SABRMatt's Prediction for the 2016 M's
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THEY SAID WE COULDN'T LAND THE BIG BOOKING!  So what do you have to say about THIS, LrKrBoi29.  Live and in the studio.  Yankee$ powerbroker, SABR speaker, New Jersey-hardened and nimbly able to cheer or slag the Seattle Mariners as his slide rule commands him.

Let's get straight to the white meat.  We'll ladle on the gravy thrice deep in a moment:


M's SABRMatt's WAR Steamer Dr. D remark
Ianetta/Clevinger 0.0 1.7 + 0.4 (These spaces intentionally left blank
Lind/Montero 2.5 1.5 + 0.2    for future use)
Cano 4.0 3.5
Marte 0.5 1.8
Aoki 1.0 1.0
Martin 0.5 1.2
Smith/Guti 2.0 1.2 + 0.6
Cruz 3.5 1.6
Felix 4.5 4.3
Iwakuma 2.0 2.9
Miley 2.0 1.9
Karns 2.0 1.3
Taijuan 1.5 2.4
K-Pax, SP6 vs SP7 0.0 (+1 vs -1) 0.8 + 0.0
Cishek 0.5 0.2
Benoit 1.0 0.3
Other top RP 1.0 1.7
Scrubs  -2.5 0.0 Steamer allows no -0.5's
Seager 4.5 3.7 Forgot to type him in :- )
TOTAL 31.5 34.2


The above numbers add to 31.5 in SABRMatt's column, which he explains as "That's a 75 win team. (46 wins from the margin, 17 from the offense/fielding and 12 from the pitching."   You'll have to ax him how 31.5 adds to 46 and 75 and stuff.  Just ... 

NOBODY PANIC!  NOBODY PANIC!  ... oh yeah ... nobody was panicking.  Heh.  

... Right now I ain't going to get into the issue of how these WAR numbers add up for the squad proper, how the #20-40 players total -15 WAR, and how "assuming everybody to 'regress toward average' is correct" and all that stuff.   (Many times in sabermetrics, if you assume league-average outcome across the board, you gave "predicted" the future better than projections have.)  

Suffice it to say that if Team X surprises UP and Team Y surprises LO, the projections will certainly not have pointed that way.  There are too many MECHANICAL moving parts in a 25-man machine,  And, as a completely separate issue, spiritual effects that cast a net teamwide are of course not measured.  Taking it to the logical extreme:  You can beat most projections by simply assuming the average.  But that doesn't help much, does it?

We're just using the table to chitchat about this player or that.  Thanks Matt!


SABRMatt DISlikes the following players quite a bit more than the robot does:

  • Chris Ianetta
  • Ketel Marte
  • Leonys Martin
  • Taijuan Walker

And he likes the following players much more than the robot does:

  • Nelson Cruz
  • Nate Karns

Obviously the above bullet lists are a reasonable way, one reasonable way, to vary from the machine.  


You could also posit this whole thing as a betting table from top to bottom.  In any given weekend, the NFL games line up from heaviest favorite down to "Pick 'Em," like this:

  • 1 Seahawks 5.5 over @Vikings
  • 2 Chiefs 3 over @Texans
  • 3 Steelers 2.5 over @Bengals
  • 4 @Redskins 1.5 over Packers

Oh.  Hold it.  You're supposed to type that "Washington," not "Redskins," if you're enlightened.  But another kind of enlightenment is to ASK Native Americans what they prefer, and they overwhelmingly prefer the Redskins NOT change their name.  

By the way, Dr. D does not wager, on the philosophical grounds that money should be exchanged between human beings on the basis of fair goods and services received.   There you go!  Two unannounced KK points.  Make of them what you will.  Hope we didn't deflower your virgin philosophical ears :- )


Back on point, if you were betting NFL games and the robot accepted EVEN odds for every game, your first choice would be the Seahawks.  Your coefficient of confidence would be highest.

Too long an intro here, Dr. D!  Get to the punch line.  Which is, if I were to be Mariner performance to exceed STEAMER's guesses, it would go something like this:

  • 1 Nelson Cruz (sucker bet at 1.6 WAR; had 4.8 and 3.7 the last two years)
  • 2 James Paxton (the embryo Paxton has 2.1 WAR already in 30 starts; once he's in the rotation he's not coming out)
  • 3 Joaquin Benoit (especially in Safeco)
  • 4 Adam Lind
  • 5 Steve Cishek (because you've got 0.2 WAR against a highly-paid closer)
  • 6 Felix (4.3 is a lot, but he went way over that +6 straight times, until last year)
  • 7 Ketel Marte (only needs to play fulltime, decently, to exceed 1.8, and has little competition)
  • 8 Karns, at that number

In other words, STEAMER's "regression" scenario takes place if ALL our Stars, and most exciting Scrubs, fail together.  But that's the nature of regression.

Where would Dr. D bet the under?  Well, any of the pitchers can get injured; that's cheating.  But Iwakuma at 2.9, with his injuries, that's probably a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio bet against (so very safe).  If you get to October with him on a roll, of course, he's the equivalent of a 5.0 WAR pitcher for you.

Position players:  I like Chris Ianetta but a Great. Many. Things. can happen to land him short of 1.7 WAR.  By Great Many Things we mean Mike Zunino, or yes indeed Steve Clevenger, or Ianetta aging, or the staff not synch'ing with him and Ianetta just going part time a lot ...

Objectively speaking, Marte and Martin have excellent chances to lose their jobs.  And early.


Personally, I find it much easier to find OVER bets than UNDER.  It says here that is in the nature of 2015's DWN season.


You, gentle reader, are adopting which player against the projections?


Dr D



The main reason I doubt Marte and Martin is because they both obtain some of their value from walks that they don't have a skill for drawing (not like Martin is a high OBP guy, but he doesn't show the strike zone judgment of a man who should walk 50-60 points, and certainly Marte was never a walk taker before he magically was last year at the big league level).

There are two ways to draw lots of walks in MLB...have a really REALLY good eye for the zone and an approach that is patient and stubborn...or be a power hitter.  Marte and Martin are neither of those things.  I think SS and CF are going to be catastrophic black holes for the 2016 Mariers and will continue to think that until they prove me wrong.

And FWIW...I've also learned to be skeptical of players with very low BABIPs who are 34 years old or older.  I don't think those guys are good bets to bounce back to "career norms" in that regard.  So no betting the high side of Iannetta.

I believe I am most likely to be very wrong on the bullpen, Paxton, Walker and Karns (meaning most likely to be underestimating) and most likely to be wrong the other way on King Felix and Cano.


I definitely have doubts on Marte, but there is a fan post from December 30th by JJ Keller over at LL that addresses the Marte future. While the article contains a few nice nuggets like:

- "Marte" somehow had the 25th BEST age 21 wRC+ since 1985, and the top 80th in the live ball ERA last year ... and he did it in just 3 months.

- The list of 21 year olds since 1985 that have had over 200 at bats and 1. BB% greater than 8%, 2. K% less than 20%, 3. OBP greater than .330, and 4. ISO greater than .100 is REALLY impressive and diverse... and there is a high percentage from this list that are MLB regulars / STARS for many many years.

- Most of these same guys from the above list had a small dip in their age 22 year

But what really caught my eye were two comments made on the article that I combined into one:

Comps for Ketel need to come from much farther back than 1985.

Tony Fernandez is decent comp, but was so much better defensively than most guys, Ketel included, it’s hard to see that as a close comp. Rennie Stennett comes to mind. He debuted at 20, and was a second baseman. Same low BB, low K, low ISO guy with speed. There were concerns with Marte’s footwork and arm strength for SS; he’s allayed those for now, but in these respects he may profile at 2B down the road like Stennett, who was just rounding into perennial All-Star form when he shattered his ankle and was never the same.

Inserted from other comment... I use Stennett because I was familiar with him, but fact is guys with the profile of Ketel Marte used to be far more common in the majors before the steroid era. Most of them were Latins, though by no means all. PEDs really changed the profile so that guys like this suddenly started hitting 20 HRs a season, and in trying to keep that up their AVG usually came down about 30 points from what they would have been, to me. Another guy who might be a comp for Ketel from back in that time would be Bill Matlock, who developed a bit more power, but was a poorer defender too. But going back into the 60s and the 50s you could find 12-20 guys like this; every team used to have one or two, although usually without any BBs to speak of and so less valuable.

The larger point is that comps based on the last 20 years are simply an inadequate base to project anything, not simply due to performance distortions but because different styles of batter offense have much deeper histories. Cross-era comparisons have problems, sure, but expanding the relationship set has the possibility to focus assessment more clearly. Not saying Stennett is a perfect comp, only that guys with Ketel’s present profile have had a history of long and productive major league careers in the live ball era. They are not flukes, it is an approach that can succeed for the guys who actually make excellent contact.

I expected Ketel to get buried in the high minors with his no BB, low ISO profile, but he turned out to be the high SD type for that profile, and really impressed me. Marte does an excellent job of making contact, has the eye and discipline to command the strike zone, and has good bat speed with a LD swing. He puts a charge into a ball when he squares if up, but isn’t swinging to put the ball in the air, and appropriately so, so his HR numbers will never be high. His ISO may well go up due to doubles and triples if he makes hard contact against more strikes. I’m hopeful on that. Marte just has better skills than the stat distribution initially suggests.

For a guy what won’t walk, the first attack is to expand the zone on him and get him to chase, and that’s exactly what was tried in AAA and the majors. Thing is, Ketel actually as a good eye for the strike zone, and the discipline to use that, and he refused to chase. Hence his BB rate spiking as he got to the top of the ladder: he wasn’t doing anything different, but the pitchers were, and that drove a change in outcomes. The other alternative is to pound the zone with quality pitches, especially for a guy who hasn’t shown much power. I expect that we’ll see this used in 2016 against Marte quite a bit. If so, his BB% will decline, again not because of him doing anything any differently. The key will be to see if his K% spikes if he’s attacked in the zone. That will decide his career.

What we saw with Taylor as he moved up the ladder was that his always good eye for the zone remained intact, but he crumbled when attacked in the zone so that his K% went way up. Marte did strike out a bit more in the majors after his 2015 promotion, but I’m not seeing that as predictive yet. He was facing the best in the game, and young for the level, and moreover he had of course never seen most of those pitchers before. If pitchers attack him more in 2016 and he can still keep his K% in single digits or close, he’s the real deal.

Marte impressed me a bunch after promotion, and he’s a high energy type too. Don’t be surprised if he’s won the crowd over by the Break if his bat holds up, and I think it will. Ketel may not break out big in 2016, but I do think he’ll beat those projections, beginning a long career. I now like Marte more than Asdrubal Cabrera coming up, and I was a big fan of Cabrera. Mookie Betts with better infield D? DeShields as more than a mirage and rather more pop? That would be quite a guy.


You're quoting I, Balthazar or you ARE him?

Gotta get that straight before replying :- ) but those are some exciting pernts...


I have had a few discussions with Balthazar... usually in debate. However I just really enjoyed his comment here... and thought others should read them as well.


We had similar discussions about how Jose Lopez was destined for greatness because he was decent at a young age,  so I'm skeptical of such general commentary,  except to say it does help provide some template context. 

I don't tend to buy in on the month samples either. 

But hey,  if he keeps his average up at all,  he goes from being written nothing to bring worth three wins really quickly. I will hope this excellent analysis turns out to be right. 


As I think we all know... projecting a 22 year old with limited data that really does not match his minor league numbers is a fools errand... but it is interesting to hear some reasoning behind how different people are throwing that dart.


Just to explain why you get 77.5 wins and I get 76 wins...I had a -1.5 downward adjustment for "the players you don't expect to play but who do play because of injuries or ineffectiveness elsewhere, and are terrible".  Any good projection should include an adjustment like that...most teams wind up using RLPs who don't produce at RLP level at some point.


In AA Marte was .304-.332-.407.  In AAA he was .314-.361-.419.  850 combined PA's there.  In Seattle he was .283-.351-.402.  There is a similarity there, one that points to an established/predictable level of performance.  Even if his walk rate declines by 20 pts, hes still a 100 )PS+ SS.  

And that ain't chopped liver.

In the two previous seasons Martin was a .268-.320-.370/90 OPS+ CF who could go pick it.  In the season he has a hand injury he declines significantly.  Coincidence is unlikley.  He will rebound.

But if he rebounds to only a 75-80- OPS+ guy then he needs to catch all the balls hit to CF AND RF to earn his keep.I could see him augering into the ground as a more likely scenario than I can Marte.  And I could see the Boog BB'ing his way into an everyday job, as well.

If both those guys at <80 OPS+ guys, then our offense need a whole lot of Boomstick/Lind/Seager/Cano.  If they can set the table some, then we've got a tidy run scoring machine.


We all could write similar words about Chris Taylor as well, as he never really recovered from his wrist injury.

Unfortunately as it is with Martin, it remains to be seen IFFFF the reason for his decline was the wrist injury or if others factors were also were a small or significant part of their declines.  


Great stuff all around on Marte...from LL to Balthazar to Rain to Moe.  

But I'd like to move the comparison machine way back past Fernandez and Stennett to the hero shortstop of my youth...Luis Aparicio.  

On the surface, Marte (and few others) couuld ever match Little Louie in most areas:

  • A defensive wizard--his top BRef comp is Ozzzie Smith.  Career 34.6 WAR in defense alone.  Off the charts on all metrics.  Nine gold gloves.
  • The most feared base runner of his era. Nine straight stolen base titles.  
  • The definition of 'eye'.  In more than 11 thouand plate appearances, he struck out exactly SIX more times than he walked.
  • Thirteen different all star games...and an MVP award.

So how can Marte--or anyone else--be compared to him?  Well, the guy wasn't perfect:

  • Despite the eye, his career OBP was only 311 (compared to league-average 329).  He neither struck out NOR walked very much.
  • Career OPS+ was only 82...and exceeded 100 only once in 19 seasons.

Yes, Marte could exceed both of these last metrics.  Last year's performance was fueled by a high BABIP.  But neither contact nor hard contact indicated this was a total fluke.  

But still, how do these two guys EVER compare?

The answer lies in the highly discredited 'eye test'.  What Aparicio did was unnerve opponents.  If the current play against the M's is to keep from facing Cruz in key spots, for the White Sox of that era it was to keep Aparicio off the bases at all costs.  Because what he brought to that team (an AL team that went to the World Series instead of the Mantle/Berra/Skowron/Richardson/Kubek/Ford Yankees in 1959) was energy.  Confidence.  Spirit.  All the things that WAR can't figure out how to measure.

Could Marte be that igniter for the M's?  Well, it depends.  Depends on what Dipoto and Servais tell him--when they explain to him what kind of player they want him to be.  It's impossible to know what Al Lozez said to Aparicio.  And we'll probably never know what's said to Marte--although JD seems pretty open to this point  

But Lopez seems certain to have told Louie some version of 'just be you.  Have fun.'  Aparicio's stolen base percentage of 79% didn't set a record.  Unlikely that anyone chastised him when he got back to the dugout when he was gunned down.  And my guess is this is just the same instruction Marte had from Lloyd.  

Will the new crew try to form-fit him?  Will his inevitable sophomore slumps then be asociated (by him) with trying to be something different?

No way to tell at this point.  But when you've got a fuse that's capable of igniting a team...don't play safe and pour water on it.  

OBF's picture

I'll adopt the poor Prphan Boy, Leonys Martin :)

In 2013 he had a (bRef) WAR of 3.5, in 2015 he had a WAR of 4.6.  Most of that was from defense and being mediocre on offense at a non offensive position.

I'll double down on that and project that Martin will get back to those numbers (maybe slightly less on offense, but MORE on defense...  Don't forget that the expansive SafeCo outfield, and heavy sea air puts a thumb on the defensive scale for any M's CF...  remember when FGutz had like 10 dWar one year ;) ) 

Martin's 2016 War will be -- 3.9  (and only because I was too much of a ninny to write down 4.0 :) )

Thats the 60% projection by the way.  I STILL see a small (but real) 10% chance that Martin thrives offensively as a Mariner (C the Z is contagious, his line drive swing finds more holes in the large expanse of SafeCo grass, Edgar sprinkles some magic dust, getting to be in a very Latino clubhouse agrees with him)


He better bat 9th!  His .305 career OBP (.317 vR with the platoon), and lack of pop, certainly doesn't indicate he should bat anywhere else, and he "decent" speed (76% SB Avg.) backs up nicely with Marte.  

A reminder, as well...if you eliminate as many of his vL PA's as possible, he becomes a career .700 hitter.  But he was .749 in '13 and .725 in '14.  He demands the platoon.  I"m not sure I'm buying that Aoki goes to CF when Martin sits.  Aoki has 10 MLB starts in CF, none since '12.   


I'll go to the matt for Martin. I see 3.5-4.5 WAR in his immediate future - based on past performance.

Martin has an impressive minor league record, and a MLB record that approximates, if not surpasses Ackley's, except with stellar glove work in CF, hence the high WAR values. Like you, I chalk up last season to injury, while people a lot smarter than me are looking at their statistic models assuming there was no injury marred season, and assuming for some reason this solid player is regressing rapidly, completely apart from the injury that is staring everyone in the face.

If Ackley played CF like Martin does, we'd probably have swallowed hard and have kept him there for 2016 For the age 27 season. Good pedigrees, late bloomer template.  And we'd do this because...He's Dustin Ackley! College hitter of the decade. And he's giving us plus defense in CF. Martin? We treat him like he's dime a dozen. But look at his full body of work. 

There are many, many examples of players with Martin's pedigree blooming late and becoming solid, even star, ballplayers.


From the original list, The following are the ones that I expect to have up years when compared to the Steamer projections:

Miley - pitchers park and better defense behind him... I'm liking a monster first half of 2.5 and settling in for 3 for year

Cruz - I expect him to drop a few homers and maybe a few points of OBP and SLG, but still be over 3

Felix - he always seems to get rejuvenated by change... solid 4.8

Cano - I just have a feeling he has something to prove... solid 4.4

Marte / Taylor - squeemish, but getting over 2.5 SHOULD be doable by this pair

Clevenger - I'm with Doc, there is something here... maybe over 2 by himself.

Paxton - The kid has got to stay healthy at some point, and then reaching 2 should be easy

Montero - yes Montero, but it will probably be on another team as well...


Guys meeting the projections I believe are:

Lind, Taijuan, Aoki, Smith, Benoit, Karns (hard to be under that number), and Martin (defense alone should get him there, but it may just be all he has) 

Guys I believe will fail to meet numbers:

Guti, Kuma, Seager, Ciseck, and Ianetta

Plus I fully expect negative numbers by the bullpen and scrubs if only because they will be rotated through so much

My totals come out to roughly 78 wins, but I expect the year to be similar to two years ago with a fade at the end.

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