Posts Tagged ‘major league baseball’


Are the Seattle Mariners the worst MLB franchise of all time?

May 25, 2017

Someone just messaged me suggesting the Mariners are the worst baseball franchise of all time. Curious, I decided to look into it. For simplicity, I ignored all defunct franchises, but franchises that continued on in different cities or with different names are included. Here are the facts:

-Only four teams have a worse win percentage than the Mariners (.469): Rockies (.468), Marlins (.468), Padres (.462), Rays (.462).

-Of those four teams, all of them have been to the World Series. The Marlins have won it twice. The Mariners have never played for the title.

-The only other current franchise with no World Series appearance is the Washington Nationals and they are currently on a run that rivals the only run the Mariners ever had from 1995 to 2001. The Nats have made the playoffs multiple times in recent years and are title contenders in 2017. The Nats also have a win percentage of .486.

-Only the Rays (2), Marlins (0), and Rockies (0) have less division titles than the Mariners (3), but all three of those teams have been around for 15-20 less years and have already been to the World Series. The Rockies also have a chance to crack that goose egg this year.

-Only the Rockies (3) and the Marlins (2) have been to the playoffs less times than the Mariners (4), but they’ve been around for half the time and have both been to the World Series.

-The Brewers have won as many division titles (3) and have been to the playoffs as many times (4) as the Ms, but they also have a higher win percentage (.477) and have been to one World Series. With about a decade on the Mariners, Seattle has some time to establish itself as the better franchise, but as of this writing, the Brewers are in first place in the NL Central.

-The Padres have been around as long as the Brewers and have managed two more division titles (5) than the Mariners and one more playoff appearance (5) and while they have a worse all time win percentage, they have been to the World Series twice.

-The Mariners didn’t reach the playoffs until their 19th season. The Padres reached the postseason and the World Series in their 16th year. The Nationals, then known as the Montreal Expos, made their first playoff appearance in year #13 and then they tortured their fan base with a 31 year drought before their current run of good fortune. The Brewers also made the playoffs in their 13th year and then the World Series in their 14th. Rays fans only had to wait 11 years to make the playoffs and immediately got a World Series appearance. The Rockies made the playoffs in their third year and reached the World Series in year 15.

-The Mariners have sandwiched a solid seven season run from 1995 to 2001 in between postseason droughts of 19 seasons and 15 seasons (and counting) – currently the longest playoff drought in all four major sports.

So are the Mariners the worst baseball franchise in MLB? You tell me.


MLB Awards – through the first third of the 2015 season

June 10, 2015

Note: I compiled this post over the past two days, so some stats don’t reflect yesterday’s action.

American League MVP

1. Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays: .310/.367/.582, 47 R, 16 HR, 43 RBI, 3 SB, 3.6 WAR
2. Nelson Cruz, Mariners: .329/.384/.613, 33 R, 18 HR, 39 RBI, SB, 2.0 WAR
3. Prince Fielder, Rangers: .356/.414/.547, 27 R, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 1.6 WAR
4. Jason Kipnis, Indians: .338/.414/.518, 41 R, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 8 SB, 3.7 WAR
5. Mike Trout, Angels: .283/.373/.561, 42 R, 16 HR, 33 RBI, 8 SB, 3.2 WAR
6. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: .320/.427/.558, 31 R, 12 HR, 38 RBI, SB, 2.3 WAR
7. Stephen Vogt, Athletics: .290/.385/.544, 27 R, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 2.2 WAR
8. Brian Dozier, Twins: .268/.344/.527, 47 R, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 3 SB, 2.3 WAR
9. Adam Jones, Orioles: .311/.348/.509, 30 R, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 3 SB, 2.2 WAR
10. Eric Hosmer, Royals: .306/.378/.490, 32 R, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 3 SB, 1.9 WAR

Comments: Josh Donaldson has been an absolute monster this year. I figured moving from pitcher friendly Oakland to hitter friendly Toronto would give him a boost, but he’s on pace to hit over .300 with 43 homers and 116 RBI. Pretty sick. With Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion mostly scuffling through April and May, Donaldson has carried the Jays offense to .500 record. As a Mariners fan, Nelson Cruz sure feels like the MVP right now. I can’t imagine where the M’s would be without him. 10-48? Cruz accounts for about 75% of the M’s total offense. Prince Fielder has the lowest WAR on this list (probably because he’s a negative on defense and on the bases), but that offensive line is pretty impressive and his Rangers actually have a winning record. Of course, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera make their obligatory appearances and Trout will probably climb out of reach on this list as the season progresses. It’s worth noting the lack of any Astro on this list, but that’s largely because Jose Altuve had a pedestrian May.

National League MVP

1. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks: .340/.466/.650, 44 R, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 9 SB, 3.1 WAR
2. Bryce Harper, Nationals: .326/.464/.706, 44 R, 19 HR, 46 RBI, 3 SB, 4.0 WAR
3. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: .332/.409/.608, 33 R, 11 HR, 35 RBI, 10 SB, 2.9 WAR
4. Dee Gordon, Marlins: .366/.390/.433, 32 R, 16 RBI, 20 SB, 2.9 WAR
5. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers: .329/.407/.589, 37 R, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 2.6 WAR
6. A.J Pollock, Diamondbacks: .321/.369/.495, 40 R, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 14 SB, 2.5 WAR
7. Todd Frazier, Reds: .282/.356/.587, 37 R, 16 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB, 2.8 WAR
8. Joc Pederson, Dodgers: .253/.377/.566, 34 R, 17 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB, 3.1 WAR
9. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: .300/.391/.520, 38 R, 8 HR, 30 RBI, SB, 2.3 WAR
10. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: .240/.325/.558, 36 R, 19 HR, 49 RBI, 4 SB, 2.4 WAR

Comments: Goldschmidt and Harper feel like options 1a and 1b here. It’s so close, I can barely call it. Bryce edges Goldy in WAR, but Goldschmidt is hitting .340 while on a 30/30 pace… as a first baseman. Who does that? Oh, Anthony Rizzo also. I wonder how many people outside of Arizona that don’t have him on their fantasy team realize that A.J. Pollock is having an MVP-caliber season? Joc Pederson is having a pretty absurd rookie season for the Dodgers. I think most believed that he had 30/30 potential somewhere down the line, but he’s on a 40 homer pace in his rookie year. It’s kind of weird to consider a .240 hitter an MVP candidate, but it’s even stranger to exclude a guy that leads the MLB in homers and RBI. If Stanton can cut back on his NL-worst whiff rate and get a bit luckier on his BABIP (.275), he will vault up this list and his power numbers could get crazy.

AL Cy Young

1. Chris Archer, Rays: 7 Wins, 1.84 ERA, 11.71 K/9, 0.95 WHIP, 5.40 K:BB, 2.8 WAR
2. Sonny Gray, Athletics: 7 Wins, 1.65 ERA, 8.01 K/9, 0.91 WHIP, 3.48 K:BB, 2.3 WAR
3. Dallas Keuchel, Astros: 7 Wins, 1.85 ERA, 6.88 K/9, 0.92 WHIP, 3.05 K:BB, 2.2 WAR
4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners: 9 Wins, 2.51 ERA, 8.85 K/9, 0.96 WHIP, 3.52 K:BB, 1.4 WAR
5. Chris Sale, White Sox: 6 Wins, 3.04 ERA, 11.31 K/9, 1.01 WHIP, 5.47 K:BB, 2.3 WAR

Comments: Chris Archer has been really, really good and has only gotten better as the year has progressed. In his last three starts he’s posted strikeout totals of 11, 15, and 12. What. Chris Sale has been pretty unlucky to be #5 on this list.

NL Cy Young

1. Max Scherzer, Nationals: 6 Wins, 1.85 ERA, 10.43 K/9, 0.91 WHIP, 7.50 K:BB, 2.8 WAR
2. Gerrit Cole, Pirates: 9 Wins, 1.73 ERA, 9.92 K/9, 1.10 WHIP, 4.53 K:BB, 2.0 WAR
3. Jacob deGrom, Mets: 7 Wins, 2.42 ERA, 9.35 K/9, 1.00 WHIP, 5.06 K:BB, 2.0 WAR
4. Zack Greinke, Dodgers: 5 Wins, 1.92 ERA, 7.68 K/9, 0.95 WHIP, 4.25 K:BB, 1.7 WAR
5. Jason Hammel, Cubs: 5 Wins, 2.76 ERA, 9.12 K/9, 0.89 WHIP, 8.44 K:BB, 1.7 WAR

AL Rookie Of The Year

1. Lance McCullers, Astros: 2 Wins, 2.32 ERA, 10.45 K/9, 0.90 WHIP, 6.00 K:BB, 1.1 WAR
2. Devin Travis, Blue Jays: .271/.336/.504, 24 R, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB, 1.4 WAR
3. Carson Smith, Mariners: 1 Win, 2 Saves, 1.38 ERA, 10.04 K/9, 0.73 WHIP, 5.80 K:BB, 0.5 WAR

Comments: No real standouts in the AL yet. Devin Travis was making a pretty strong case before getting injured. McCullers has been lights out for the Astros in 5 starts. Smith probably should have been the Mariners closer a month ago.

NL Rookie Of The Year

1. Joc Pederson, Dodgers: .253/.377/.566, 34 R, 17 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB, 3.1 WAR
2. Kris Bryant, Cubs: .282/.392/.469, 31 R, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 5 SB, 2.2 WAR
3. Chris Heston, Giants: 6 Wins, 3.77 ERA, 8.03 K/9, 1.19 WHIP, 3.67 K:BB, 1.2 WAR

Comments: This will be a fun race to monitor for the rest of the season. Pederson and Bryant are truly elite talents. Heston threw a no-hitter yesterday, but I have a feeling the opposing pitcher in that game, Noah Syndergaard, will pass him on this list by midseason.

Surprise Team

Minnesota Twins – The Astros have been incredibly surprising, but everyone knew they were going to be really good… eventually. The Twins though? I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Granted, the Twins have one of the better farm systems in MLB, but all of their premiere prospects (Buxton, Sano, etc.) are yet to arrive. Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey, and Kyle Gibson have been amazing in the rotation and the Twins have posted one of the AL’s best records despite ace Phil Hughes struggling during the first 2.5 months.

Dissapointing Team

Seattle Mariners – If you would have told me that Nelson Cruz would be hitting .320 with 18 HR and 39 RBI and that Felix Hernandez would have nine wins in early June, I would have guessed that the Mariners were about 10 games over .500. Instead, they are 6 games under. As someone that has watched the M’s closely, it’s pretty obvious what the problem is: a lack of offense in general and a lack of timely hitting specifically. We are bad at getting men on base, but when they get in scoring position we are even worse. It’s hard to blame anyone in particular, but Robinson Cano has been absolutely terrible. He’s not hitting with any authority and he just doesn’t seem like he even cares anymore. I’ve seen him get picked off twice while not paying attention and seems like his effort level never goes above 80%. It’s scary to think Mariners fans might have to watch this for seven more years.


Mac’s MLB First Half Awards

July 10, 2012


AL – Mike Trout, Angels: Since his arrival in late April, Mike Trout has been one of the top two or three most productive players in baseball. More importantly, his impact on the Angels gives him the edge over Josh Hamilton for first half MVP. On April 27th, the Angels were scuffling to a 6-14 record and sitting in the AL West basement with super slugger Albert Pujols posting a monstrous 4 RBI so far. Enter Mike Trout. Since April 28th, Trout’s season debut, the Halos have posted a 42-24 record and have climbed into the American League Wild Card lead while Pujols has rediscovered his confidence, knocking in 47 runs since Trout arrived. Not only does Trout lead the American League with a .341 average and 26 steals, but he also sits a mere 6 runs scored behind MLB-leader Ian Kinsler despite spending almost all of April in AAA. But wait, there’s more! Trout isn’t just a speedy lead off guy… he’s also blasted 12 homers in 258 ABs, a pace that would give him 30 over a full season of 650 at bats. This dude is so sick that I can’t help but talk about him in Chuck Norris-like hyperbole: “I’m going to switch my entire wardrobe to nothing but Mike Trout jerseys.”

Honorable Mention: Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones, Miguel Cabrera

NL – Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: The only player in MLB that has rivaled Mike Trout since May 1st is the dreadlocked Pirates outfielder. After inking a multiyear deal with the Bucs prior to the season, McCutchen has rewarded the normally cheap franchise with outstanding production. McCutchen leads MLB with a .362 average, is stealing bases and hitting homers at nearly a 40/40 pace, and also ranks in the top 3 in the NL in both runs scored and RBI. After a modest April, this kid’s bat has been scorching hot, raising his average from .302 and hitting all 18 of his homers since May 1st. Thanks to McCutchen’s emergence fantasy baseball’s most valuable asset in the first half and an early MVP candidate, the Pirates are not only a surprise atop the NL Central standings, but actually look like legitimate players for a playoff berth.

Honorable Mention: David Wright, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun

Cy Young

AL – Jered Weaver, Angels: The Halos righty might not be as dominant as Justin Verlander (6.8 K/9 vs 8.7 K/9), but one would be remiss to suggest Weaver hasn’t been as effective. Weaver is the only starting pitcher with at least 90 innings pitched to post an ERA under 2.00 and also leads all starters with a 0.90 WHIP. Weaver has also posted a 10-1 record for a team that has climbed its way into playoff contention. Oh, and he threw a no hitter.

Honorable Mention: Justin Verlander, Chris Sale

NL – R.A. Dickey, Mets: Who is this guy? Where did he come from? At age 37, Dickey is having an unprecedented breakout season, taking a career 4.15 ERA and 1.34 WHIP and turning those numbers into 2.40 and 0.93, while posting a career high in wins (12)… in 17 first half starts. More improbably, Dickey and his ridiculous knuckleball are striking out batters at unfathomable rate, fanning more first half batters than notable strikeout artists Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Matt Cain.

Honorable Mention: Matt Cain, James McDonald, Stephen Strasburg

Rookie Of The Year

AL – Mike Trout, Angels: No explanation needed here.

Honorable Mention: Yu Darvish, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Cook

NL – Bryce Harper, Nationals: The most highly touted prospect since Alex Rodriguez has been Mike Trout-lite for the NL East leading Nationals. Harper has burst into the nation’s capital by flashing all five tools and posting an .826 OPS at age 19. Harper could easily score 100 runs this season despite spending April in the minors and will probably post a 30/30 season as early as 2013 if his health holds up.

Honorable Mention: Norichika Aoki, Wade Miley

Comeback Player

AL – Adam Dunn, White Sox: It’s a close call between Dunn and teammate Jake Peavy and I’d say that Peavy’s resurrection has been more valuable to his team, but Dunn has come back from depths of suckdom that few sluggers have ever reached. In 2011, Dunn posted an inexcusable .159 average and 177 strikeouts in 415 ABs while hitting a career low 11 homers. While his inability to get base hits hasn’t improved much (.208 average) and he’s on pace to shatter the all-time strikeout record, he’s at least helping his team score runs in bunches and win games by smacking 25 homers in 84 games and getting on base at a .357 clip.

Honorable Mention: Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Joe Nathan

NL – David Wright, Mets: To put this comeback in perspective all you have to do is compare Wright’s first half numbers to his totals from all of 2011: he’s posted more hits and doubles and almost as many runs, homers, RBI, and steals in 87 less at bats. While Wright may never again approach 30/30 status like he did in 2007, it seems as if he’s become more selective at the plate, drastically increasing his average while bumping his walk rate to a career high and his strikeout rate to a career low.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Hill, Chris Capuano, Jason Heyward

Biggest Disappointment (Injured players ineligible)

AL – Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Expecting Gonzalez to hit .338 again is probably unfair and his current .283 average isn’t too far off his career number, but the complete lack of power is quite shocking, especially in a favorable park like Fenway. Gonzo is on pace for a career low in homers–by a long shot–and could post his lowest runs scored and RBI since his breakout season in 2006 despite holding down a premium spot in Boston’s potent line-up. Most alarmingly, Gonzalez has walked at least 74 times in each of the last four seasons, but has a mere 23 free passes through 86 games this year.

NL – Tim Lincecum, Giants: For whatever reason, The Freak has been tossing beach balls on the mound and opposing hitters have been teeing off on him. With a 3-10 record, 6.42 ERA, and 1.58 WHIP through 18 starts, it’s difficult to blame his results on bad luck. While Lincecum is still striking out his fair share of batters, he’s on pace to obliterate his career highs in both hits and walks allowed. With his funky delivery and so many teams doubting his sustainability before he started his professional career, there could be some reason to be concerned for his long term productivity.

Silver Sluggers

C – A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox (.285-16-49)
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies (.350-13-46)

1B – Paul Konerko, White Sox (.329-14-49)
Joey Votto, Red (.348-14-48-5)

2B – Robinson Cano, Yankees (.313-20-51)
Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks (.300-11-40-7)

3B – Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (.324-18-71)
David Wright, Mets (.351-11-59-9)

SS – Derek Jeter, Yankees (.308-7-25-7)
Ian Desmond, Nationals (.285-17-51-11)

LF – Mark Trumbo, Angels (.306-22-57)
Ryan Braun, Brewers (.306-24-61-15)

CF – Josh Hamilton, Rangers (.308-27-75-6)
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (.362-18-60-14)

RF – Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (.244-27-65)
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (.296-20-65-8)


Mariners MidSeason Report

July 7, 2009

Jarrod Washburn has been one of many suprising performers on the Mariners staff this season.  He tossed a one hitter on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Okay, so the Mariners are in third place, winning over half their games, and only 3.5 games back in the AL West division. I would have bet money against that happening when I wrote this post.

Team Outlook at the midpoint:

Catcher: Kenji Johjima has a whopping .660 OPS (on-base % + slugging %), a number many NL pitchers can probably top. Unbelievably, Rob Johnson and Jamie Burke have been even worse. Whatever the Mariners are doing to keep winning games, it almost certainly has nothing to do with the offense at catcher. With Jeff Clement sitting on an .853 OPS at AAA Tacoma, I can’t really make sense of the situation. I know he has struggled offensively in the majors so far, but he must be the worst defensive catcher in the world if Seattle doesn’t think he’s an upgrade over our current rotation. Grade: F (Previous Grade: F)

First Base: Russell Branyan has been a beast. I railed him in my post back in early April and he’s making me look pretty stupid right now. With 21 homers and an on-base percentage of .390, he’s looked more like Adam Dunn than Richie Sexson this season. I knew Branyan had this kind of pop and, as expected, he’s striking out a ton, but the fact that he’s managed a .294 average through 82 games is remarkable. Over 2200+ at bats in his career Branyan has been a .238 hitter, so I’d have to guess his average will take a pretty significant hit before the year is over. As it stands though, Branyan has set career highs in almost every important offensive category and has been a huge asset to the Mariners in the first half of the season. He has a ridiculous .986 OPS and has outscored Ichiro to lead the Mariners in runs. Grade: B+ (Previous Grade: D)

Second Base: Hitting .229 with 5 HR at the start of June, Jose Lopez was looking like a huge bust. Lopez had a big June however, batting .329 with 5 HR and 20 RBI for the month. Despite his poor start, he’s still on pace to set a career high in homers and RBI. Lopez could use some patience at the plate, but I still think he’s a rising star and hopefully we can see him build on the momentum he created last month. Grade: B- (Previous Grade: A-)

Shortstop: I said earlier this season that Yuniesky Bentancourt is neither an asset nor a liability, but that was assuming the M’s weren’t going to contend. His defense has been average and his offense has been subpar. Bentancourt is just a place-holder for future stud Carlos Triunfel (now in AA), but unfortunately, the M’s are in a pennant race and they could use an upgrade now. Grade: D (Previous Grade: C)

Third Base: Adrian Beltre has had a pretty bad first half. Not only is he killing the Mariners with his putrid offense, but he’s also diminishing his trade value if the M’s decide to shop him at the trading deadline. It’s possible the M’s will hold onto him since they are actually competing and Beltre is a solid defender. Since it’s unlikely at this point that we would get anything worthwhile in return, I think the Mariners are better off just holding onto Beltre and hoping he can put a decent second half together for the stretch run. Grade: C (Previous Grade: B)

Left Field: Endy Chavez was serviceable before he got hurt. A .273 average and 9 stolen bases are respectable numbers. Wladimir Balentien, a former top prospect, has been filling in for Chavez and still can’t hit major league pitching. Ryan Langerhans has looked solid in his brief Mariner stint, knocking four extra base hits in just 16 at bats so far. With Chavez on the 60-day DL, left field has become a black hole for the M’s, so let’s hope Langerhans can put together a couple of fluky months. Grade: F (Previous Grade: D+)

Center Field: Franklin Guitterez has been yet another solid, but unspectacular piece of the Mariner’s winning puzzle. A .293 average and .354 OBP are decent numbers and he has shown nice range and a quality glove in center. His eight homers rank 4th on the team, so he’s shown moderate pop so far. Grade: B- (Previous Grade: C)

Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki remains the best hitter on the team and his bat has been sizzling, scorching opposing pitchers to the tune of a .391 average over 238 at bats in May and June combined. The fact that Ichiro bats leadoff and sports a .360 average for the season, yet isn’t even on pace to score 100 runs says a lot about the Mariner offense; it’s not that good. The pitching staff has been great so far this season, but if Ichiro doesn’t score 100 runs this season, I’d be surprised if the M’s are still in it come September. Grade: A (Previous Grade: A)

DH: Ken Griffey Jr. is done as an every day major leaguer. He’s not even a reasonable platoon guy at this point, hitting a puny .203 vs right-handed pitchers this year. There is still some pop left in his bat, but 26 RBI and a .402 slugging percentage from your regular cleanup hitter are some pretty ugly numbers. For whatever reason, even though The Kid can’t hit anymore, opposing pitchers still seem scared to throw him strikes, and his 39 walks have kept him from being completely worthless. Griffey has declined sharply the past two seasons and the biggest contribution he’s making to the Mariners at this point is taking place in the ticket booth. Perhaps he has been our good luck charm. I love Griffey to death and idolized him growing up as a Mariner fan, but I don’t think he’s helping this team in 2009. If the M’s don’t want to use Jeff Clement at catcher, he should at least be stealing at bats from Griffey in the second half. Grade: D- (Previous Grade: C+)

Bench: The Mariners are not a deep team offensively. Mike Sweeney, Ronny Cedeno, Rob Johnson, Josh Wilson and Chris Woodward would all struggle to find major league jobs in any other organization and that’s not a good sign when three of your starting position players are on the disabled list. How much did the M’s really need to pony up to keep Willie Bloomquist in a uniform? His .284 average, 15 stolen bases, and defensive versatility would be invaluable to Seattle right now. This group is honestly a brutal bunch and the offense would be anemic enough without all the injuries. Grade: F (Previous Grade: F)

Offense: Ichiro and Branyan have been the only consistently productive hitters. Lopez came on strong last month and the offense as a whole plated Ichiro 19 times in June, which is a step in the right direction. The fact that the Mariners are above .500 despite ranking 2nd to last in the majors in runs scored is incredible. I know the pitching staff has been amazing, but I still don’t really get it. It seems like there is a different hero behind every win. I do think that the Mariners are going to need to upgrade offensively if they have any plans of staying in this thing. Chris Woodward isn’t going to make Adrian Beltre expendable, so unless the M’s tank in July, I don’t see that trade happening. Jeff Clement absolutely needs to be in the majors… he’s proven all he’s going to prove at AAA and I honestly can’t see him doing worse than Griffey or our current catchers. If we do make a trade, I think we have to shop for a shortstop and Jack Wilson or Cristian Guzman would be logical, cheap upgrades. Grade: D

Starting Rotation: Felix Hernandez is well on his way to celebrating his breaking out party. King Felix has been the Mariners best pitcher for a few seasons now, but hadn’t really put together a full season of ace-worthy numbers. It looks like he might be putting it all together this year and is set to demolish his career bests in ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts. He’s probably not going to have his first 20 win season, but has put together a first half that would have him in the Cy Young picture if he can duplicate it over the rest of the season. Erik Bedard has pretty much done what we expected: pitch well and miss a number of starts. If he could just stay healthy, he could create one of the best pitching duos in the majors with Felix. I said I wouldn’t get excited about Jarrod Washburn even if he threw a no-hitter… Well, he tossed a one-hitter yesterday and allowed no other base runners. Needless to say, I’m impressed. Washburn hasn’t been dominating; opponents are hitting .282 against him, which is somehow a career low for the lefty. Opponents have posted a super low .224 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) against him, so it’s likely Washburn is going to regress in the second half. However, the improved outfield defense has certainly helped Washburn, an extreme fly ball pitcher that also benefits from a spacious home park. With Washburn performing above expectations and Brandow Morrow now easing into the #4 spot, the rotation is looking pretty solid right now, especially with Jason Vargas posting above average numbers for a fifth starter and Garrett Olson acting as an effective spot starter. All in all, the rotation has been rock solid so far this year and has potential to improve once Morrow starts getting deeper into games. It’s unlikely that Carlos Silva will have a job in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list and that’s a good thing for this team. Grade: B+ (Previous Grade: D)

Bullpen: David Aardsma has been quite the revelation in the closer role posting an absurd 1.41 ERA, holding opponents to a .165 average while converting 17 of 18 save opportunities and striking out 48 batters in 38.1 IP. I’m not sure anyone could have predicted that happening, but he’s sure answered one of the biggest questions the Mariners had when the season opened. Aardsma has combined with Mark Lowe, Sean White, and Miguel Batista to post a 2.78 ERA over 158.2 combined innings with 121 Ks between the quartet. These guys have made the Mariners extremely tough to be beat in a close game after the 6th inning. Batista also has the ability to go multiple innings and spare the rest of the bullpen when the games aren’t close. Shawn Kelley has been dominant in the first 11 innings of his major league career. Also, whether Vargas or Olson, one of those two should provide quality long relief. I don’t care much for the names of our bullpen corps, but you can’t really argue with the results. These guys have been stellar this season and have turned what I expected to be the biggest weakness on the team into its strength. Grade: A (Previous Grade: F)

Pitching Staff: I’m not sure how it happened and I doubt anyone suspected it was possible, but the Mariners have the best staff in the majors right now. They barely edge out the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best ERA in all of baseball. You can certainly credit the M’s pitchers and the defense behind them for this unexpected start to the season. Even though they have proven themselves over the first half of the season, I can’t really say I’m entirely sold on our bullpen. I think Aardsma is in a groove and doesn’t look to implode any time soon, but Batista is definitely someone that can blow up at any given moment. Our rotation is solid though and our staff as a whole will keep us competitive over the rest of the season if our offense can pick it up. Grade: A

Overall: Our rotation has been solid and has the potential to improve and the bullpen has been phenomenal so far this year, but I think our offense is going to need to turn it up a notch for the stretch. An upgrade at SS and moving Jeff Clement into the starting lineup seem like the right moves to me. If Lopez can maintain his June pace and Beltre can start hitting, the Mariners just might keep this thing going into September. I think we have the staff to do it, but our offense is looking suspect and I think we are missing a couple crucial pieces. Grade: B- (Previous Grade: C-)


First look @ my 2009 MLB All-Stars

June 3, 2009

So I went to my first Mariner game of 2009 and I picked up an All-Star ballot and filled it out with these results:

American League

First Base – Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins – This was the toughest choice I made on the entire ballot. Mark Teixeira has been beasting over the past month, posting a .345 average to go along with 13 homers and a ridiculous 34 RBI. No one in baseball has been hotter. However, 85% of Teixeira’s production has come in that span and Morneau has been consistent all season long, managing to better Big Tex in both runs and RBI, while posting a much better season average (.345 vs. .279). Miguel Cabrera and Kevin Youkilis have also had great seasons so far, but Morneau is still the pick… for now.

Second Base – Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers – Again, another tough choice. Kinsler has tanked in the past month, posting a .219 average, which puts his season average (.277) significantly lower than Aaron Hill’s (.328), who has posted similar counting numbers. However, I’m still giving Kinsler the slight edge because he’s a threat on the base paths and a more exciting player. Robinson Cano and Brian Roberts are heating up too.

Shortstop – Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays – Not even a recent DL stint has hurt Barlett’s stance as the best offensive shortstop in the league during the first third of the season. His numbers are ridiculous: .373-7-30 with a 1.014 OPS. Are you fucking kidding me? What’s more absurd is that the 7 HR he has in 161 ABs this season is only one less than he hit in 1297 ABs over the past three years combined. That’s mind-blowing. He’s also 13 RBI short of his career high and we’re only a third of the way through the season. It just goes to show you how dope that Tampa Bay line-up has become.

Third Base – Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays – A no-brainer. With A-Rod injured for all of April, Longoria has jumped way ahead of the pack. He’s hitting .322 with 13 homers and an MLB-leading 55 RBI. No one else at this position is even close to that kind of production.

Catcher – Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins – Easiest pick on the ballot. Mauer has barely cracked 100 at bats, but he’s almost matched his career high in homers. On top of that, the dude is hitting .433. His 1.389 OPS is by far the best in baseball and even though his position mates have 50-70 more at bats, he’s already bested everyone in homers and is only 3 RBI off position-leader Victor Martinez who has logged over twice as many ABs. Sick.

Outfield – Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays, Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox – I wonder if the Mariners are regretting trading Adam Jones yet? Dude is hitting .344 and is on a pace for 38 homers, 124 RBI, 141 Runs and 14 stolen bases. Those are MVP-worthy numbers and while I expect his power numbers to dip a bit, I do think he is capable of stealing about 30 bases. Carl Crawford is batting .319 with 40 runs… those are good numbers, but he’s on pace for 94 stolen bases. That’s all that really needs to be said. I originally went with a home town bias and picked Ichiro over Bay, but then I got home and looked at the numbers again and realized how stupid that was. Ichiro has a nice average and a long hitting streak, but that’s about it. Bay is on pace for 40+ homers and about 160 RBI. Retarded.

National League

First Base – Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals – No surprise here. Adrian Gonzalez is having a real nice season with a 69 homer pace, but that’s sure to drop off, and Pujols simply has better all-around numbers posting a .339 average to go with 16 homers and 45 RBI, despite being constantly pitched around. Toss in 7 stolen bases from the big guy and only 18 Ks (absurd for a power hitter) and this is still an easy choice.

Second Base – Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies – Utley has been mediocre over the past month (.264, 4 HR), but he’s still far and away the most production two-bagger in the NL posting a .299 average to go with 12 HRs and 36 RBI.

Shortstop – Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins, Miguel Tejada, Houston Astros – Okay, maybe this was the toughest choice on the ballot. It’s so close that I can’t even call it. Both of these guys have posted great averages (.346 for Hanley, .362 for Tejada), while Hanley has the lead in runs and Tejada has the edge in RBI. If Tejada wasn’t hitting .360, I’d give the vote to Hanley because of his 25 stolen base pace and slight lead in homers, but right now, it’s still too tough to call. Give it another month though and I think Hanley will be the clear favorite.

Third Base – Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals – Again, I went with David Wright on my ballot, but I didn’t realize his average had dropped .40 points in the past 10 games or so. Not only is Zimmerman now hitting for a better average (.322 vs. .321), but he’s crushing Wright in the counting numbers with 11 homers, 40 runs, and 37 RBI.

Outfield – Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies, Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks, Carlos Beltran, New York Mets – Ibanez is as much of a cinch as Joe Mauer was and I thought that before he went 3 for 5, with a double, two homers and five RBI tonight. Check out this guy’s pace: .340, 139 runs, 62 homers, 165 RBI, and 13 SBs… that would go down as the best offensive season of all-time if it happened. Obviously, he is going to regress, but still, this is your NL MVP for the first third of the season… easily. Upton has posted some really good numbers with a .322 average, 10 homers, and 33 RBI… that’s impressive… but the most ridiculous thing about it is that the kid is only 21 years old. WTF. I gave Carlos Beltran the nod over Matt Kemp because he’s crushing Kemp in average (.352 vs. .310) while posting similar counting numbers in 25 less at bats.


Seattle Mariners 2009 Baseball Preview

April 15, 2009

Yes… I realize that we are over a week into the major league baseball season, but I don’t think it’s too late to give a preview of what to expect from the
Seattle Mariners this season. Here’s one thing I don’t think you should expect from the M’s this season: keeping up the hot start they have going at the moment.

First, I’m going to break this team down position-by-position:

Catcher – The only people that should be happy to see Kenji Johjima behind the plate for us are his relatives and personal friends. This guy is not an asset at all. After a reasonably good debut season in 2006, his numbers dipped noticeably in 2007 and then fell off the face of the earth last year. There’s no reason to expect him to turn things around this season and the M’s would be much better off letting Jeff Clement develop in the majors, with Johjima playing the roll of veteran backup. Grade: F

First Base – Is there anything worse than Richie Sexson? Maybe…. and his name is Russell Branyan. Branyan is pretty much a Sexson clone that hasn’t ever been able to hold down a regular job in the bigs. He could be making some new fans in Seattle with his current .280-.357-.520 line, but that’s pretty fluky. Like Sexson, Branyan has legitimate pop, but will always be a black hole in the line-up because of his inability to make consistent contact. It’s quite possible that he will hit 35 home runs this year, but expect that lofty total to come with a .230ish average and 200 strikeouts. Grade: D

Second Base – Jose Lopez is probably the brightest spot in the M’s line-up outside of Ichiro Suzuki. After hitting .297 with 17 HRs, 41 2Bs, and 89 RBI in his age 24 season, it’s unlikely that we’ve seen Lopez’s ceiling as far as power is concerned. While I’d like to see more patience at the plate and a bit more speed on the base paths, I do think Jose Lopez just might be the most underrated player 25 years old or younger in the majors. Grade: A-

Shortstop – I’ll say that I’m a Yuniesky Bentancourt fan, but I don’t think he’s much better than the average major league shortstop. He’s not really an asset or a liability. I like his range defensively, but he does make a lot of errors. Offensively, he is a solid hitter from the ninth hole, but I don’t think we’re going to see too much improvement from him in the future. Grade: C

Third Base – Okay, so Adrian Beltre is not a .330 hitter with 40 homer potential… us Mariner fans have learned that much during his tenure with the team. Beltre had one of the all-time greatest fluke seasons in 2004 and is yet to top 100 RBI, 26 HR, or a .300 average as a Mariner. With that said, if you can overlook the anomaly season in 2004, Beltre has actually been one of the most consistent offensive third basemen in baseball the last four years. On top of that, Beltre plays a real solid 3-bag defensively. Also, it’s worth noting that even though Beltre is off to a slow start, this is a contract year for him and we all know how he did last time he was in this spot. Grade: B

Left Field – Endy Chavez has been nice out of the gate this season… he’s got nice speed and is a good glove in left, but his hitting leaves something to be desired. In reality, no MLB team should be too excited to have this guy as a regular starter on their team. So far, so good though. Grade: D+

Center Field – The jury is still out on Franklin Gutierrez. I’m not really sure what to expect from him, but I think he has some good upside. Again, defensively, he seems solid and our outfield as a whole should be one of the better defensive outfields in all of baseball. Offensively, it looks like Gutierrez could have 15-15 upside, but not much else. Grade: C

Right Field – Ichiro Suzuki returns to the line-up today and won’t hurt a team that is already off to a solid 6-2 start. I don’t really need to tell anyone that Ichiro is the best hitter by a long shot on this team. On top of a being a guarantee for 100 runs, a .300 average and 40 SBs, Ichiro is a gold glove caliber right fielder. Grade: A

Designated Hitter – It’s easy for us Mariner fans to get excited about the return of Ken Griffey Jr. and that’s understandable. However, it’s important to remember that The Kid is in the twilight years of his career and his glory days are long past so we all need to temper our expectations. Regardless, Jr. still has that beautiful swing and the ability to knock the ball out of the park. The M’s need to keep Griffey off the field as much as possible and ensure that he stays healthy. If he can log 140 games or so, I don’t think 30 homers and 80 RBI are out of reach for the 39 year old. No matter the case, it’s awesome seeing the best player to ever rock a Mariner uniform back on the team and we will all pay money to see him play again. Grade: C+

Bench – Mike Sweeney is in a similar position as Griffey, albeit without all the nostalgia, nor was he nearly as good as Griffey during their primes. It’s been four years since Sweeney had a relevant season and there is no reason for M’s fans to expect him to make an impact this year. Ronny Cedeno and Rob Johnson are irrelevant back-ups as well. Matt Tuiasosopo is really the only intriguing reserve after ripping up spring training, but it’s quite likely that he will be sent to Tacoma for more seasoning to make room on the roster for Ichiro. Grade – F

Starting Rotation – Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez have crazy potential. Bedard is only a 15 months or so removed from being the best pitcher in the American League, so his hot start is not all that surprising to me. I owned him in a fantasy league in 2007 where he didn’t lose a single game for a four month stretch. The question is whether he can stay healthy or not. If so, he can be a force at the top of our rotation. It’s easy to forget that King Felix is only 22 years old this season when you overlook the fact that he’s got three full seasons under his belt and broke into the rotation as an 18 year old. As longtime M’s fans that saw the early emergences of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, we might have a misconception of how rare it is for an 18 year old kid to be major league ready. Considering that, Felix has as much upside as any starting pitcher in the American League and is still a few years shy of the typical breakout season age. I wouldn’t be shocked to see both Bedard and Hernandez win 15 games a piece. The back 60% of the rotation is where things start to get murky. I don’t care if Jarrod Washburn threw a no hitter in his first start, I still wouldn’t be excited about his potential this season. He’s a #5 starter (if that) in a #3’s clothing. He sucks. Carlos Silva is similar to Washburn, just much, much worse. After those two, the #5 spot is up in the air… Currently Ryan Rowland-Smith occupies the slot… and while he’s put up impressive numbers in his short career (3.48 ERA, 120 Ks in 160 IP, 2:1 K/BB ratio), anyone that is slotted behind Carlos Silva is a scary proposition. Grade: D

Bullpen – Another weak spot for the Mariners. Although I like what we got back in the J.J. Putz trade, I don’t really understand it. Honestly, I think our rotation needs Brandon Morrow more than the bullpen does and considering that was the plan heading into 2009, the Putz trade makes even less sense. Who did they expect to step up and close games if Morrow was starting? Miguel Batista? Roy Corcoran? Outside of maybe Mark Lowe and Morrow, there’s not really an arm you an trust after our starters get ousted. Grade: F

Overall – Yes, things look great for the M’s after a nice 6-2 start, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect this trend to continue. Our offense is merely mediocre and we’re going to be hard-pressed to keep on winning these low-scoring games. After Bedard and Felix, our rotation looks miserable and our bullpen can’t really be relied upon in close games. This not the kind of make up that a first place team usually has. If you take a look around baseball, you’ll also find the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, and Kansas City Royals holding down first place, respectively, in their divisions. All of those teams are projected last place squads. So yeah, the M’s are looking good right now, but it’s only a matter of time before the back end of the rotation implodes and this team shows it’s true colors. I would consider this season a success if we win 80 games. Grade: C-

MVP – Ichiro Suzuki
Ace – Felix Hernandez
Speed Demon – Ichiro Suzuki
X-Factor – Erik Bedard
Closer At Year’s End – Brandon Morrow