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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Dr D

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SABR Matthis secondary stats haven't changed much from prior seasons. His LD% is down but his ISO is back to career norms rather than paltry like last year. His plate discipline stats are normal for him except that he's generally swinging more often. His walk rate is down with no change in K rate. In the most recent month or so, his K/BB is 12/2 (that's not good) and his ISO is a normal .115 or so. The main change is BABIP, which is normally around .310 for his career but is over .450 during the hot streak with no change in LD%. I'm gonna say...not real.12 min 38 sec ago
GLSQuestion for anyone that would like to venture an opinion: is the recent Ackley hitting streak real and sustainable? What's going on there?28 min 31 sec ago
DaddyOYes, YES! There are prospects about to die on the vine if we don't use them for SOME-thing.2 hours 28 min ago
Bat571And the thought of Souza in AAA may help the concentration of Ackley.2 hours 49 min ago
Bat571I'm hoping the first move is Franklin or Noriega+CSmith for Souza. I can see him as the kind of player that could come up in September as an older prospect who takes his chance and runs with it.2 hours 50 min ago
GLSThe Marlon Byrd deal ought to be doable. Even with the risk of the extra year, it's only 1 year at 8 million. That's hardly an albatross. And if it keeps you in he hunt this year without having to give up anything good, it seems like a worthy expenditure.3 hours 8 min ago
Bat571Yes, Ice, we need to get past the s*&*t and trade with somebody before Franklin, Marte, Noriega, etc. lose all shininess.3 hours 21 min ago
IcebreakerXThe newest narrative fits perfectly with Baker's reporting from last winter though. If the M's are a laughing stock, then they probably are.3 hours 22 min ago
Bat571And, GLS, even though I served on cruisers and carriers, I happen to believe there really are two kinds of ships - submarines and targets. I want a boomer, or at least a tomahawk-loaded fast attack. I want to sink Oakland and the LAAAAA (and the Yankees, RedSox, Rays, BlueJays, etc.) before they realize what hits them. Give me the .850 OPS Kemp has put up since the all-star break, and I'll have fun watching meaningful baseball. Get Lester, too, and I'll start making plans to visit Seattle for the playoffs.3 hours 23 min ago
IcebreakerXSitting on all these MIFs remind me of the days of Clint Nageotte, Travis Blackley and Ryan Anderson... With a side of Bobby Madritsch.3 hours 30 min ago
Bat571Amen, Terry and GLS - the problems are inertia-related in the higher echelons, not JackZ's judgement or ethics. But there is a chance this year, because of the farm system strength Jack and TomMac and others have built and Chris Gwynn has developed, to balance and restructure the MLB team on the fly - which in previous attempts cost prospects that were needed to keep the MLB roster from ageing. Hopefully, Lincoln and Co. now are starting to perceive that we could trade 2 prospects of the quality of what the Giants gave up for Peavy without really noticing the loss. But the use of the impediments to Jack's trading to portray him as a fool not worthy of his position rankles me. *********** DaddyO -- I'm sorely afraid it would read exactly like an update of SHIPWRECKED!3 hours 40 min ago
DaddyOOne is tantalized by the prospect of Z as a former M's GM writing a tell-all book about his days working with Lincoln/Armstrong and then Lincoln. Probably never happen, but wouldn't YOU love to read it if it DID?3 hours 58 min ago
phxterrySpec - I agree with your point "that Z is not strong in the strategic & negotiation aspects of the job. He's a scout, and a very good one." However, I believe the reason for this is more nuanced than just Z lacking competence -- GMZ, IMO, is the public face of the dysfunctional, meddling, parsimonious M's FO, led by Lincoln. Hence, GMZ's growing reputation as ineffectual, indecisive, unable to close a deal -- other teams are tired of dealing with the front man (Z) who both lacks authority to consummate deals and who can't deliver the fractious Committee when it's decision time. The proof of this ingrained dysfunctionality for me is the M's epic inablity, since last year, to build a balanced roster with good outfielders, despite a surfeit of young IFers that could be traded for the needed OFers. I personally have zero expectations that the M's will address their roster shortcomings before the trade deadline, and will be pleasantly surprised if they do.4 hours 11 min ago
GLSUnless we can get an aircraft carrier back (love that metaphor by the way), I don't support trading any of our main pieces in season. Stanton, yes, obviously. Tulo, yes, obviously (though I think he's on the DL right now). Hamels, maybe.4 hours 18 min ago
GLSWhat I took from that article is more confirmation that Z doesn't have much actual authority to make deals. The part about the Mariners operating from fear of a good player coming back to haunt them ring true. It's the ghost of Adam Jones come back to haunt us.4 hours 24 min ago
SABR MattAgreed with all of that Bat...it's RIDICULOUS to claim that the Mariners shouldn't try to get into the 1-game play-off...they have FELIX for cryin' out loud...their odds of winning that 1-gamer have got to be like 70%!4 hours 28 min ago
Gordon GrossLove the whole diatribe, Bat. Apologize for nothing. :)4 hours 31 min ago
Bat571Sorry for the extended diatribe, but reading around the internet the past few days got me mad - Rosenthal and Heyman particularly are playing somebody's game for them.4 hours 58 min ago
Bat571If the Ms got Kemp and he hit and .850 OPS the rest of the way and played a decent RF, that would spoil somebody's hope of a wild card spot - or maybe they'd have to face Felix backed by a decent offense in a one-game playoff. It makes a lot of sense to portray JackZ as a fool for thinking about that trade.5 hours 28 sec ago