Why are the Mariners Sucking so Badly?

We’re three and a half weeks into the regular season, and the Mariners are 8-13. Prior to winning yesterday’s game with a great comeback in the bottom of the 9th, they had lost 8 games in a row. So what’s the deal?

First, it’s important to point out that it’s still very early in the season, and the sample sizes are just now getting large enough to start to draw conclusions. Also, April tends to be a very cold month with miserable weather; layer that on top of many players not really finding their stride yet and one concludes that any conclusions should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

That said, let’s see what the pitching stats tell us.  This chart from the Mariners’ web site begins to show us the story:

Player IP ERA H ER HR AVG WHIP SLG K_9 BB_9 H_9
 Hernandez, F 35.1 2.04 25 8 3 0.19 0.82 0.35 10.95 1.02 6.37
 Ramirez, E 24 6.75 27 18 6 0.28 1.58 0.53 7.5 4.12 10.12
 Elias, R 22.1 3.22 19 8 2 0.24 1.34 0.38 6.04 4.43 7.66
 Young, C 18 3.5 15 7 2 0.23 1.44 0.38 5 5.5 7.5
 Paxton, J 12 2.25 6 3 2 0.15 0.67 0.34 9.75 1.5 4.5
 Farquhar, D 10.2 1.69 8 2 0 0.2 1.31 0.2 8.44 5.06 6.75
 Leone, D 10.2 1.69 8 2 1 0.21 1.13 0.34 8.44 3.37 6.75
 Beimel, J 9.1 1.93 7 2 0 0.23 1.18 0.29 6.75 3.86 6.75
 Medina, Y 9.1 3.86 7 4 2 0.21 1.5 0.38 9.64 6.75 6.75
 Wilhelmsen, T 9.1 4.82 8 5 1 0.23 1.71 0.46 4.82 7.71 7.71
 Furbush, C 7 5.14 9 4 1 0.32 1.71 0.46 6.43 3.86 11.57
 Rodney, F 6.1 1.42 7 1 0 0.29 1.74 0.33 14.21 5.68 9.95
 Maurer, B 4.1 2.08 2 1 0 0.14 0.92 0.14 8.31 4.15 4.15
 Beavan, B 4 4.5 6 2 2 0.38 1.5 0.75 2.25 0 13.5

 

(I left off a couple of pitchers who only have 1 inning to their credit so far this season, just to clean things up a bit)

So what do we learn from this? Overall, the pitching staff is doing well —  the team ERA is 3.34; they are averaging 8.15 strikeouts per 9 innings, and 3.85 walks per 9 innings. Team WHIP is 1.28, which is about par for a major league team — not great, but not shoddy either.  Felix deserves a lot of the credit — 35 out of 180 innings are his, with a 2.04 ERA.

On the flip side, Ramirez is stinking up the joint. Very ugly numbers across the board: ERA of 6.75, 6 home runs and 11 walks in 24 innings. He’d better turn it around fast, for his own sake, and the sake of the team. Charlie Furbush also has the whiff of failure hanging off of him — batters have been lighting him up.

Rodney, the new closer, is a bit of a mixed bag. While he hasn’t given up many runs, that might be luck — batters have averaged .292 against him, and he’s given up 4 walks in 6 1/3 innings so far. He’s hardly “lights out” but he’s 3 for 4 in save opportunities.

So while there are a couple of trouble spots, there’s nothing here that screams of a pitching staff in deep trouble (and it should only get better when Iwakuma and Walker return).

Now let’s look at the hitting side:

Player G AB R H HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
 Cano, R 21 82 8 23 1 8 7 12 0 0.280 0.333 0.354
 Hart, C 16 63 7 17 4 7 5 13 0 0.270 0.333 0.508
 Zunino, M 17 63 7 16 3 9 1 19 0 0.254 0.266 0.492
 Ackley, D 20 71 10 17 1 10 4 14 1 0.239 0.276 0.366
 Smoak, J 21 73 10 17 3 12 6 19 0 0.233 0.288 0.411
 Buck, J 4 13 1 3 0 0 2 3 0 0.231 0.333 0.231
 Romero, S 10 23 1 5 0 1 0 7 0 0.217 0.250 0.304
 Almonte, A 21 89 8 19 1 8 5 33 2 0.213 0.255 0.326
 Bloomquist, W 5 15 1 3 0 0 1 3 0 0.200 0.250 0.200
 Miller, B 21 82 7 15 3 7 2 26 0 0.183 0.221 0.341
 Seager, K 20 67 7 12 2 7 11 17 0 0.179 0.304 0.328
 Saunders, M 17 34 5 6 0 2 3 8 1 0.176 0.237 0.265
 Morrison, L 8 20 2 3 0 0 2 5 1 0.150 0.227 0.150
 Franklin, N 7 16 2 2 0 0 2 6 0 0.125 0.222 0.250

 

The good news is that Robinson Cano is sort of earning his paycheck. He’s not hitting for a lot of power, but at least he’s hitting, and he’s drawing a lot of walks. For someone who plays half of his games in Safeco Field, that’s a good start for April. Corey Hart is also doing well, and is hitting for more extra bases than Cano, which is notable.  Mike Zunino is doing about what one would expect from a catcher — you can always hope for more, but don’t hold your breath.

Beyond that, it’s truly ugly. Almonte is batting .213, with 33 strikeouts and 5 walks in 89 at-bats; he’d better figure out what “plate discipline” means in a hurry, or he’s headed back to AAA. Brad Miller has been a huge disappointment after his scorching spring training run, batting .183 with 26 strikeouts. We can give them a little bit of credit for facing some decent pitching in the AL West, but even so this is truly anemic batting. Seager is a strange anomaly, hitting only .179 but drawing 11 walks; I can’t imagine anyone is pitching around him at this point, so I’m not sure what the story is there.

So why are they losing? Simply put: they can’t hit. Again, it’s April, early in the season and with lousy weather (though they’ve played an awful lots of games in Texas and California, so they don’t get a lot of leeway with that excuse). Hopefully they’ll find their bats soon and turn this around.

 

 

 

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