M's Playoff Odds Steady at 2.2%
Specials at the bar, Dept.


.... according to both BaseballProspectus and MLB.com.  They've both got it at 2.2%, one in fifty.  Dr. D continues to insist that any talented longshot has a better chance than that in real life.  Of course, Jobu has not exactly been sending us birthday cards at the half-year lately.  

The M's are -8 under .500 and the last WC spot is actually sinking ... the Angels are +3, Balmer +4, Texas +2 and those are realistically the teams to beat.  Being 5-6 games behind the leaders in mid-August is not, objectively speaking, a situation in which you tip your King over and resign.

James demonstrated, about twenty years ago, that Cinderella teams tend to jell around two or three heroic performances "and then everybody gets caught up in the excitement."  The Mariners have well-and-truly proven that they have zero interest in doing that.  So we'll grovel the question "Can the rotation jell and string together a bunch of lockdown performances?"

Three guys could, Felix, Taijuan and WBC-san.  The back of the rotation (Montgomery and ... Nuno?!) is not a good candidate for that, not unless they're going to press James Paxton into service and/or let Tom Wilhelmsen put his 6'6" frame into the first inning.  The Angels or Red Sox might do that, but the Mariners passed on doing so even last year when they missed by -1 game.

Anyway, Dr. D is bemused that this team, despite every valiant effort to the contrary, remains in striking distance.  He gets watch the Rangers series out of one eye with some modicum of interest.  It's not quite too late to rouse the Mariners' tepid postseason appetite.



1.268 - His OPS the last 30 days.  That means his AVERAGE at bat puts him around first base and 20 feet on towards second.  Nice secondary lead.

15 - His homers the last 30 days.  Consider how we'd have reacted if Dustin Ackley had gone for 15 homers in any year to date.

181 - Cruz' (preposterous) OPS+.  Achieved in 494 plate appearances to date.

155 - Hank Aaron's career OPS+.  

168 - Ty Cobb's career OPS+.  This was an era in which the average player was very easy to defeat.

147 - Edgar Martinez' career OPS+.  His career highwater mark was 187, the year he saved baseball in Seattle.

The moral to the story is that Nelson Cruz is having Edgar Martinez' career year.  Well, okay, it looks more like Hank Aaron's career year.  You will still get people telling you that he's an average player having a surprisingly good year by his standards.  Fine, if you would say the same about Edgar.


Will Cruz give us 1 more year at a 140+ OPS?  Will he give us two years?  Three years?  How do you know?

The usual approach isn't worth much.  That's the way where you figure out a GOOD template, four or five "true" characteristics of the player type, and track their ages.  Cruz has 'roided up and the effects -- such as sharper eyesight -- are obviously persisting long-term.

Tony Blengino, who tosses out compliments to Mariner ballplayers like Diderot gushing praise over Ann Coulter :- ) lists Cruz as the #4 offensive force in the AL and says

4 – Nelson Cruz – 188 – He’s cooled off significantly since his monster April, but his offensive game has stabilized as he’s honed some of its rough edges in recent years. His walk rate percentile rank bounced up to 62 in 2014 and 67 so far this year, and his liner-rate percentile rank, which has never been above average, has been in the mid-40s both years. He’s likely peaked, but his decline now projects to be less sudden than it once did. He still shouldn’t play the outfield.


He says in another article, the pros and cons of pulling the baseball,


Nelson CruzJose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion have mastered the art of selectively pulling the baseball in the air. Cruz’ 2.35 fly ball pull ratio was higher than his 2.22 line drive pull ratio. In previous articles on this topic, I have referred to “contact scores”, which are generated by placing each batted ball into a league average park, in a league average context based solely and exit speed and angle. Cruz’ 2014 contact score of 241 ranked 10th in the AL last season. Abreu had a 1.70 fly ball pull ratio, compared to a 1.42 liner pull ratio. His fly ball contact score of 301 ranked 3rd in the AL last season. Encarnacion’s fly ball pull ratio was an insane 3.62, highest among all MLB qualifiers last season, and just higher than his liner pull ratio of 3.38. His fly ball contact score of 278 ranked 5th in the AL last season.

Those three players swim against the tide by pulling the ball in the air more so than they do on a line, squeezing out more home run power in the process. That payoff can come at a cost. Obviously, most power hitters concede some contact in exchange for more power, often striking out at a much higher rate than their peers. Power hitters also tend to pop up at a higher than league average rate. The largest single sacrifice they often make, however, is a sneaky one. More power generally means more pulling in the air, which as the table above tells us, means more pulling on the ground.


In other words, if you ASSUME that Ketel Marte's first swing tonight will be a high fly ball, then there's about an even chance that he'll be able to pull the ball (and with associated steam on the ball).  Very often an ML hitter gets the ball in the air because it was a reaction, late, swing.  That's why shifts are in the infield only -- often the infield will be overshifted for a pull WHILE the outfield is shifted exactly the opposite way.

Cruz, though, if you ASSUME he's going to hit the ball in the air -- the odds are way in favor of his getting the bat out in front.  Very rare, and very dangerous.  Blengino's paradigm is "granular ball-in-play" data, looking backwards in time at how often batters have hit the ball hard.  Cruz' granular BIP profile is bizarrely sound.

Here is one more Fangraphs post, praising Cruz as a legitimate late bloomer.  The comments section is predictably and amusingly sour, trying to deflect attention onto Cruz' defense.  This despite the fact that Fangraphs has him at $36.0M worth of value supplied this year.  But the comments from "james wilson" down are kind of interesting.

(Dewan has Cruz at -7 runs lost defensively, compared to UZR's -17.  This would put Cruz' WAR at 5.5 instead of 4.5, precisely matching his actual Win Probability Added of 5.5.  And would put his value at $44M so far in 2015.  Watching the games, I can't imagine that Cruz has cost the Mariners 17 runs in 69 ! defensive games.  That's a pace of -40 defensive runs in a full season; he has looked like an average outfielder.)


So we'll go with Bill James here:  "Cruz is year-to-year, but could reasonably continue five more years."  Well, here's betting that age 37 is Cruz' outer limit for stardom, as it was Raffy Palmeiro's.



Normally, Dr. D enjoys the attempt to convert a reliever to a starter or vice-versa.  In Nuno's case, we'll make an exception.

1.  The template blows chunks.  You tell me, the last effective starter you saw with Nuno's "arsenal."  We're talking short lefty sidearm soft-tossers who leave the ball up in the zone.

1a.  Career SLG vs right hand hitters, .493.  That's backwards-looking.  Forward looking, we'll plump for .593.

2.  The M's have fallen in love with sidearm sliders, but Nuno's (which he throws 40% !! of the time) is mushy.  That much we can tell you with conviction.

3.  Why are we even talking about this?  See point 2, first part.  You want to give a reliever a shot, what's wrong with Wilhelmsen?  6'6", overhand, starter's rhythm, 95 MPH, yellow hammer, emerging change.


Bah humbug,

Dr D




Whoa, Felix Hernandez today--worst start by a great pitcher ever?
Asked by: matt_okeefe
Answered: 8/15/2015
It is one of the worst, yes. . ..in fact, I wouldn't say that there is anything more dramatic in my data base. Randy Johnson in 1994 (5-4-1994) gave up 11 runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Blue Jays, Game Score -5; Randy WAS a great pitcher by then. That scores at Negative 5; Felix today was Negative 6. Roy Halladay and Zack Greinke both had worse games, but in both cases before they had become great pitchers.
So here the M's were on a run going into Fenway, trying to climb out of the coffin, and then .... THE most cursed start ever by a pitcher in major league baseball.  (You know what I mean.)
Jobu Lives!

Trading David Bell for Jeff Cirillo started a disasterous chain of events from which we haven't apparently haven't yet recovered. First, Cirillo was bad. Second, Cirillo was reportedly a sourpuss. Third, we traded away good farm arms in Denny Stark and Brian Fuentes who paid immediate dividends for Colorado and could have been really handy here. Fourth, David Bell had his career year after he left. Fifth, Cirillo's contract was so bad it hampered the M's management, as they couldn't just sink the costs and move on. Sixth, Jeff Cirillo was terrible.  Seventh, because Cirillo sucked and Bell was still good - very good, in fact - the hole went from big to gaping. But actually it went from gaping to Grand Couleeish when you add to to all the lost WAR, the added salary constraints, the necessity to play him day after day, the loss of valuable young pitching.

Later, Jeff Cirillo returned as a ghost who we know better as Chone Figgins.  Later he appeared in the form of Dustin Ackley.

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