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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moethedogI assume we would have discovered the hip issue in the physical, like the Padres did. I hope we would have, anyway. Renting Upton for a year was always fine if the rent was cheap enough. Nava guys, Daniel Nava: Career .293-.385-.428 vs. RHP. Cheap (minus the swap costs), plays both COF's and 1B. Boston has to trade a guy. That .385 OBP would look pretty sweet in the 1 or 2 spot vs. RHP. I think Boston is holding Craig. Bid on Nava. Doesn't hit lefties much...even as a switcher...but that's not what we need him for. We need an COF how can play 1B, he's a nice one.1 hour 45 min ago
DaddyOAs someone who has decried Jack's inability to land a bona fide RF'er this offseason, it's very possible we will eventually be glad we passed on both Kemp and Upton, Kemp because he combines arthritic hips with 5 remaining contract years, and Upton because he would be a one-year rental.2 hours 29 min ago
John PierceDoes anyone think Upton may have had a say about which team he would like to go to? We were one of the few teams on his no trade list until this year. If he did, maybe playing his contract year in sunny SoCal, on a team gearing up to win it all this year, trumped coming to the Great Pacific Northwest.10 hours 10 min ago
GrumpySteamer is regressing down all of the young players' strikeout rates by 5%, and we have a lot of those players, and we are (currently) planning to rely on a bunch of those players. So I think that effect may disproportionately and artificially boost the Ms WAR projections. I mean really, who among us actually expected Steamer to rate the Ms as the number 1 team in the AL? Not me.10 hours 27 min ago
rick82Grumpy, if Steamer is over aggressive regarding K rates, I assume it is across the board, for all teams. I doubt Steamer is favoring the Mariners.17 hours 39 min ago
misterjonezToo bad about the Upton non-trade. We could have used that guy this year. Just for fun, can someone (Spec or Gordon - or both?!) put up what a comparable package would have been from the Ms?19 hours 9 min ago
SABR Mattfor the record, counting Cruz as an OF is not smart for the purposes of evaluating the line-up...when he is in RF...there is a hole DHing. That isn't a plus for the OF. Also for tyhe record, Ruggiano is not a good baseball player to rely on for more than 200 ABs. Also for the record, Ackley is about as reliable as Pinocchio. And the final for the record, Bloomquist is terrible at baseball, and every at bat he takes for the Mariners is a sign that the Mariners failed.21 hours 27 min ago
GrumpySteamer is possibly conservative, but OTOH They are also predicting an across the board 5% reduction in strikeout rate for *all* the young players (as Logan pointed out on LL last week). I find that prediction troubling. I think we need a real major leager in place (and not a bounce back candidate). If one of the kids blows up then we can trade somebody like Aoki to make room if necessary... He will have real value to some team should the need to make room arise.23 hours 11 min ago
TaroI don't expect each of Ackley, Jackson, Miller, and Taylor to tank, but I also don't expect all of them to succeed. Ackley was terrible in 2013, Jackson was terrible just last year. Taylor is a small guy that Ks a lot without power to compensate. He needs to BABIP himself to success. The OF is volatile. You plug Miller in RF and now SS is volatile as well. We need another player out there.1 day 1 hour ago
TaroThe Ms don't need marginal vets, they need a viable solution in the RF. Jones and Romero combined for negative 2 WAR last year. The names could be different in '15, but we can't let that happen again. Zs unwillingness to plug an obvious hole in OF cost us our playoff run.1 day 1 hour ago
benihanaSeager could regress, Cano could see his power completely evaporate, Lomo could flame out, Zunino could fail to improve.. the 2015 M's could be the 2014 Texas Rangers. But, planning for the 100 year storm is a waste of resources. I am all for reasonable preparedness - but like I argued earlier, for preparedness to be useful you must maintain FLEXIBILITY. Signing marginal veterans doesn't help.1 day 3 hours ago
bsrbeni - not saying it's the likely scenario, it's obviously very unlikely. But, Ackley could easily be a spotty 90 OPS guy again, AJack could continue the 54 OPS Safeco parade, Miller has not proven he can play OF or hit consistently, Ruggiano could face plant to worthlessness (see Spec analysis), Cruz needs to keep his OF reps down, Bloomie is old and got injured right away last year. I am just saying, with the M's revenues there is no need to skate on thin ice like this. Jack has consistently shown a blind spot for shoring up black holes, they have killed almost every one of his teams so far.1 day 3 hours ago
bsrIf you haven't read this article about Tom Brady and his incredible training and preparation regimen, it's fantastic and well worth your time: http://www.si.com/nfl/2014/12/10/tom-brady-new-england-patriots-age-fitness. Been calling a Hawks-Pats SB since the start of the season...another all time legend for DangeRuss to stick the knife in >=)1 day 3 hours ago
benihanaBSR - riiiight. If Ackley, Jackson, Miller, Ruggiano, Cruz, and Bloomquist all go down in flaming wreckage the season is doomed! I don't see that as plausible at all. I see that as more battered fan syndrome.1 day 3 hours ago
bsrI feel pretty good that the M's have their Pete Carroll, or a good enough facsimile. Not so sure they have their John Schneider ;) Competition is great...when you have a ton of talent taking part in that competition.1 day 4 hours ago
bsrAgreed on competition, and I do trust Lloyd to make good decisions with the options he has. However, we are in a historical drought of hitting in MLB. I am not sure the M's have ANYone who is good enough to plate runs in our OF. I see a plausible and not excessively pessimistic downside scenario that we have zero good OF right now (not 1 or 2 and we duct tape it together, I mean zero and it goes down in burning wreckage and kills the season). Anyway just waiting to see who is the Rodney equivalent this offseason, because we definitely have money still to spend - there's no way we're done at this point.1 day 4 hours ago
rick82Cheaping out, not cheating out1 day 4 hours ago
rick82Bsr, I wanted Upton. I don't want to hire half a platoon spot. I'm fine with the M's cheating out in that regard. But we should have bid and won Upton.1 day 4 hours ago
rick82Now, I am not certain Lloyd knows how to hold tryouts. That could be a problem. Almonte wasn't ready while Saunders sat. But Elias properly won his spot and was a hidden gem Steamer didn't count on. He may do better with pitchers in that regard.1 day 4 hours ago