cincinnati (240), Tampa Bay, (218) and… Boston (205)
13. Anaheim (15) Brian Donnelly: 20 IP, 9 K/9, 0.70 WHIP, 0.00 ERA.
14. Minnesota (18) If you don't know who Johan Santana is, well, he just outpitched Pedro in his first start of the season.
15. Houston (19) Berkman finally starting to heat up with 1.183 OPS and 2 homers in past week.
16. Baltimore (12) Perhaps suffered the worst humiliation possible in baseball getting swept by Detroit at home, outscored 22-11.
17. Colorado (13) Offense ranks 2nd only 3 behind the Yankees with 169 walks.
18. Arizona (21) Raise your hand if you expected Miguel Batista to lead the pitching with a 2.28 ERA.
19. Toronto (19) Toronto, Colorado and Texas are among the top 5 best scoring teams and top 5 worst pitching teams.
20. Florida (22) Firing of Torborg and Arnsberg too little too late. I'm hopping mad and I'm not even a Marlins fan.
21. Chicago Sox (17) Think they've had enough of the AL West already? 3-9 in last 12 against Mariners and A's.
22. Texas (23) The rest of baseball has an .855 OPS against Rangers pitching, the worst mark in baseball.
23. Pittsburgh (16) All 6 pitchers that have started have ERAs below 4.50, four of them below 4.00. Meanwhile Giles and Kendall only hitters getting on base more than one third of the time.
24. Cincinnati (27) Meanwhile, the ERAs of the 8 starters the Reds have used range 4.44-12.74.
25. NY Mets (24) Only team that's scored fewer runs is Detroit (134-106).
26. Milwaukee (29) Well, Richie Sexson does lead the majors with 12 home runs.
27. San Diego (26) Ryan Klesko (.906) only starter with OPS over .770.
28. (tie) Cleveland (28) Since April 13, Ricardo Rodriguez has 5 lost straight decisions as the Tribe has been outscored 42-15 and his ERA has leaped from 1.35 to 4.66.
28. (tie) Tampa Bay (25) Lou Piniella has no patience? Try the Rays' lineup: Worst in the majors in walks with only 82, less than half the Yankees.
30. Detroit (30) Dmitri Young doubled his RBI (18) total and tripled his extra base hit total (11) all in one week.
AL - Dmitri Young (Detroit) 25 AB, 5 R, 12 H, 2 RB, 3 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, .480/.536/1.040, 1.576 OPS
NL - Aaron Boone (Cincinnati) 23 AB, 8 R, 9 H, 3 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB, 5 BB, .391/.517/1.174, 1.691 OPS
AL - Mark Mulder (Oakland) 2-0 W-L, 17.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 12 SO, 1.06 ERA
NL - Migual Batista (Arizona) 2-0 W-L, 15.0 IP, 12 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO, 0.60 ERA