Enemy Pitchers Not Giving M's Anything

 .............

Toss out your morning New York Times crossword puzzle, or Sudoku, or Skip-O-Vision translation ring game, and tackle something much more challenging this morning.  Which of the following numbers does not belong?

SEA rank among 30 teams O-Swing Z-Swing Contact% Zone% SwStr% F-Strike% HR ISO
  26 23 16 1 14 16 13 18

The Mariners see more strikes than any other team - a lot more strikes.  Over 49% of pitches delivered to the M's are thrown inside the strike zone, compared to 45% for the league.  Only three other teams are even over 47.0%.

This contributes to a BB rate that is much lower than it should be; the M's are #26 in BB percentage.  As you might have noticed, it's tough grinding out a rally when you never seem to have a walk or two mixed in there.  

I don't have the data, but would be willing to bet that most "crooked number" rallies -- the number on the board is not straight, a "1" -- are "given to" the offense by a pitcher who walked a man or two aboard.  A lot of sports lies in the "unforced error" aspect of the battle, much more than fans like to admit.

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Q.  Are the pitchers refusing to walk the Mariners because they're not dangerous enough to command respect?

A.  Check the HR and ISO column.  Why wouldn't the 17 teams below them in the HR column be getting no walks?

.

Q.  Are Eric Wedge's aggressiveness sermons causing the low walks?

A.  Check the O-Swing column.  The M's have the 5th-best rate in the majors at this.  They have been absolutely superb, for such a young team, in refusing sucker pitches.  It's remarkable that a 23-year-old team* should be in the top 5 of 30 teams in refusing pitches outside the strike zone.

Whatever you think about Wedge's aggressiveness philosophy, the Mariners are not swinging at called balls.  Then how much can we really complain?  That's what you want to do:  lay off balls, and attack good pitches.  Even if you're Eric Wedge's worst critic, you should give it up for him on the O-Swing percentage.  C'mon, be fair.

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Q.  Why would the First Strike % be normal, but the overall strike % be sky-high?

A.  Necessarily because --- > enemy pitchers throw the Seattle Mariners a weirdly high number of strikes when down 1-0, 2-0, and 2-1.  Enemy pitching has been totally fearless when behind in the count.  Here it is, hit it.

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Q.  Do the M's see a lot of breaking pitches in these counts?

A.  There's nothing unusual in the pitch mix the M's see.  And the Mariners are not good or bad at hitting any type of pitch - fastball, cutter, change, whatever.

It's no more and no less than pitchers going "here it is, hit it" when behind in the count.

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Q.  Wouldn't this apply to other teams, too?  Oakland doesn't hit well.  Pittsburgh doesn't.  They don't face this syndrome.

A.  I would say it's due to one of two things:

1) The reputation of the 513-run seasons in 2010 and 2011* lingers, or

2) The Mariners have seen disproportionately tough pitching for 37 games.

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Q.  Supposing that it was 1), what would be the fix?

A.  To load up and punish 2-0 pitches for home runs, rather than for singles.  Have 'em open up those swings in hitters' counts.

Of course, that may be what they're doing; perhaps the Mariners are really the majors' #20 best homer team, and are #13 because of the over-challenging.

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Q.  Supposing that it was 2), what would be the fix?

A.  To wait for easier pitching.

I'd like to see somebody go through and count up the 2011 xFIP numbers for the 37 starters the M's have faced, and compare it to the league average... I'll bet you dollars to Ackley bobbleheads that the 37 starters have been really good.

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Q.  Leaving us where?

A.  In any case, an M's fan can tune into the Grand Theme over-arc'ing here.  The M's have got to punish enemy pitching for taking so much of the plate.

Those pesky rodent opposition starters are getting a whoooolllle lotta the plate on 2-0 and 2-1.  It's up to the M's to blast this overconfident approach or to do without walks.

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BABVA,

Dr D

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Gordon GrossWe're 16-26 in 1-run games, and that's essentially a random coin-flip stat. I don't think it's QUITE random, as you're helped by having XBH-dudes on your team who can scare you up a run more easily, but regardless: that's where the playoffs are. If we'd gone 20-22 like Texas, we're solidly in the playoffs. We're back to that unlucky or incompetent offense question there.21 min 47 sec ago
Gordon GrossBased on what Cruz is doing for the Orioles, I'd say not getting him is when we lost the West. :) We're only 2 games out of the playoffs. We'd have won a couple more games with Cruz in the lineup instead of Smoak/LoMo/Hart/Romero, but we could have won those 2 games with a lot of different people. Just not the ones we had.25 min 4 sec ago
rick82I don't blame Z for his inability to sign Cruz, don't get me wrong. I applaud him for having the foresight to chase hard after him, while the blogosphere (present company excluded, of course) screamed bloody no. I'm just saying that when we look back, that is the moment we lost the playoffs. And yes, most of our preferred mid season hopes would have likewise failed. That's why Cruz is the point at which we lost.48 min 42 sec ago
Gordon GrossThe Ms still have the chance to surprise us one more time, and if they don't... well they still played their hearts out. Next year should be this year +8 or 10 wins. We just need to find those wins. And enjoy the offseason "regression to the mean" comments about the rotation and the pen and mathematical "explanations" of how the Ms can't compete and should trade their best players. Trust me, I'm disappointed we couldn't find the offense to get over the hump (from the looks of it). But it doesn't spoil the season. I guess in a 162-game season I'm more about the journey. Playoffs are great, a championship would be amazing, but I want to watch my team play well (often...) and provide some good memories. This season is there. We just need next season to be even better.1 hour 2 min ago
Gordon GrossWe offered Cruz more money than he signed for. He didn't wanna come here. I don't blame him - his plan is working out PERFECTLY for him. As for this year: the Mariners are not done, but it is a long shot. So was '95. People are acting like we lost a hundred games again or something. "Fire Everyone! Burn down the Safe! Pitchforks and torches for all!" I understand the emotion, but we got 6 months of watchable baseball this year instead of cashing out in the middle of May. Try to enjoy it. :)1 hour 7 min ago
OBFAs far as Cruz goes... what did you want Jack to do? Kidnap him? Drug him? He offered him 4 times MORE than what he accepted in Baltimore, should he have offered 10 times? 20 times? At what point does it become important to you that a player actually WANTS to play here? Do I think that the offense scoring 3 runs a game is acceptable? No... Do I think that Jack's plan was a good one? Yes. Did it work out? Not yet, however we are on the cusp of the playoffs and we are interested and emotional invested in a Mariners team in MID SEPTEMBER... (Which hasn't happened in 10 plus yeas)... So even today I consider this season a success, and even though it feels doubtful today, I am still hoping and pulling for a nice little win streak to take over those pesky Royals or annoying A's... Go M's!1 hour 23 min ago
OBFSometimes... the players have to play... If we are going to crucify Mr. Z for his Mid Season trades (Trades we were all excited about a month and a half ago) then we should all also agree that Billy Beane is the worst GM in the history of GM's his mid season deals have practically killed the best team in the AL. Yeah the A's will probably limp into the playoffs, but did anyone think that in June they wouldn't end the season with the best record in the league?? Sometimes the idea is solid (who WOULDN'T want Lester on their team...) but the players have to execute. The GM can only look good if the players play well! And the A's offense minus Cespedes have pooped the bed! Austin Jackson might still end up being that 3+ WAR win player that he was a couple years ago in Detroit, but HE is the one that has to do it, all Jack can do is bring him here. I still think that was a good trade and still have high hopes for AJ going forward.1 hour 29 min ago
SABR MattI'm betting our pitching implodes after 2015.1 hour 55 min ago
rick82I have a bet with a friend, Red Sox fan, who has for the last decade trashed the front office in terms we are all very familiar with: front office doesn't care, doesn't compete, but unlike the Red Sox fans, the fans here sit back and accept it. Last year I said that this season we would take a major step forward, and become a winning season. In 2015, we would have the "Jamesian" fall back, consolidation season, which often happens when a young team surprises. With no quick answers for the offense on the horizon, I definitely see that happening. Then, in 2016, we win 90 games. I was basing this mostly on our discussions here with Gordon, who pointed to 2016. I said this would happen with one caviat: Z is retained through it all (no Bavasi blowing it up). I still see this scenario played out, but I would feel better about it if we replaced Z at this point. He did his work. Time to find that roster builder.2 hours 9 min ago
SABR MattI think we have to get Tomas and then whatever is left we need to spend on middle-tier outfield upgrades.2 hours 43 min ago
MtGrizzlyThe market for FA hitters is going to be pretty bleak. Do you spend big $$$ to lure Victor to Seattle through his age 40 season? Take a shot at Melky? Ugh...3 hours 40 sec ago
SABR MattSeason. Over.3 hours 47 min ago
IcebreakerXInteresting to note that Z's most rumored priority at the deadline was pitching and not just offense. With Iwakuma slowing down and Young/Elias inconsistent, maybe he was looking at the right things.4 hours 4 min ago
DaddyOWhen stellar pitching has been masking poor offense all season, what chance does your team stand when at crunch time the pitching starts to unravel just enough to expose what has been masked? Despite the really good run differential, despite the heady days of August and early September, it's beginning to look like this team is exactly what we expected, a .500-plus-a-few-games team. It could have been so much more with the pickup of one solid bat over the offseason and a couple at the trade deadline. We all instinctively knew it at the time; either Jack just failed to execute, again, or he was, again, just unlucky. People will pick which one based on their view of Jack. I know which one I pick.4 hours 53 min ago
mojicianI'm wussing out.11 hours 41 min ago
Tacoma RainIf Lloyd calls this just unlucky, and that the M's ran into a hot pitcher.... you can then put the fork in them DaddyO. If Lloyd raises hell about lack of effort and preparation... then maybe there is still a flicker12 hours 19 min ago
rick82In the postmortem, I think we'll say the season was lost when we failed to convince Cruz to sign with us. And it's too bad we weren't going after Chris Carter at the deadline.13 hours 10 min ago
MtGrizzly@shannondrayer: Line for Iwakuma 3 1/3 6H 7R 2BB 4K 70/47. Has given up 22 runs total in last 5 starts.13 hours 27 min ago
MtGrizzlyThe M's as currently constructed just can't have Felix and Iwakuma struggling for any meaningful stretch without dire consequences.13 hours 50 min ago
DaddyOWell that bases loaded, 3-run double by Pujols off Kuma puts a serious dent in any mojo the M's have left after the weekend series against Oakland. Albert fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch, then came through. 't would be nice to see Kendrys Morales provide even half of what a good cleanup hitter can provide.14 hours 11 min ago