Braves 5, Mariners 4 - Brian McCann Is SupahBad

=== Dustin Ackley ===

In the fifth inning, M's up 3-1, nobody on base, routine dog-days AB on a dog-days Tuesday ...

Ackley got a 1-0, 80 mph slider from Hanson, put a good swing on it, juuussssst got under it for a flyball-8 .... and SLAMMMMMED his bat on the ground in a barely-controlled rage.

Ackley is in a rage?  That he didn't take Tommy Hanson deep ... in Ackley's second week in The Show?  Isn't Ackley supposed to be busy ... being afraid?

Jack Nicholson once said, Star quality is when a cat walks on stage and everybody keeps looking at you.  I'm completely mesmerized by Dustin Ackley.

You know what movie star had an attitude like Ackley's?  Calm, narrow-eyed violence?  Few words, fight now talk later, just throw back the poncho and let's draw?  Clint Eastwood.  

Not a lot of showmanship.  Just rather fight than talk.


Next AB, huge situation in the 7th with the Braves' fingers around the M's throats, Ackley had two strikes and sidearm lefty George Sherrill threw him a sidearm lefty hook that dropped down out of the strike zone.

Ackley lined it hard, right back up the middle, for an RBI.

If the Mariners had nine Dustin Ackleys, with this pitching staff, they'd win 117.


=== Ichiro ===

Called the double steal, I guess, the one that lost the ballgame.

As the pitcher went to home, the camera caught a flash of Kennedy taking off.  DOUBLE STEALLLL?!, I shrieked in agony .... the pitch was a strike, the catcher threw Kennedy out, and once again (because of the result) my homeys were amazed at the prescience..........

Interestingly, Ichiro called it an "obvious" play.  This, to me, is like Bobby Fischer saying that a Bishop check was obvious.  Guess I missed something.


You know one thing that's interesting, in Ichiro's defense ....

  • 1B + 2B, 1 out = 0.96 runs per event
  • 3B, 2 out = 0.39 runs per event
  • 2B + 3B, 1 out = 1.45 runs per event

So, you "gain" 0.49 runs if safe, and "lose" only 0.57 runs if out.  You would avoid that if a SB was a coin flip, but of course SB's aren't 50-50 coin flips.  SB's work closer to 70% of the time.

And Adam Kennedy's SB% is sky-high -- 14-2 last year, 6-0 this year, and real high for his career.


We've left out a whole buncha stuff ... how the win probabilities change things when down 2 runs, how things change with Smoak and Ackley up, what McCann's defense is, the pitcher's move, yada yada yada.

But, sure enough, with Ichiro on 2B and Kennedy on 1B, that's a grrrreeeeaaaaat play.   It's a super gutsy play, but the correct one, and that's what championship poker is all about.  Playing correctly even when it's scary to do so.

Fangraphs says that the M's win probability was 24% before the CS, and 14% after.  Would it have been 30% or higher with a successful (70%-odds) steal?  Undoubtedly.

Turning point of the game?  Look no farther.  Kennedy is 38-and-8 stealing bases the last three years.  He just didn't get this one.  Ahhhhhh, slap me silly.  That's life.


PROPS TO ERIC WEDGE for not only defending Ichiro, but for defending him with gusto.  There's going through the motions, and there's swinging from your seat.  Wedge defended that double-steal off the back leg, and once again he and Ichiro were the only people in Seattle that understood that baseball play.


McCann bragged that he was ready for the steal attempt.  He read Ichiro's body language, don'cha know, so he had knowledge that they were going to steal, and this allowed him to throw Kennedy out, winning the ballgame.

Like Woody Allen said, what I wouldn't give for a large sock filled with horse manure.  Yeah, Brian, you're ready for baserunners to steal when you play baseball and you're catching that day.  

Good stuff.  What say you tell us about some game close and late, they went for the double steal and WOW!, you weren't really ready to throw?

McCann's game-winning throw is more impressive without fish stories attached.  It would have stood up well on its own merits.


Go get 'em tomorrow,

Dr D



ghost's picture on Pineda.
When he left the game in the 7th, they caught a glimpse of him in the dugout...he was rubbing his pitching shoulder with a pained look on his face and shaking his head.  Maybe he's the best actor in the world on the mound and doesn't show when his arm feels numb, but his manner out there looked scary to me.  The 7th inning, everything was up except the sliders.  He paced around the mound for half a minute between every pitch.  He did shake his arm around a few times.  He shook off the catcher more than normal.  And his velocity dropped early in the inning (then he gritted his teeth and threw as hard as he could with people on base...and he managed to muscle up for 96 mph not-as-well-located fastballs).
He needs a skipped turn.  He looked terrible at the end of that game to me.
On the other hand, I was impressed that Pineda already intuitively knows how to pitch like an old school 1910s deadball star (read: he knows his team is going to ask him to throw more innings than he should, so he knows how to dial back his velocity, hit corners and save energy for when he really needs it in tough spots).  I don't have exact numbers, but would be winning to guess that Pineda's fastball velo last night was 91.8 (sic) with the bases empty and 96.5 with a runner in scoring position. :)

KingCorran's picture

SBs work 70% of the time.  Double steal = 0.7 * 0.7 = 0.49.  Less than even (if only barely) odds of success, and the negative outweighs the positive.
Nope, still the wrong call.  I love Ichiro's game and will defend him against a lot of the stupid nitpicking thrown his way (while considering the not-stupid nitpicking ^_^), but this was a boneheaded move start-to-finish.
As has been noted elsewhere... a success means a 3-0 Smoak gets the obvious IBB, which he probably was going to get anywhere.  NET GAIN ZERO, despite the risk.


Is that every swing he takes is purposeful.  If he's swinging to foul off a pitch, that was his intention.  He's not desperately trying to stay alive, he's intentionally trying to stay alive.
"If I put that pitch in play, it's an out.  Foul it off, try again."
I've been VERY impressed with his ability to take a high-outside fastball the other way for extra bases, to turn low-and-away curves in to base hits and to hit for power in his wheelhouse.
But I've always been impressed with him.  When he was hitting .260 I thought it was the most diamond-hard .260 I'd seen in a while.  He hit EVERYthing hard, it just found gloves.
When he misses it's by centimeters.  When he connects like he wants to it's a laser.
For the last 7 years I've desperately missed Gar.  I loved his at-bats because every one was special.  There was no time when I thought, "oh man, this guy is overmatching my hitter, maybe we can get lucky."  I always expected 2-for-4-with-a-walk from Gar, and knew we had a shot to score in his innings, because he was intimidated by nothing and no one.
Ackley has that same feeling as a rookie.  No situation is too big for him.  He's the college hitter of the decade, future All-Star, and so what if the guy on the mound is throwing 96?  They're the ones who should have to swallow hard and man up, not him.
I.  Love. It.
At the end of 2010 we had a prayer.  Please, send us some kids who can make an impact.
Justin Smoak has been everything I could hope for.  Is he wrestling with better scouting reports on him?  A bit, sure.  He's also batting .230 left-handed with a .266 BABIP.  That's gonna go up.  His walks don't vary.  So far his power is basically exactly the same month to month - pencil him in for 6 doubles and 4 HRs per.  36 2B and 24 HRs by the end of the year would be a terrific debut. .250/.350/.450 would be a nice first full year, and that's where he's sitting right now, with a bunch of bad luck dragging that line down.  He's a talent.
Dustin Ackley looks even more sure of himself than Smoak, if that's even possible.  I figured lefties would still be giving him serious trouble for a year or two until he saw enough of them to make the necessary adjustments, but he flattened them in AAA and he's been doing wonderful things against tough lefties in the bigs too.  He knows and owns the strike zone, and his walks will increase as he keeps hurting people who pipe fastballs hoping to get him out and they move out of the zone.  He's a talent, and I agree, should be a MOTO hitter as well, #3 to Smoak's #4 with him hitting lefties like this.
Michael Pineda has been doing things that make the other guys look like also-rans.  He's lapping the field in the ROY voting at the half-way point with an ERA firmly under 3, and is making the reigning Cy Young pitcher look like the 2nd best pitcher on his own team.  His top-10 leaderboard is like a grenade of awesome: 3rd in K/9, 4th in H/9, 6th in WHIP, 6th in ERA, 7th in pitcher-WAR, 8th in ERA+... he's just awesome.  Oh, and did I mention he's the 7th-youngest player in the league?
We begged for one great young player, and were given three.  It sadly hasn't been enough so far this year to put us over the hump.  Gutierrez and Figgins, two guys we were counting on to be league-average bats at glove positions, are instead both posting OPS+ numbers under 40.
But having those three players, great young players, will be a boon for this year and years to come.
Zduriencik now just needs to figure out how to help them out with more pieces.  If Guti is going the way of Rocko Baldelli, then Halman needs to prove he can man CF and not embarrass himself at the plate.  He's doing a good job of both, but needs more time to show it.  I assume if and when we fall out of the race Halman will get that time.
We need another thumper in the lineup, a better backup catcher with the potential to take over from Olivo at some point, a better plug at 3B long-term than Kennedy, more bullpen help...
But I keep looking at the roster and we don't look THAT far off.  1B, 2B, SS, starting C, and 4 starters are locks.  3B, CF, LF and DH are spots that need either internal or external options to step up.  RF needs a full-time Ichiro resurgence, and then a plan for competing either with or without him in RF after next season.  And there are some bullpen adds to make to shore it up.
Smoak, Pineda, and Ackley added to Felix gives us 4 All-Star-capable performers going forward (leaving Ichiro out for a second). Jack still has work to do, but man...we've got the makings of a great core.  We need him to get that work done this trade deadline and offseason, though. 
No more waiting.  The meal's almost cooked, so don't tell me it isn't.


The catcher can only attempt to throw out one runner. So the odds don't change simply because there are two runners.
But what did happen? Was it Ichiro's decision which Kennedy was just reacting to? In which case did Kennedy get a late start?

ghost's picture to wind up like the 1997 Mariners...a fabulous core of talent and absolutely ZERO depth behind that talent. Winning franchises don't just develop all-stars...they also develop nice average players that contribute. The Mariners got the maximum they could from their marquee prospects...that's great. Now they need to get more from the B prospects. This team would be comfortably leading the west and laughing their way to WS contention if we'd gotten average production in CF, LF and DH even WITH a flattened Figgins and no back-up catcher. If our mediocre prospects (Saunders, Halman, Peguero, Carp) had been the kinds of guys who projected better to be at least average...rather than being 20% shots at a monster and 80% to wash out a la Peguero)...we'd be contending.
This is not an 81 OPS+ team the same way that last year's club was an 80 OPS+ club for much of the yeqar. Last year's club was an 80 OPS+ offense with no upside at all...a bunch of 80 OPS+ bats, hard on the barrel-head. This year's club is 3 all-stars, 2 role players, 2 benchies having UP years, and 5 struggling rookies who, at any moment could explode and replace the 2 dead weight veterans (Figgins, Gutierrez). If only we could get even two of those 5 struggling rookies to do something useful. Halman, Peguero, Saunders, Carp, Wilson...which one of them can give us a 100 OPS+ in LF and DH at a minimum?

ghost's picture

Ichiro called that play on his own, and I don't think Kennedy expected it. He took off running about two steps later than Ichiro did on the replays and that implies he was merely reacting and hoping McCann was going to throw to third.

ghost's picture

I don't buy the math either. If Ichiro and Kennedy both succeed, you ahve bases loaded one out GUARANTEED...if they both stay put, there's so chance Smoak walks, but not all 3-0 counts go to walks...the success rate there is not much better than the success rate for a steal.


There's no arguing with the run expectancy matrix.
With two runners on, you have a normal SB atempt ... with the "house vigorish" of one free bonus base to the offense, whatever happens.  As baseball percentages go, a free base during a play is a big percentage.
No surprise that double steals are underrated.  I think the only reason they're not used more, is that the trailing runner can't get quite as good a jump.
I see what you're saying about the high % chance of an eventual walk in that situation, though.  If Ichiro was missing something, that might have been it...
But then again, what is Smoak's RBI % chance in a 3-1 count, vs. 0-0?

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