Thursday, November 7, 2013 @ 10:41am
By Gary Hill
A few fun facts about the Mariners' new manager, Lloyd McClendon:
• He was once traded for Tom Seaver. On Dec. 16, 1982, the Reds traded Seaver to the Mets for McClendon and Charlie Puleo.
• He played parts of eight seasons in MLB with the Reds, Cubs and Pirates.
• Until this season, McClendon was the last Pirate to reach base in a postseason game. In Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS against the Braves, he was issued a free pass by Jeff Reardon in the top of the ninth inning. He was left stranded at second base when Jay Bell grounded out. The Braves erased a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead in the bottom of the inning as Sid Bream lumbered home to send Atlanta to the World Series.
• He was a lifetime .625 hitter in the postseason (10 for 16) including a home run in Game 6 of the 1992 NLCS against Atlanta. His teammate Barry Bonds went deep as well in that game.
• He set an NLCS record by recording eight hits in eight straight at-bats.
• McClendon never faced the Mariners as a player.
• The right-handed hitter was a career .206 hitter with 14 home runs against righties while slugging 21 homers and hitting .262 against lefties.
• Dennis Rasmussen, Tom Glavine and Sid Fernandez were the three pitchers he took deep more than once in his career.
• He played for Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, Don Zimmer and Jim Leyland in his MLB career.
• McClendon appeared in left field (138 games), right field (131), first base (101), catcher (50) and third base (9) in the majors.
• He was a standout baseball player at Valparaiso University and entered the school's Hall of Fame in the class of 1997-98.
• His son Bo McClendon was drafted in the 39th round of the 2010 MLB draft out of Valparaiso and spent two years in professional baseball.
• He shares the hometown of Gary, Ind., with the Jackson 5. Dan Plesac, Ron Kittle and LaTroy Hawkins were other big leaguers from Gary.
• He led his hometown to the Little League World Series in 1971. He pitched a shutout, homered five times in five at-bats and was walked 10 times in the Series.
• He was chosen with the first pick in the eighth round of the 1980 draft by the Mets. He was selected 18 picks ahead of a 19-year-old high-school shortstop named Eric Davis (Cincinnati).
• He was teammates with current Athletics general manager Billy Beane with the Little Falls Mets in 1980 and the Lynchburg Mets in 1981.
• He was also teammates with current Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis in the Reds organization.
• McClendon managed the Pirates from 2001-2005 and compiled a 336-446 record.
• The most games he won in a season at the helm was 75 in 2003.
• Not coincidentally, here is a list of pitchers who started at least 10 games for the Pirates between 2001 and 2005:
Kip Wells, 121 starts
Josh Fogg, 119
Kris Benson, 63
Jimmy Anderson, 59
David Williams, 58
Oliver Perez, 55
Ryan Vogelsong, 33
Todd Ritchie, 33
Mark Redmond, 30
Jeff D'Amico, 29
Joe Beimel, 23
Salomon Torres, 21
Jeff Suppan, 21
Brian Meadows, 18
Bronson Arroyo, 17
Zach Duke, 14
Jason Schmidt, 14
Tony McKnight, 12
Omar Olivares, 12
• The Pirates' 2002 spring training featured a classic reaction from Derek Bell when he learned he was in a battle for the starting job in right field:
"If it ain't settled with me out there, then they can trade me," Bell said. "I ain't going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for a job. If it is (open), then I'm going into Operation Shutdown."
It should be noted that Bell hit .173 with five home runs the previous year with the Pirates. Bell never played in the Majors again after the "Operation Shutdown" proclamation.
• McClendon famously stole first base after an argument with an umpire in 2001.
• McClendon spent eight seasons on the Tigers' coaching staff. He served as the Tigers' bullpen coach in 2006 and was the hitting coach from 2007-2013.
• The Tigers scored 5,511 runs while McClendon was their hitting coach, which trailed only Texas (5,681), the New York Yankees (5,852) and Boston (5,864).
• Miguel Cabrera slashed .327/.407/.588 with 227 home runs and 737 RBIs in 4,054 plate appearances from 2008-2013.
• McClendon becomes just the fifth African-American manager to guide more than one team. He joins Frank Robinson (four teams), Dusty Baker (three), Jerry Manuel (two) and Hal McRae (two).
Monday, September 2, 2013 @ 9:37pm
By Gary Hill
The season splits for the Mariners are dramatic. The M's have bashed 113 homers against right-handed pitching, which is the fifth most in Major League Baseball this season. Their slugging percentage against righties falls just outside the top 10 and their .724 OPS sits in the top half of baseball.
The story against left-handed pitching, however, is vastly different. They maintain the second-worst OPS (.653) in all of baseball against lefties. They are only hitting .228 against southpaws, which is third worst in the game.
There is not much of a mystery as to why the Mariners struggle against lefties when the splits of everyday players are taken into account.
• Justin Smoak (switch hitter)
vs. right: .286/.387/.498, 14 HR, 31 RBI
vs. left: .167/.262/.202, 0 HR, 4 RBI
• Nick Franklin (switch hitter)
vs. righties: .229/.299/.448, 11 HR, 31 RBI
vs. lefties: .206/.268/.304, 1 HR, 10 RBI
• Brad Miller (bats left)
vs. righties: .263/.324/.442, 5 HR, 19 RBI
vs. lefties: .280/.341/.360, 0 HR, 7 RBI
• Kyle Seager (bats left)
vs. righties: .296/.378/.481, 12 HR, 40 RBI
vs. lefties: .248/.298/.426, 9 HR, 22 RBI
• Kendrys Morales (switch hitter)
vs. righties: .278/.330/.451, 13 HR, 49 RBI
vs. lefties: .280/.348/.418, 4 HR, 20 RBI
• Michael Saunders (bats left)
vs. righties: .256/.347/.417, 7 HR, 25 RBI
vs. lefties: .189/.272/.315, 3 HR, 14 RBI
• Dustin Ackley (bats left)
vs. righties: .251/.303/.341, 2 HR, 19 RBI
vs. lefties: .266/.310/.362, 1 HR, 8 RBI
• Raul Ibanez (bats left)
vs. righties: .252/.312/.489, 17 HR, 42 RBI
vs. lefties: .243/.304/.504, 8 HR, 18 RBI
• Mike Zunino (bats right)
vs. righties: .247/.314/.338, 1 HR, 8 RBI
vs. lefties: .227/.320/.364, 1 HR, 2 RBI
• Franklin Gutierrez (bats right)
vs. righties: .283/.313/.630, 4 HR, 7 RBI
vs. lefties: .200/.200/.486, 3 HR, 7 RBI
The Mariners have only scored one run in their last 26 innings and it is no coincidence they have faced a lefty in 25 of them.
They are only averaging 2.4 runs per game in their last 11 and they faced a lefty starter in seven of them. The M's were the third-highest-scoring team in July at 5.24 runs per game. They faced 18 righty starters and only seven left-handed starters the entire month. The Mariners lost four of those seven starts against lefties.
The Mariners' lineup is dominated by left-handed hitters and their switch hitters have all been stronger from the left side. In the cases of Nick Franklin and Justin Smoak, the disparity between the two sides has been massive.
The right-hand hitters who were supposed to supply balance to the lineup have spent more time on the disabled list than on the field. Michael Morse features a career OPS of .847 versus southpaws, but he has only managed to play 76 games this year. Jesus Montero hit .322 with six homers against lefties last season, but he has only appeared in 29 games in 2013. Franklin Gutierrez has a career .824 OPS against left-handed pitchers, but he has only made the lineup 23 times this year.
The Mariners will most likely continue to struggle against left-handed pitchers the rest of this season given their current makeup, so the focus turns to what should be done moving forward.
The answer to the lefty riddle has many parts.
First of all, the Mariners are extremely young offensively and it is reasonable to assume there will be natural progression and improvement against lefties. Players like Kyle Seager project to improve against lefties over time.
Secondly, players already in the system such as Stefen Romero could provide impactful long-term help. The right-handed hitter out of Oregon State hit .280 with 11 home runs and 74 RBIs in 92 games with Tacoma this season.
Thirdly, specialists could be hired from the outside to form appropriate platoon situations. The Athletics have used various platoons to their advantage this season. The Rangers employee Jeff Baker as a lefty antidote and he is mashing them to the tune of a ridiculous 1.215 OPS.
There is also a massive move the Mariners could make to help their cause.
Cuban defector Jose Abreu is a right-handed slugger who would fit well in the Mariners' lineup. (AP)
Abreu is a powerfully built right-handed hitter who is listed at 6 feet 2 and 258 pounds. He has played professionally in Cuba since 2003-04 yet he is still only 26 years old. He has routinely destroyed pitching in Cuba and has not hit below .382 the past three seasons. In 2010-11 he won the MVP by posting a .453/.597/.986 slash in nearly 300 plate appearances. He belted 33 homers that year, which tied him for the league lead with Yoenis Cespedes despite 122 fewer plate appearances.
Cespedes and fellow countryman Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers injected immediate offensive punch into their respective lineups. Puig's slash line this season is an eye-popping .351/.411/.564. Cespedes has bashed more than 20 homers in each of his first two seasons and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting last year.
Abreu has punished pitching on the international scene with wild success at tournaments all over the world. At the most recent World Baseball Classic he tied for the lead in homers and finished just one RBI behind David Wright. He tied the Netherlands' Andrelton Simmons for second in total bases, finishing just behind Robinson Cano.
Various scouting reports praise Abreu's massive power potential while questions regarding his defensive ability swirl. If the Mariners elect not to re-sign Kendrys Morales then they would have availability at designated hitter, and any defensive shortcomings would be irrelevant.
Abreu is going to cost a great deal to sign. Cespedes signed a four-year, $36 million deal that was questioned at the time, but now looks to be a bargain. Puig inked a seven-year, $42 million contract that is looking more prudent by the day. Abreu will cost more than both players, especially given the dearth of power potential on the market this winter. The competition will be fierce as the Rangers, Orioles, Red Sox, Mets and others could all be in on him.
Nevertheless, signing Abreu would be a roll of the dice given the dollars involved and the competition he has faced thus far. However, a middle-of-the-order power bat thriving in his prime may be enticing enough for the Mariners to aggressively pursue.
Monday, August 26, 2013 @ 11:29pm
By Gary Hill
What do the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves have in common?
1. All six of those teams are currently holding down a postseason spot as either a division or wildcard leader.
2. They are the top six teams in starting pitchers' ERA.
Good starting pitching is critical to postseason chances. Here is a peek at the teams holding down playoff spots and where they rank in starting pitchers' ERA:
Erasmo Ramirez and the rest of Seattle's rotation aside from Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have a combined 30-45 record and a 5.49 ERA this season. (AP)
Cincinnati Reds, 3.30 (second)
Detroit Tigers, 3.41 (third)
St. Louis Cardinals, 3.42 (fourth)
Pittsburgh Pirates, 3.44 (fifth)
Atlanta Braves, 3.59 (sixth)
Boston Red Sox, 3.82 (10th)
Oakland A's, 3.90 (13th)
Tampa Bay Rays, 3.92 (14th)
Texas Rangers, 3.92 (15th)
There is not one team in postseason position that is in the bottom half of MLB in rotation ERA. Not one team sitting among the bottom 10 teams in starting pitchers' ERA even has a winning record.
The Mariners are included in this bottom-tiered group.
Their rotation is 20th in the big leagues with a 4.24 ERA. The M's have a better record than fellow American League teams Toronto, Minnesota, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston and their rotation features a better ERA than all but one of them. The Baltimore Orioles are the only AL team with a better record than the M's but a worse rotation ERA.
The Mariners find themselves in a curious situation. A strong rotation is crucial to success. Their rotation features a Cy Young Award candidate and an All-Star. But despite the star power, their rotation is stuck in the bottom third in ERA.
The Mariners are 29-25 when either Felix Hernandez or Hisashi Iwakuma starts. They are 30-45 when all other starters take the ball. There has been just one more win in 20 more starts for the other three spots.
Felix and Iwakuma have thrown 363 2/3 innings this season and have a wonderful 2.80 ERA. The rest of the starters have chucked 414 2/3 innings and have boasted a 5.49 ERA. Their ERA is nearly a run and a half over the average for an MLB starting pitcher (4.03).
Felix and Iwakuma have fanned 342 hitters and only walked 72 in 54 starts. The rest of the rotation has struck out 264 and walked 126 in 75 turns.
The rotation has been the biggest reason why the M's have struggled to find consistency this season and they will need to find a fix going into 2014.
However, the Pittsburgh Pirates are a great example of how quickly it can turn. They have the fifth-best starters' ERA in the game at 3.44 this season. They were 18th last year with an almost identical ERA to the M's this season at 4.21. The major difference for Pittsburgh this season was the signing of Francisco Liriano and the emergence of youngsters Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole.
Heading into next season, Felix is at the top and Iwakuma is second. Here is an early look at options to fill the final three spots in the rotation:
• Erasmo Ramirez: 4-1, 5.44 ERA.
Ramirez was expected to be a part of the Mariners' rotation to open the season, but injury has wrecked most of his year. He has struggled to find his form but has shown flashes of promise. He has yielded three earned runs in his last 13 2/3 innings and could be a solid answer in the back end.
• Taijuan Walker: 9-10, 2.93 ERA with Jackson and Tacoma.
There is little doubt the young phenom will be given every opportunity to win a job in the spring and he has the ability to make a major impact in the rotation for years to come.
• Danny Hultzen: 4-1, 2.20 ERA with Tacoma.
Hultzen was pushing his way into the Mariners' rotation before shoulder issues derailed his season. If the modifications he has made to his delivery hold then he has a chance to be everything the M's hoped he would be when they selected him No. 2 overall in the 2011 draft.
• James Paxton: 7-11, 4.64 ERA with Tacoma.
The lefty has had his struggles this season in Triple-A . He turned in an extremely impressive July, but has stumbled in August. He has the talent to be a factor.
• Brandon Maurer: 4-7, 6.58 ERA.
Maurer broke camp in the rotation but struggled mightily to start the campaign. He is still only 22 years old and could be an answer if he can fully harness his natural ability.
• Jason Vargas: 7-5, 3.77 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels.
The former Mariner will be a free agent at the end of the season. He pitched well for the M's while he was here and his shortened season this year may depress his value. He is a great fit for Safeco Field.
• Jorge De La Rosa: 14-6, 3.28 for the Colorado Rockies.
He has had a tremendous bounce-back season after losing parts of the last two years recovering from Tommy John surgery. The lefty is not striking guys out at the same rate as previously in his career and part of the reason is that his velocity is down about 2 mph. The 32-year-old fanned 193 hitters in 185 innings in 2009. Trading Coors Field for Safeco Field may be a great move for him.
• Tim Lincecum: 7-13, 4.55 ERA for the San Francisco Giants.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner was expecting a major pay day when free agency hit after the end of 2013, but his performance the last two years has changed that. The local product has suffered through two tough years and has left some speculating that a career move to the bullpen may be in order. The M's may was to bring him home to try and revive "The Freak".
• Paul Maholm: 9-10, 4.51 ERA with the Atlanta Braves.
The lefty pitches to contact and would fit Safeco Field. He would not turn around a rotation, but could be part of the solution at the back end.
• Phil Hughes: 4-12, 4.88 ERA.
He has a 5.79 home ERA this season and a 3.67 ERA on the road. He has yielded 17 homers at home compared to just six on the road. Yankee Stadium can be brutal for a righty and Hughes has suffered badly at home. A change of scenery may just be what the free agent and former first-round pick needs.
• Blake Beavan: 0-2, 6.13 ERA.
He has been given opportunities to win a spot in the rotation and has not been able to seize them. There may not be many more chances to come.
• Hector Noesi: 0-1, 5.64 ERA.
He has shown ability but not consistency. He has only started one game this season for a struggling rotation.
Trades can always change the dynamics of the situation, but this was the early look nonetheless. There are some intriguing possibilities as the M's get ready to launch their work to solve the rotation puzzle.
Thursday, August 22, 2013 @ 2:16pm
By Gary Hill
When Danny Farquhar strolls to the hill, those epic words from Charles Dickens seem echo in the mind: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
This is not "A Tale of Two Cities" but rather a tale of two relief pitchers.
The first pitcher in question scuffled through his first 17 MLB games this season. He yielded 32 hits and walked 12 while featuring a hefty 8.77 ERA. He has been shuffled from Toronto to Oakland then Toronto and back to Oakland during his career. He has experienced the true definition of a "New York minute" during his brief stay in the Yankees organization before being shipped to Seattle. He pitched for minor-league teams in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; New Hampshire; Sacramento, Calif.; Trenton, N.J. and Tacoma in just the last two seasons.
After a rough start to the season, Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar has been lights out in his last 15 appearances. (AP)
From July 21 to Aug. 21 he was scored on in only one of his 15 outings. He has been perfect in his last four trips to the mound (four innings, zero hits, zero runs, zero walks and seven strikeouts). Wednesday in Oakland was the exclamation point. He threw 18 pitches and 12 of them were strikes as he fanned all three hitters he faced to lock down his ninth save.
His recent success has been a culmination of settling on his comfortable arm slot and harnessing his wicked stuff. Despite the fact he is listed at 5 feet 9 and 180 pounds, he can hum a fastball to the plate at a surprising pace. He is pumping his fastball at an average of 94.7 mph, which is 42nd best in the game. Jeff Sullivan just penned a piece at FanGraphs.com that listed Farquhar's curveball as the most unhittable pitch in the game so far this season.
The truth is that the results may just be catching up to what has been bubbling underneath the surface for Farquhar. He has been striking out hitters at an impressive rate throughout the season.
Strikeout rate leaders:
1. Aroldis Chapman, 14.96
2. Greg Holland, 14.14
3. Andrew Miller, 14.09
4. Jason Grilli, 14.03
5. Danny Farquhar, 13.82
6. Craig Kimbrel, 13.68
As the layers are peeled back even further you find Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). FIP is a way to measure a pitcher assuming that performances on balls in play are league average. It is essentially a way of trying to measure a pitcher of terms of what the pitcher can specifically control such as strikeouts, walks and homers, and striping away what a pitcher cannot be responsible for.
Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) takes this concept ever further by replacing a pitcher's home-run total with an estimate of what he should have allowed given a league average home-run-to-fly-ball rate. The number ends up looking like an ERA and in these terms anything around 3.00 is great, 4.00 is average, and the 5.00 range is not good.
For example, here is the top 10 for starters in terms of xFIP (minimum of 20 starts).
1. Matt Harvey, 2.31
2. Yu Darvish, 2.66
3. Adam Wainwright, 2.68
4. Felix Hernandez, 2.71
5. Chris Sale, 2.90
6. A.J. Burnett, 2.91
7. Clayton Kershaw, 2.92
8. Anibal Sanchez, 2.95
9. Cliff Lee, 3.04
10. Max Scherzer, 3.07
The list is very impressive and populated by some of the best pitchers in the game. Here is the top 10 for relievers:
1. Greg Holland, 1.50
2. Danny Farquhar, 2.04
3. Kenley Jansen, 2.04
4. Craig Kimbrel, 2.05
5. Jason Grilli, 2.07
6. Mark Melancon, 2.19
7. Koji Uehara, 2.20
8. Aroldis Chapman, 2.33
9. Andrew Miller, 2.44
10. Trevor Rosenthal, 2.48
Even when Farquhar's surface numbers in his first handful of appearances were ugly, he maintained a solid FIP. This could be a case of numbers finally catching up to the good stuff that that had been going on underneath. The numbers indicate that Farquhar's new role may be more than temporary.
Fun facts regarding Mariners saves
• With his next save, Farquhar will become the 25th Mariners pitcher to record double-digit saves in a season. Kazuhiro Sasaki, Norm Charlton and Mike Schooler all recorded more than 10 saves in a season four times each.
• Mariners saves leader on their current active roster:
Danny Farquhar, 9
Oliver Perez, 2
Lucas Luetge, 2
Hisashi Iwakuma, 2
Yoervis Medina, 1
• Farquhar is currently tied with Arthur Rhodes for 30th on the Mariners' all-time saves list.
• Randy Johnson saved two games in a Mariners uniform.
• Hall of Famer Rich "Goose" Gossage saved 310 games in his big-league career. His last save came in his last MLB game. In classic Gossage fashion, he went three hitless innings against the Rangers to preserve the win for the Mariners. He saved exactly one game for the M's.
• The only Mariner with more saves than Farquhar in fewer games pitcher is Ted Power. He saved 13 games in 1993 while only pitching a total of 25 games in his brief M's career.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 @ 8:40pm
By Gary Hill
The unbalanced schedule in Major League Baseball produces the exact result you would expect from something called "unbalanced". Each MLB franchise plays teams within its division 19 times this season for a grand total of 76 games. Teams also play six or seven games against the 10 other teams within the league for a total of 66. Twenty interleague games finish off the schedule.
The issue is that the unbalanced schedule can lead to a massive disparity in competitive balance. For example, the Blue Jays are stuck playing a huge portion of their schedule against the Red Sox, Rays, Orioles and Yankees. On the other hand, the Braves have the good fortune to clash with the Marlins, Phillies, Mets and Nationals on a routine basis.
Most games against teams above .500:
1. Toronto, 91
2. New York Yankees, 77
3. Los Angeles Angels, 75
4. Houston, 75
5. Tampa Bay, 73
6. Minnesota, 72
7. Boston, 71
8. Seattle, 70
8. Kansas City, 70
8. Cleveland, 70
Fewest games against teams above .500:
1. Atlanta, 37
2. Los Angeles Dodgers, 46
3. Miami, 51
3. New York Mets, 51
5. Cincinnati, 51
6. St. Louis, 52
6. Pittsburgh, 52
6. Arizona, 52
9. Washington, 53
10. San Diego, 54
There is a difference of 54 games between Toronto and Atlanta in terms of games played against teams above .500.
The point probably does not need to be made that beating teams with better records is more difficult than beating those with worse records. As evidence, there are only three teams in MLB with a better winning percentage against teams above .500 than those below.
• Arizona: .538 above, .507 below
• San Diego: .500 above, .408 below
• Chicago White Sox: .403 above, .393 below
It should be noted that the Padres and White Sox have the lowest winning percentage against below-.500 teams in all of baseball.
The Blue Jays will face teams above .500 roughly 119 times this season. Since 2000, 46 teams have played at least 100 games against teams above .500 and only three of them have posted a winning record against them. Strangely, they all came from the same division in the same season.
• 2003 Phillies, 54-49
• 2003 Marlins, 53-48
• 2003 Braves, 57-43
The Marlins won the World Series that season.
This season the Blue Jays are 38-53 (.418) against teams above .500 and 19-14 (.576) against teams below .500.
A couple of interesting notes regarding records:
• Tampa Bay is just 34-39 against teams above .500, but they have the best record in the game against teams below .500 (37-13).
• Cleveland has the second-best record against teams below .500 (38-17), but the Indians are 29-41 against teams above .500.
Monday, August 19, 2013 @ 10:11am
By Gary Hill
A few notes on third baseman Kyle Seager, the Mariners' bullpen, their starting rotation and more:
• Seager is one of just eight players in their age-25 season or younger with at least 300 at-bats who maintains an OPS above .800.
Mike Trout, 1.004
Paul Goldschmidt, .939
Freddie Freeman, .864
Domonic Brown, .860
Justin Upton, .849
Brandon Belt, .830
Kyle Seager, .828
Jean Segura, .803
• Dustin Ackley is hitting .385 in August with three doubles and one triple. His slash for the month is .385/.415/.513.
• The three worst bullpens in baseball according to ERA reside in the American League West.
28th: Angels 4.54
29th: Mariners, 4.64
30th: Astros, 5.24
• Speaking of the bullpen, here is the evolution of Danny Farquhar:
First 17 MLB games: 8.77 ERA, 32 H, 12 BB, 37 K
Next 13 MLB games: 1.08 ERA, 8 H, 5 BB, 25 K
• M's starters ranked by average innings pitched per start in August:
Hisashi Iwakuma, 7
Felix Hernandez, 6.25
Erasmo Ramirez, 5
Joe Saunders, 4.8
Aaron Harang, 4
• M's starters ranked by total innings pitched for the season in the American League:
1. Felix Hernandez, 178.2
6. Hisashi Iwakuma, 171
27. Joe Saunders, 144.1
56. Aaron Harang, 107.2
• Seattle owns the season series versus Oakland 8-5. The Mariners are the only team below .500 who have the season series advantage over the A's.
The Mariners have played 69 games against teams above .500 and are 30-39. They've played 54 games against teams below .500 and are 27-27.
The Blue Jays have met teams above .500 an MLB-high 91 times. They have only faced sub-.500 teams in 33 games. The Braves have only faced above-.500 teams 37 times while 87 of their games have come against teams below .500.
The Mariners are 29-25 against the AL West.
• Outfielder Michael Saunders has vastly different splits in wins compared to losses.
Saunders in wins: .301/.401/.559, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 11 SB, 9 2B
Saunders in losses: .174/.251/.256, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 6 2B
• Reliever Charlie Furbush has faced 102 left-handed batters this season and they are only hitting .138 against him. Here is the list of pitchers who have faced at least 60 left-handed hitters this season, sorted by batting average:
Paco Rodriguez, .134
Charlie Furbush, .138
Luis Avilan, .140
Chris Sale, .146
Clayton Kershaw, .147
Francisco Liriano, .148
Drew Smyly, .158
Madison Bumgarner, .161
Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 1:16pm
Russ Davis was trying desperately to avoid the tag from Cleveland's Enrique Wilson between first and second base. The attempt by the Mariners' third baseman was in vain as umpire Larry Barnett called him out. The call was costly for the M's as their ninth-inning rally was instantly snuffed out.
Lou Piniella responded to the perceived injustice by explaining his case to Barnett. After a brief conversation, Piniella retreated to the dugout only to learn that he had actually been tossed from the game during the exchange. Piniella shot onto the field like he was launched from a cannon. The rampaging bull went nose to nose with Barnett. He tore his cap from his head, wound up his leg and kicked his hat like he was trying to put it through the uprights for a 60-yard field goal. The kick of the cap was followed by another ... then another ... then another. The hat received a complete kicking tour across the right side of the diamond at Jacobs Field. Simply mentioning Piniella's antics beckons a sweeping smile across the faces of most M's fans.
However, epic blowups like those from Piniella may be a thing of the past. It is clear now that instant replay is coming to MLB in a much more expanded capacity in the very near future. Running on the field to start a dustup with little chance of actual success will be replaced by a mere indication of a disagreement so the call can be reviewed. A manager may still disagree even if a call is not overturned, but it will be difficult for a skipper to muster up the gumption against video evidence.
No more Piniella un-anchoring first base and heaving it into the outfield. No more Billy Martin kicking dirt on a home-plate umpire. No more Earl Weaver turning his cap backwards to stand as close as humanly possible to his target. No more Lloyd McClendon storming off into his clubhouse with a base under his arm.
There is no doubt that big-league managers often put on a display under the guise of disagreeing with a call. They could be trying to send a message to their team. Perhaps they are attempting to shake things up during a tough stretch. The motivations for such a public display are numerous.
It is somewhat strange that fans can receive so much entertainment from two grown people yelling at one another. It is even more bizarre when you consider one of the participants is a roughly 60-year-old man wearing baseball pants. The fact is that arguments between managers and umpires have been a colorful part of baseball history for a long time.
Perhaps the game will be better without the on-field tussles, especially in the context of attempting to be as accurate as possible with calls.
Whatever the case, it is difficult to have an entertaining quarrel with a video machine.
Thursday, August 15, 2013 @ 1:51pm
By Gary Hill
Felix Hernandez achieved perfection exactly one year ago to the day. The King baffled 27 Tampa Bay hitters in a row on his way to becoming just the 23rd player in Major League Baseball to ever reach the amazing feat.
It is staggering to comprehend all that Hernandez has accomplished at such a young age. The 27-year-old ace has won a Cy Young Award and secured four All-Star births. He has earned MVP votes in three different seasons and has won an ERA title. He has led the American League at one time or another in innings pitched, wins, starts, innings, hits per nine innings and home runs per nine innings.
No pitcher in the game has thrown more innings than Hernandez since 2008.
Felix Hernandez, 1,328.1
CC Sabathia, 1,324
Justin Verlander, 1,313.1
James Shields, 1,282.2
Cliff Lee, 1,266.2
Matt Cain, 1,245.2
Hernandez boasts the sixth-longest current streak of seasons with 200 or more innings pitched.
Mark Buehrle, 12
CC Sabathia, 6
Justin Verlander, 6
James Shields, 6
Matt Cain, 6
Felix Hernandez, 5
Cliff Lee, 5
Hernandez has already tossed 23 complete games in his brilliant career, which places him in a tie for ninth among active pitchers. He is only two complete games behind both Andy Pettitte and Tim Hudson. It took Hernandez 262 starts to get there. Pettitte and Hudson have started a combined 938 games.
Hernandez maintains the second-best ERA in the game since 2008 for a pitcher with at least 100 starts.
Clayton Kershaw, 2.64
Felix Hernandez, 2.84
Cliff Lee, 2.93
Adam Wainwright, 2.94
Chris Carpenter, 3.01
Roy Halladay, 3.03
Hernandez has also fanned the third most hitters in MLB since 2008.
Tim Lincecum, 1,320
Justin Verlander, 1,294
Felix Hernandez, 1,247
CC Sabathia, 1,212
Clayton Kershaw, 1,148
Since Hernandez entered baseball in 2005, no pitcher has thrown eight innings or more while yielding one run or fewer more times than him.
Felix Hernandez, 59
Roy Halladay, 54
Cliff Lee, 51
CC Sabathia, 45
Hernandez has thrown a perfect game against Tampa in Seattle. He has hurled a one-hit shutout against the eventual World Series champion Red Sox in Boston. He has fanned 12 Rangers in a game while giving up three harmless singles in nine innings. He has routinely dominated the Yankees at their place, including winning a 1-0 game while chucking a brilliant two-hitter. He has allowed two hits or fewer in games against the White Sox, Twins and Padres. His domination has spanned from coast to coast.
Hernandez has already pushed himself towards the top in numerous pitching categories in Mariners history. He is second in strikeouts, third in wins, starts and innings pitched, and second in shutouts in club history. He is tied for ninth among active pitchers with those nine shutouts.
The city of Seattle was fortunate to watch Randy Johnson transform himself from a raw thrower to Hall of Fame pitcher during his time in Seattle. He made hitters' knees quake and their hands tremble. Left-handed hitters who did not come up with an impromptu gameday backache were merely looking to survive at-bats. Success against the Big Unit was an unexpected pleasure best credited to Lady Luck.
Lightening has struck twice in Seattle. Hernandez was a baby-faced flamethrower when he first took the mound for the M's. His high-90s heat overwhelmed hitters as he worked to harness his natural abilities. As the pages of the calendar have turned, Hernandez has carved himself into one of the top pitchers in the game.
His changeup has evolved into one of the deadliest weapons in baseball. It dances like it is being influenced by remote control from the stands. The speed and grace of the pitch combine to form a freak of nature that leaves batters muttering to themselves. His variety of fastballs, devastating curve, and filthy slider combine to form an arsenal that makes trying to hit him nearly impossible. It is difficult enough to figure out what is coming next, let alone trying to put the ball in play with some sort of faint hope of reaching base.
Hernandez is, of course, at it again this year. He leads the league in ERA and innings and is second in strikeouts. He has thoroughly hurled himself into another Cy Young Award race. There have only been 16 pitchers in baseball history to take home multiple Cy Young Awards. Hernandez is looking to join the exclusive list featuring names like Carlton, Maddux, Koufax, Johnson, Seaver, Gibson, Perry and Palmer.
Hernandez is in the midst of another special season in what has already been a tremendous career. The suggestion is to enjoy it to its fullest.