A Ron Fairly Urban Myth, Relived Before Our Eyes
well, we call it an 'urban myth' ... I guess Ron would know

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Ron Fairly told the story about 50 times on the M's network.  His '60's Dodgers teams would trot out for the first with Sandy Koufax on the mound, ready to battle for the lead because once they had it, there was no way he was losing it.

So ..... about the 2nd inning, the Dodgers would grovel a run and then somebody would go tell Sandy, "OK, THERE's your LEAD!"  with the semi-tongue-in-cheek idea that, why's it harder to hold a 4-3 lead than a 1-0 lead.  :- /

The M's inflicted that on Zeus yesterday.  Bottom of 2nd, one out, Kyle Seager blonked a long line drive into the corner for a long single.  Ryon Healy blonked a short single that fell in front of the CF.  And when Ben Gamel shattered his bat on a ball that fell in between the IF and OF ... well, there's your lead.  A soft RBI for sure.  

But Zeus was gettin' any more.  The Royals had some kid with a bad baseball face, throwing really good baseball pitches, and runs weren't gonna be found.

......

And didn't need any more.  The remarkable thing about the game, for me, was the 3-pitch mix.  I do believe that was the most comfortable Paxton has been with all three pitches, with the possible exception of the 16-K game.  Would that be a sign of evolution?

He was 9-for-12 with the cutter-slider-fosh-slash and consistently threw it at the knees, to break below the zone, back foot to righties.  Importantly, he LOOKED ready to throw it at any time.  He looked like he wanted to throw the pitch.  On just the 12 of them, he drew 5 swings and misses.  (16/66 with the four-seamer, 2/7 with the 2-seamer, 3/25 with the curve which they consistentenly banged foul into the dirt.  But that's 26 swingthoughs in a single day.)

He was 18-for-25 in total strikes of all kinds with the hook, consistently keeping it either low, or outside.  .... you saw the fastball, averaging 97, max 99.6.  As usual, late in the game he went to his tasty mantra of "challenge at 98-99" and the Royals just kep' on a-swingin' thru.  As you can see by this Brooks map.

......

One midgame worry:  he had thrown 71 pitches after 4, or about that, leaving him on pace for .... 6 innings.  How'd he get to 8?  You'll have to figure it out for me.  But when he did, he handed the ball straight to Sugar for the 1-2-3-strikeout inning.

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PLAYOFFS

WC WL GB
BoSox 56-29
Seattle 54-31
Orcs 46-39 -8.0
Rays 42-41 -11.0

The pesky rodent Angels, were they relevant, are 43-42 and also -11.0.  Let's hope the M's lay some REAL damage to their playoff 'hopes' this week (TIC)

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ALL-STAR GAME

I don't usually watch this game; do you?  And so confess to have zero feel whatsoever how many players Seattle, as a Big Four team, is going to see bypassed.  Help me out here?

  1. Edwin Diaz is like 50 saves ahead of whoever's #2.  You pass him up how?
  2. James Paxton is the #5 pitcher in the league, has the #5 FIP and xFIP to show you for it -- and is probably the league's most exciting pitcher.
  3. Nelson Cruz looks purty good in cutoff shirts.
  4. Mitch Haniger is #2 in RBI, still?
  5. Jean Segura is #2 or #3 in AVG, still?
  6. Don't forget ... {fill in the blank]

My working assumption is that the local, non East-Cost, Big Four team will see one perhaps two players elected.  But you may be of a differen't mind.

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UND TAKE ZIS MIT YOU, Dept.

Divish says this on Twitter:   starters for Seattle: Heaney, TBA, Skaggs. That means Barria is being skipped and TBA could be Richards.

.....

Divish puts another interesting info-graphic on Twitter that we'll throw onto D-O-V.

......

So, you think Big Maple is getting betta?

Enjoy,

Dr D

Blog: 

Comments

1
BrianG's picture

Not sure how it was on TV, but from my last-minute-deal seats up in the Club level his curveball looked just fantastic. It was great to see the M's scratch out a run to get a win out of a pretty great start!

2

Was not the worst day of your life!  :- )

When I have club, I back up to the last 3 rows, so I can watch the monitors ... even a nice little 2-second delay so you can flick your eyes up after the pitch ...

3

I think a large part of Paxton's dominance is Zunino's game calling getting better all the time - perhaps because catching Gonzales makes Mike think about variety instead of just using Paxton's strengths. Like SABRMatt, I try to guess what is called. Over the last few games with Paxton (since the one before the no-hitter) and with Marco, it's gotten impossible for to predict what's coming. He calls more heat with KPax, but several times that curve has come in when heat was his previous norm. Again, I think Zunino is a *major* part of the team's success with both those pitchers.

4

Quite a bit of his defensive skills were developed partially because of how hard he works on things.  To assume he would quit improving defensively at this point (27 for 99 days now) isn't something I'd do with what I know.  Some people do, certainly.  Actually it would be assuming that what he was defensively last year at 26 was his peak.  I guess it's more with game calling than defense.

Consider that he's involved in Felix' abrupt change as well.  Although in all of this I have to believe there's heavy involvement from Stottlemyre.  If so I'd say there's finally plenty of plus to point to from him. 

5

Pictures from Instagram circulating dated today -  had TJ surgery. Nothing official yet, but that dents his standing a bit.

6
tjm's picture

. . . than 16 K's in seven innings, but he seems to be more self-possessed. I think he's just settled in to who he is.

I, too, was worried about the pitch count but he had that six-pitch inning in there that solved a ton of problems.

7

Interesting article by Joe Lemire flagged by Divish on Mariner's techie stuff, like sensor embedded vests and sleeves, and how it is affecting training and performance.

Paxton, LeBlanc, and Gonzales noted as being the most receptive. Paxton said he has been working on tunneling his high fastball and curveball, and slowing down to 75% max effort in bullpens to help in recovery between starts. 

Link: https://www.sporttechie.com/seattle-mariners-james-paxton-analytics-raps...

9
litl_gravy's picture

any post mentioning ron fairly is a tacit mike-blowers-appreciation post. 

thanks doc! 

10

The East Coast bias drives me crazy too, but I dunno if it's really gonna get anybody from the hometown team snubbed this year.

  1. Sugar will absolutely make it. He has to. He leads Kimbrel in saves by 8 (eight!). 32 to 24. The next best guy has 75% of his counting stats, and his rate stats match up fine with anyone. I was watching the game yesterday on the royals' broadcast, and heading into the ninth their color guy asks the ex-player in the booth, "So Pax just blew them down for eight innings, eleven Ks and a ton of ninety-seven fastballs. Would you be happy to see Diaz come in after that?" To which the ex MLBer cuts in "No. Not at all. Nuh uh. You never want to face Edwin Diaz, ever. Never. Not ever." Cracked me up. They've noticed him, is what I'm saying.
  2. I like Zeus's odds just fine. He trails only Severino, Verlander and Sale for pitcher WAR. Moreover, he had a 16K game, then a no-hitter in Canada, and then a freaking eagle landed on him. So again, I think people've noticed. Luckiliy pitchers are chosen by the managers, which helps dodge the East Coast Bias.
  3. Nelson's great, but JD Martinez is slashing .324/.391/.634, and leading the world in HRs. Maybe Nelly sneaks in as a second DH, but he's lost the #1 argument fair and square.
  4. Ditto our man the Maniger, much as I love him. RBIs are cool, but largely due to Jean the Hit Machine and Flash Gordon setting him up for success. He's running way behind Trout, Betts and Judge for WAR, not to mention some mook named Eddie Rosario and Andrew Benintendi. He looks like he's on the bubble to me, and that's fair. Would they carry six outfielders? Probably not?
  5. Jean Segura trails Lindor and Andrelton Simmons, and depending on how much you hate Machado's defense he's only edging him (and his .941OPS) by a hair. Which isn't to say he won't make it! Simmons' defense doesn't show up on the stat sheet, so that hurts him. Counterpoint, Machado is the only deserving player on the O's, so he sorta gets in automatically. Do they snub the #2 AVG hitter, at SS no less, as a late bench addition? I hope not. I bet he sneaks in.

All that said, I personally stopped caring about the All Star game that one year the Royals sent seven undeserving players. That was the moment it lost all credibility for me, like when Donald talked about grabbing women by the locker room banter (ducks). Or maybe it was all those times they sent Jeter, even when he had negative WAR, and then some @$%&*# threw him underhand softballs to make him look good. The whole thing is a joke, and not a particularly funny one.

11

The Diaz anecdote.  I appreciated it. 

Agreed on him and Paxton.  Gordon doesn't fully have a position, instead he's got flexibility.  Consequently I expect him to make the bench.  Too bad about Segura, Haniger and even Cruz and Seager although there's still possibility.  If the game were in Seattle I'd guess they'll make it in eventually ("... say no more").  Haniger being 8th in OF WAR (FG) leaves us some consolation.  Marcel Ozuna was that last year, Jose Ramirez the year before.  I do still think there's more there but that's already really good. Well, that's in MLB.  Lorenzo Cain is in the NL.  So Haniger is just in the wrong league to be #2 OF starter.

I'd say if they don't get 3 in I'll be mildly annoyed.  Basically what we're seeing otherwise is the #2-4 AL offense, depending what you're using to rate them, potentially not having a single player on the All Star team.  Don't worry, their middle of the pack pitching should be doubly represented. 

12

You really think Dee might make it? That's a good catch. I suppose he is hitting .280 and leading the league in steals, which might trick ill-informed fans into voting for him without realizing he's got a .302 OBP, .344 SLG and O.2 WAR.

I think your over/under at 2.5 Mariner Allstars makes sense. I figure Diaz is a lock, Pax is like 85% (maybe gets snubbed if AJ Hinch wants to load up on relievers / stack the team with Astros starters, the second of which would be pretty gross). So if you expect those two, all you need is one of the hitters to sneak onto the club, and that seems likely. Haniger 30%, Cruz 30%, Segura 40% and Gordon 10% still equals a pretty good shot.

13

Sugar yes, Pax yes*, Segura maybe. Anyone else likely has no real chance, unless the injury/DNP bug gets going really good this year.

All Star game is a fun exhibition. I just enjoy it for what it is - "A" collection of the game's best, rather than "THE" collection of the game's best. Keeping that perspective, it's always fun.

15

Yep, I'm definitely gonna keep it. I came to the realization when Sherm signed with The Enemy: I like him more than I like the Seahawks. Which isn't to minimize my Hawks fandom, which will surely persist with verve and vigor long after Richard has hung up his cleats and become governor of California. But I look at Sherm the same way some of us looked at Ichiro when he went to the Yankees. Maybe more so. People used to say, "I hope Ich goes 4-4 and the Mariners still win." In this case, I hope that in the first Hawks-9ers clash of the year Sherm intercepts Russell, stiff-arms Doug to the ground on the TD return, and then taunts Pete Carroll on his way back to the sidelines. Of course I hope the Hawks win in spite of that, but I care way more about Sherm getting the last laugh than I do about us winning that particular regular season game.

Assuming he can still run after snapping his achilles, letting Sherm leave is one of the worst decisions the Carroll/Schneider brain trust has ever made. He not only elevated the defense with his phenomenal play, he also gave the entire team a psychological edge which they have now lost, and will have to spend some amount of time reclaiming. He invented the Seahawks dynasty of the past decade, one characterized by brash overachievers whose intelligence and tenacity overwhelmed opponents and ground them into dust. He will be missed by most, and mourned by the few who truly loved him.

16
tjm's picture

On the All-Stars. Quit caring ages ago and watch bits and pieces of the game at most, but it's good for building the fan base. Plus, good for the players. Might mean a lot to somebody like Segura.

Interesting piece, lampoon. Thx.

18

Wasn't it Paxton that made a comment about how amazing it would be to make the All Star team?

19

When was the last time somebody hitting .335 at the break didn’t make the All-Star squad?  Over his last 2.5 seasons he’s hitting something like .316 with and OBP of .360.  At the same ages (26-28), Clemente hit something like .326-.365.  Segura has slugged about .470, Clemente was about .490.  He’s Clemente-lite, but not very -lite.  

Clemente hit .300+ in 8 of the remaining 9 seasons he played.  There is no such guarantee of that kind of Segura run, but when was the last time a RHB such as he forgot how to hit at age 29?  

BTW, if you are not concerned about Heredia’s bat, you should consider it.  I suppose he has to hit LHP at some point (.553 this season) but he may continue to crash vs. RHP (.702 and sliding).  

He’s settled right in to his normal 84-ish OPS+ which wouldn’t be too bad if his CF glove was plus.  It hadn’t been this season.  -0.4 dWAR and he’s running an UZR/150 of about -12, right where he was last season.

he does hardly ever swing at balls outside the zone, however.

All in all, I remain not quite impressed.  

20
tjm's picture

Mo - You've beat that dead horse so long I'm gonna . . . pick up a shovel and join in the fun. I thought he'd at least be average offensively, but the last two weeks he hits nothing but lazy fly balls to shallow right. He looks better than that defensively to me and these numbers migth be lying, but, yeah, time for official concern.

Can Bishop play any CF? It's only a month til Cano comes back.

21

From the very beginning of this season, I've thought there's something wrong with Guillermo's swing path. It looks to me like he is swinging in a bizarre uppercut, aimed straight at the right-center gap. He appears to be attempting to both hit the ball in the air, and maintain a constant inside-out swing. Both laudable goals in the abstract, but he looks like he's taken them way, way too far. The swing is so slashy/loopey that he can't really adapt it part way through, one of the hallmarks of good opposite field hitters. It also appears to be the exact opposite of a level, KBIZLT swing. Instead he whips the bat through at a sharp angle, not only upward, but circular. The bat looks like it enters the zone tilted maybe twenty degrees behind the plate, and then he tries to whip it around to compensate. As a result he can cover elevated pitches away, where his swing plane actually lines up okay, and elevated pitches inside, provided he gets the bat-head a mile out in front and keeps it fair. His heat maps bear this out: he's hitting high-away pitches and jam pitches. What he isn't hitting is anything low in the zone, or in the middle(!) of the plate.

I held my silence at the beginning of the year, because he wasn't playing at all, and then later when he went on a tear. While he was hot, I wondered whether he was just two steps ahead of me, and maybe there was some genius to his swing that made it work. Now I've pretty much written him off. I hope you like occasional ropes down the foul lines and a million routine flies to right, because I dunno how he can do anything else without drastically overhauling his swing.

22

Agree that his D “eyeballs” as average, which is why I ran to fangraphs to get a UZR number.  But that turned out decently bad, too.  

I will thrash this dead horse no more!  :)

Well, not for a couple of days, anyway.  I have commented before that he swings out of his shoes but doesn’t get many XB hits.  I always found that concerning.  

I am ready to see Bishop or Andreoli or Miller or Aplin for a short bit.  In that order, well, maybe Miller over Andreoli.  Bishop remains highly rated for his CF glove.  He can’t hit any worse than Heredia has for the last month and he just might field better in CF.  

24

Speaking of whom, he has seemed to have taken a leap in hitting. Over 27 games since June 1 his slash line is 362/419/517 and BB/K of 0.67. 

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