Success of Sele

Dave · June 16, 2005 at 12:51 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

In his last 6 starts, Aaron Sele has compiled the following line:

40 1/3 innings pitched
35 hits
2 home runs
10 walks
18 strikeouts
1.56 ERA

And here’s his outcomes as a percentage of batters faced:

Walks – 6 percent
Strikeouts – 11 percent
Home Runs – 1 percent
Ball In Play – 82 percent

That’s the epitome of pitcher using his defense. The strikeout rate isn’t good, but the walk and home run rates are low enough that it allows you to be successful in stretches. It’s the Jamie Moyer plan, essentially. And it can work, especially when you’re pitching in front of a good defense and have half your games in Safeco Field.

If Aaron Sele keeps pitching like he is now, we would expect him to post an ERA in the 3.75-4.25 range in the rest of his starts (his DIPS ERA for his last 6 starts is 3.83). The 1.56 ERA is a mirage based on a low number of balls in play going for hits and a home run supression rate that isn’t sustainable, but much like early season Julio Mateo, just because his ERA doesn’t match how he’s pitching, that doesn’t mean that he’s pitching poorly.

If you want an interesting comparison, here’s a look at the percentage numbers for 2001 Aaron Sele:

Walks – 6 percent
Strikeouts – 12 percent
Home Runs – 3 percent
Balls In Play – 79 percent

Pretty darn similar to what we’ve seen the last 6 starts, and Sele posted a 3.60 ERA in 2001.

Much like Ryan Franklin in 2003 and Jamie Moyer the past few years, Sele is succeeding because he’s leveraging his teammates strengths as much as humanly possible. But in the context of the Mariners defense and Safeco Field, it’s a great idea for pitchers who simply can’t get hitters out on their own anymore. Whether he can continue to throw strikes at this prolific rate is up for debate, and I’d lean towards “probably not”. However, the lousy strikeout rate, in this instance, isn’t a death blow.

If he can keep this up for another month, I’ll gladly admit we were wrong, that Sele was a nifty little investment, and I’ll take joy in analyzing the decent little prospect we’ll be able to get for him at the deadline.


50 Responses to “Success of Sele”

  1. Jim Osmer on June 16th, 2005 1:05 pm

    Seems like Sele is the poster child for the failings of Wilson/Olivo/Price and the value of Pat Borders.

    I agree Sele likely has another month as an M and ends up going somewhere to a contending team. I am hoping pitching prospect(s) would be sent back.

    Thanks for the good analysis again. I think some analysis on Morse and Rivera would be interesting. Why they should expect to come back to earth (outside of just old stats) or why we should be genuinely encouraged. Many hot AAA hitters come up and have initial success. Not many .250 AAA hitters come up and hit like Morse has.

  2. IgnatiusReilly on June 16th, 2005 1:10 pm

    See: Willie Bloomquist

    Will definitely be interesting to see if the M’s can get anyone to bite on the attractive looking ERA. However, won’t most teams know basically what you’ve just outlined?

    Even just watching him (and not crunching the numbers), you know he is basically the same pitcher he’s always been.

  3. Pedro on June 16th, 2005 1:14 pm

    I find it humorous you finally admit you were wrong about Aaron Sele after ripping into me about him being a good pitcher for the Mariners.

  4. Dave on June 16th, 2005 1:19 pm

    If I claim the world is going to end tomorrow because a talking bird told me in a dream, and then the world really does end tomorrow, that doesn’t mean that I was any less crazy in the first place.

  5. Ralph Malph on June 16th, 2005 1:19 pm

    Whether you think Sele is a “good pitcher” depends on your definition of a “good pitcher”. Saying he’s been a decent stopgap who is worth the money they’re paying him and might net a prospect in trade isn’t the same thing as saying he’s a “good pitcher”.

  6. johnb on June 16th, 2005 1:22 pm

    Sele was signed to be the #5 pitcher and he has exceeded expectations so far. If he can put together another decent month he will be decent trade bait to a contender looking to shore up their pitching staff.

  7. roger tang on June 16th, 2005 1:25 pm

    Well, trade bait is his best use, but how likely do you honestly think that he’ll be put to his best use? I’m quite sure that current management doesn’t think that way and can’t even conceive of thinking that way.

  8. Jim Osmer on June 16th, 2005 1:35 pm

    #4 that hurts the head but I know what you mean.

    When Sele has had good years, his W-L has been much better than his ERA, K and other numbers. He is the anti-Franklin.

    For example Franklin for the last few years
    Record Winning % Team Record Team % Diff
    2003 11-13 .458 93-69 .574 .116
    2004 4-16 .200 63-99 .389 .189
    2005 2-8 .200 28-35 .444 .244

    Franklin wins much less frequently than his peers in the rotation. We all know the run support problem which is probably not his fault. But that doesn’t matter. If you know you won’t win with him, then you don’t pitch him even if you don’t know the reason. If the M’s won 75% of the games that Olivo caught, you should play him as much as possible. As is, the M’s are 10-4 (.714) when Borders starts so who cares if he hits.
    If Sele keeps it up, what level of prospect could we realistically get?

  9. MarinerDan on June 16th, 2005 1:35 pm

    Dave —

    Do you think there is a real possibility that the Mariners will be able to convert Sele into a prospect at the deadline? I am somewhat skeptical that the market will value Sele enough for a contender to bite, even if his fluke-ish season continues.


  10. NBarnes on June 16th, 2005 1:35 pm

    The prospect of flipping Sele for a prospect at the deadline fills me with wonder and joy.

  11. Jim Osmer on June 16th, 2005 1:39 pm

    I think Sele would be very trade-able because he does not have a big burden contract like many players dumped at the deadline. Often teams are sending away prospect and stuck with a big contract for several more years.

  12. Evan on June 16th, 2005 1:41 pm

    Most contenders would love to have an extra pitcher who can eat innings with an ERA below the league average.

    Contenders seem to be a bit low on prospects these days, though.

  13. Russ on June 16th, 2005 1:43 pm

    If Sele continues to pitch as he has, he does have value. That value will always be dependent on another’s teams needs.

    If the other team are contenders and have needs either in the rotation or bullpen AND they have a good defensive staff in a pitcher friendly park, he could be a benefit.

    His contract is throw away dollars to a contending team.

  14. Sriram on June 16th, 2005 1:48 pm

    Something told me today morning that Dave will post about Sele’s recent successes.. and there it is.. thanks for making me feel psychic 🙂

  15. MacMariner on June 16th, 2005 1:51 pm

    The problem is if he keeps up this performance up all season, the M’s will offer him a 2 year contract, no doubt about it.

    How would you like those apples? Pray for him to implode.

  16. Grizz on June 16th, 2005 1:57 pm

    Considering that Penny and Sheets signed contract extensions and that the majority of contending teams have at least one hole in their rotation due to ineffectiveness or injuries (or soon will), the market for merely adequate starting pitchers like Sele should be strong. As noted above, Sele is cheap, so even low revenue (i.e. cheap) clubs could afford him. He is also a veteran with past success, which manaagers tend to prefer for the heat of a pennant race. Granted, the M’s will not get a great prospect for him, but the M’s could certainly use a decent near-major-league-ready pitching prospect. The M’s play mostly within the division from now until the All Star Break. If, as expected, the M’s gain no real ground by then, even Chuck LaMar would know it is time to deal.

  17. RL on June 16th, 2005 2:14 pm

    Off topic – Will Carrol reports today that “Scott Spiezio is listed as out “indefinitely” after a back injury during his rehab. Some think he’ll never play for the M’s again .”

    Was this reported in Seattle? Did I miss it? I wonder if Leone will ever get another chance.

  18. Deanna on June 16th, 2005 2:14 pm

    They can’t trade Sele! He has “local boy” charm, after all.

  19. Dave on June 16th, 2005 2:16 pm

    There’s absolutely a market for Aaron Sele. Look at the teams in contention and the back end of their roations

    Baltimore: Ponson-Cabrera-Penn (20 year old rookie).
    Texas: Park-Astacio-?
    Philly: Padilla-?

    Washington just grabbed Ryan Drese on waivers. There’s four teams in serious contention with huge question marks in the back of their rotation.

  20. Steve on June 16th, 2005 2:21 pm

    The thought of flipping Sele for a prospect seems so logical. As a Mariner-schooled cynic, however, I don’t see it happening. As long as there is a glimmer of hope of making the playoffs, I think Sele will stick around. And since “glimmer of hope” is determined by the Mariners front office, “glimmer of hope” doesn’t mean “a realistic chance”.

    In that case, the Mariners will view Sele as a key part of the pennant drive, and trading him would be throwing in the towel. And, as MacMariner mentions in #15, it’s far more likely that they will reward him with a 2-year, $6 million contract.

  21. eponymous coward on June 16th, 2005 2:25 pm

    Exactly. This was the rationale for seeing if Aaron Sele’s won the Jose Lima Memorial Revived Career Lottery- an improved back end of the rotation if you’re in contention, a prospect if you’re not.

    Thing is that what I worry about is based on past history, the M’s are likely to keep Sele and do something like offer him a one year contract for 3 million with a vesting option for 4.5 million at 150 IP come the offseason…which would likely NOT pay off well. Note that Jose Lima’s sucktastic again, and I think you SHOULD trade a 36 year old P with shoulder problems and so-so stuff at peak value- and this is about it. Branch Rickey was right about “Better a to make a trade a year early…”

  22. PositivePaul on June 16th, 2005 2:26 pm

    I’ve said it from the start, and will continue to be slammed for saying it, but I’d rather have Sele than Franklin. Of course, that’s like having to choose between day-old roquefort and day-old Gorgonzola. They both stink. I’d rather trade Franklin than Sele, and don’t want either of them on this team next season.

    If only we’d’ve traded Franklin before 2004 when he actually had some trade value. Still, I’m just as surprised by Sele’s recent performance as anyone. Here’s to hoping we can get something useful for either pitcher…

  23. Evan on June 16th, 2005 2:27 pm

    By VORP, Sele would be the third best pitcher in Texas, Anaheim, St. Louis, and Minnesota. He’d be the second best starter in San Diego and Boston.

  24. Jeremy on June 16th, 2005 2:29 pm

    If Aaron Sele is traded, I hope the team that gets him doesn’t win it all.

    It was bad enough when the Angels won it all in 2002, although Sele wasn’t on the playoff roster that season. He did receive a ring, however, for his contributions during the 2002 season.

    If Sele’s new team were to win it all this season, it wouldn’t shock me. I’m a Seattle sports fan, therefore I’m used to being cynical. That’s just how I roll. Nothing wrong with that at all.

  25. Jim Thomsen on June 16th, 2005 2:32 pm


    Thanks for your post. Your bottom line is the same as mine; while I may be biased because I’ve gotten to know him pretty well in the last few months and like him a great deal, I have said all along that I see Sele as a means to an end rather than an end in and of himself. His value to the Mariners is in his leverageability.

    And Dav’s absolutely right about a trade market for Sele. I see him as not terribly different than a mediocre but proven innings-masticator like Jeff Suppan, who the Red Sox eagerly traded for two years ago in their push to beat the Yankees at the late-season wire.

    The trade deadline is a little like the “2-at-10, 10-at-2” country-music principle. Aaron Sele may not look like any great shakes to a contending team now, six weeks from the deadline, but if he’s, say, 9-6, 3.69 on July 28, he’ll suddenly shoot to the top of the must-have list for contending teams desparate for an edge.

  26. Brett Farve on June 16th, 2005 2:41 pm

    Ahh … country music. Another one is “go ugly early” … there may be a team willing to take him NOW. I suspect that Sele won’t keep this up all the way to the ASB.

  27. Evan on June 16th, 2005 2:43 pm

    That’s right. If Sele’s sufficiently good that he looks like he could be the difference between winning or losing a pair of close games down the stretch, a contender will want him.

    In a pivotal late-season game, I suspect the Orioles would rather hand the ball to Sele than Ponson or Cabrera.

  28. bilbo on June 16th, 2005 2:50 pm

    any chance this team would trade Guardado while they are at it?

  29. Brian Rust on June 16th, 2005 2:57 pm

    Maybe Aaron Sele is like the new Toby Keith song — he’s not as good as he once was, but he’s as good once as he ever was.

  30. Digger on June 16th, 2005 3:06 pm

    The evidence is pretty strong that Bavasi’s personnel decisions this year indicate an intent to sacrifice this season in favor of an extra year of building for 2006:
    (1) Keeping (the below replacement level) Thornton in the bullpen in the hope that he’ll develop into a good LOOGY.
    (2) Two months of Wilson Alvarez while Lopez converts to 2B in Tacoma (this decision was made before Lopez broke his hamate).
    (3) The refusal to spend a dime on the bench while having the system’s best prospects play full-time in the minors.
    (4) Hansen now at 3B instead of Lopez.

    These decisions are all acceptable if there’s a definite plan about building for next year. But they have cost the Mariners 5 or 6 wins so far this year, and with those wins they would be in contention now in the weak AL West. So he damn well better be planning to improve the franchise’s future before the trading deadline. If he doesn’t, his lack of action on (1)-(4) above is major malfeasance

  31. MarinerDan on June 16th, 2005 3:10 pm

    Assuming there is a market for Sele, can you give me an idea as to what sort of prospect we might get back in return? General description and some specific names (which, I understand, will be WAGs and merely serve as illustrative examples) would be great.


  32. Brett Farve on June 16th, 2005 3:13 pm

    Digger … what you are suggesting is that Bavasi has faith in Leone, as he is not rotting on the bench, and none in Dobbs(*), as he is on the bench.

    Certainly plausible …

    (*) I’d say that Dobbs was rotting on the bench, but that assumes that there is something there that is NOT already rotten.

  33. Scott on June 16th, 2005 3:20 pm

    I am also not a big Sele fan. But the better he does, the better return we can get from him. Win Win situation. lol. Unlike Boonie, we probably have to buy one get two free to get rid of him.

  34. Brent Overman on June 16th, 2005 3:24 pm

    The better he does, the better return we get from him, so long as management doesn’t get glossy-eyed over “The Pride of Poulsbo.”

  35. matthew on June 16th, 2005 4:08 pm

    With all of the injuries the Braves are having, I could see him ending up there…

  36. Evan on June 16th, 2005 4:44 pm

    I’m still hoping we can flip Dobbs or Villone for Austin Kearns.

  37. jaketrash on June 16th, 2005 4:47 pm

    I believe PP is correct (#22) in that Franklin needs to be a priority trade this year. (Don’t be too concerned however. My reasons may be different and I will say I do not agree with your day old cheese analogy.)

    Even if you believe he is a good pitcher and has pitched well enough to keep the team in games, he will not win with this team and no amount of repeating the same action expecting a better result will change that. Don’t get me wrong, Sele should be traded also. Just if a one or the other choice had to be made, to me Franklin is the clear choice.
    I don’t think either should be given away. The trade like what was gotten for Valdez may have been great for Valdez but would be a no go.

    On the topic of who I think should be called up to fill out the rotation.
    For this year the order should be:
    Campillo, Baek (injury concerns resolved), someone similar that may have come back with the trade, Felix.

  38. eponymous coward on June 16th, 2005 4:59 pm

    Uh, in what respect are signing/trading for Aaron Sele, Jeff Nelson and Dave Hansen anything other than “win now” sorts of moves?

    And, to be blunt- there’s no evidence Hargrove would actually USE a good bench. He’s a “put the same lineup card out there” sort of guy.

    I’m also dubious that what’s mentioned above in ost 30 has cost us 5-6 games over a bit more than a 3rd of the schedule- considering the M’s have a STRONG bullpen so far, and the difference between a very, very good player and a replacement-level player in a lineup over a FULL season is about 7-8 games….and we’re talking bench players who won’t be playing every game, and the last guy out of the ‘pen.

    I think the bench sucks because M’s management overvalues hustle, defensive “versatility” (read, being below average at a lot of positions) and situational hitting (read:bunts), plus Willie’s 2002 and Dobbs’ 2004 have given them a patina of offensive value that hasn’t worn off yet (I suspect it wears off once they become arbitration-eligible, though, if not earlier).

    And there’s a good argument for not tossing players around the diamond randomly based on need- there are players whose defensive game has suffered because they get shuffled all over the diamond. If the organization wants Lopez to stick in the majors at a particular position, he should PLAY IT for an extended period in the minors…and not get shunted around for no good reason. (Also, Hansen had a decent year last year spot starting at 3B- much better than as a PH.)

  39. mZak on June 16th, 2005 5:14 pm

    What would be the point of trading our most consistent pitcher at the moment for at remote prospect? I can’t see any team offering a trade that would be on the upside (for the M’s) for Sele. Who in their right mind would do that? The only GM I could think of would be Bavasi. Sele is pitching great for the M’s right now (winning ballgames in spite of his untrustworthy statistics) and that’s what we need right now. Why mess with it? He’s pitched better than the majority of pitchers in the league this past month. Outside of dreaming up these impossible trade scenarios, we should count our blessings (Borders) and admit Aaron Sele has value staying with the M’s after all.

  40. bilbo on June 16th, 2005 5:23 pm

    is it valuable to have a good starting pitcher, who isn’t signed past this year and provides little long-term help for a rebuilding team, to win a few more games this year when there is no hope of contending?

    I don’t know how you define value, but if they can get something for him that is of future value then pull the trigger. If not, offer him arbitration and collect a 1st round pick off of some other team in return. (interesting concept, no?)

  41. mZak on June 16th, 2005 5:35 pm

    Value, as in current value, is a pitcher who has returned from major surgery in the past few years, regained his form and confidence, is a proven winner and provides exactly what this team needs right now. I don’t know how to define “future value”, as nothing has been offerred for him. It’s just fantasy at the moment. What is certain is that the M’s got what they wanted when they signed him this past year. If anything make sense, though it may not be a popular opinon on this board, we might consider signing him for next year.

  42. Mycroft on June 16th, 2005 5:36 pm

    If the FO thought Nelson, Sele, and Hansen were “win now” moves, we’re *really* in trouble. As fun as it is to play the cynic, I can’t believe the team overestimated their abilities that much.

    A true “win now” move would have likely involved trading what few prospects we have for a marginal, but established, ML player.

    Instead, I think the FO was looking for some way to reach respectability (i.e. .500) this year without paying a significant price. I think they did a pretty good job. If you know it’s going to take a couple of years to repair the team and you don’t want to be embarrassing in the meantime, these signings make sense to me. They didn’t cost anything in money or prospects and you can cut them any time you find something better.

    I think the only thing that would be bad about these signings is if they made these moves instead of a deal that would help long-term or instead of promoting a ML-ready prospect.

    If they end up being able to get any value for these guys this summer, and we then get to bring up players like Campillo and Sherrill for the second half, I would call that a pretty good outcome given where we were at the end of last year.

  43. Digger on June 16th, 2005 5:42 pm


    Look no further than the box scores for April 5 and May 11 for the two losses Thornton contributed. Valdez’ 2 month VORP was -7 (minus 7!).

    You can hardly condemn Hargrove for not using the bench Bavasi gave him. You can already see his inclination to use Hansen as a pinch-hitter now that he has him.

  44. Grizz on June 16th, 2005 6:04 pm

    #41: Sele is a free agent at the end of the year, so a trade in no way forecloses him from re-signing with his hometown team for next year (not that the M’s should). Considering every year contending teams give up good prospects for mediocre veteran starters having good seasons, it is reasonable to expect that the M’s could trade Sele for a prospect who could contribute over the next few years for minimal salary. If the Rays can get Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano, the M’s certainly could get a pretty good relief prospect for Sele. Looking at the Future Forty, this team desperately needs that kind of help.

  45. Jim Thomsen on June 16th, 2005 6:24 pm

    #39 — I disagree. Sele turns 35 this month, and has been a terrible pitcher for years. He’s in the midst of what is likely a small bubble of good performance. There’s virtually no chance he can be a part of a winning Mariner team in 2006, and the longer we hang on to him this year, the greater the risk that he reverts into his previous pumpkin state. He represents an ideal flip-at-the-deadline scenario. We may not get more than a minor prospect, but at least such a deal would represent an investment in a possible good future as opposed to hanging onto him and watching the league readjust to his mediocrity, aging and ever-present re-injury risk.

    Despite all that, I stand by my belief that contending teams desperate to keep up with their deal-making competitors at the deadline will suddenly see merit in Sele if he keeps up his current run of good outings. Like I said, if he’s 9-6, 3.69 in the last week of July, a lot of teams hungry for any thin edge — especially ones with holes in the rotation — will certainly overspend in the hopes that he’ll be a steadying veteran who will keep them going in September.

    It happens every deadline, and will happen again this time. Just watch.

  46. wabbles on June 16th, 2005 6:27 pm

    If this were the 70s or 80s, I’d say keep Sele around because he’s as good (or better) than we can expect from anyone else. But as this is the…00s (?)….let’s see what we can get for him, now or in July.
    This is just like 1999, it’s not worth scraping for every win because 82 wins versus 77 wins (Hey, I can dream.) isn’t going to make a big difference versus planning for next year.
    I’m also terrified at the prospect of the FO re-signing him for $3 million over two years with a vested third year based upon innings pitched.
    That’s why we need to trade him for a Rob Ramsay-type (without the brain tumor)of AAA pitcher who can replace Hasegawa or Nelson in the bullpen or Sele in the rotation.

  47. Colm on June 16th, 2005 6:51 pm

    Marginally related note: “Rob Neyer says Felis Hernandez might be the best 19 year old pitcher in more than 20 years.” Quothe ESPN online. I’ve ditched my insider subscription as bad value.

    Anyone got the skinny on what Mr Neyer is saying about the kid who might replace our nice lucky local boy Aaron, when we flip Sele for a replacement level reliever?

  48. Colm on June 16th, 2005 6:53 pm

    I believe that should read “Felix Hernandez”.

    I need to go cut my nails.

  49. mZak on June 17th, 2005 1:21 pm


    We have reasonable pitching. We need bats. We need runs. Two years of being last in the league in run production and we’re still looking to trade perfectly capable pitcher for another pitcher?

  50. Xteve X on June 17th, 2005 4:26 pm

    #49: We have average at best pitching that is being made to look much better than it really is because of stellar defense. Look at the pathetic K/9 rates of this year’s M’s staff. Sele is the product of luck + pitching in an extreme pitcher’s park + having a very good defense behind him. Would you concede that this is not a playoff contending team? If so, what’s the point of keeping Sele when contending teams will be willing to pay dearly for him in prospects?

    Sele may be “perfectly capable” to you so far this season, but to expect him to sustain this kind of performance all year long is foolish.