2005 Year in Review
Early in the week I had written up the Rogers Hornsby quote about what to do doing winter on a markerboard in my house. The guy who lives next to me – an unabashed Yankee lover – says to me, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nice quote. But I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get it. The season is just starting.Ã¢â‚¬Â
I wanted to punch him in the face.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the final tally on the MarinersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 2005, because the baseball season is definitely over.
Wins: 69. Losses: 93. Games out of first place: 26.
The Mariners claim the cellar for the second consecutive season, and rumor has it, become the first team since Connie MackÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Philadelphia AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to follow-up a pair of 90-win seasons with a pair of 90-loss seasons. Nevermind that the MÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s had four 90-win seasons prior to last year. But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s for another day. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only the second time since 1992 (donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t count Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ94) that the Mariners failed to win 70 games. On the bright side (bright as in dark and dreary as a November afternoon in Seattle), there happen to be 10 seasons in Mariner history that were worse than this one, according to winning percentage. Again on the plus side, the Mariners improved by 6 games over last year. And they finished 3 games closer to first place. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something, ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it?
Runs Scored: 699 (13th in the American League). Batting average: .256 (last). On-base percentage: .318 (last). Slugging percentage: .392 (13th). Home runs: 129 (13th). Bases on balls: 466 (8th). EqA: .249 (12th, tied with Kansas City). The American league average is .267/.328/.424.
Runs allowed: 751 (7th). Staff ERA: 4.47 (7th). DIPS ERA: 4.64 (12th). Strikeouts: 885 (last). Bases on balls: 495 (9th). Home runs allowed: 178 (10th, tied with Baltimore). Starters ERA: 4.92 (11th). Relievers ERA: 3.52 (5th). Defensive efficiency: 70.2% (5th).
A proposal to the MÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s marketing for a 2006 slogan: Seattle Baseball – At least itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the 80Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s anymore!
For all the rhetoric about a re-made offense last winter, the Mariners improved by exactly 1 run in the offense department. Just one. But donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go blaming Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson. There are dozens of reasons to postulate just why the offense took 3 steps forward and 2 back. While the offense looked none too good, it really looked none too bad, either, at least by Seattle standards. Thirteen Mariner teams have scored fewer runs, though to be fair, two of them were in strike-shortened years. So, this was a pretty middle-of-the-pack season in regards to runs scored.
I know, I know what youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re saying by now – Ã¢â‚¬Å“Seattle standards suck.Ã¢â‚¬Â And, unfortunately, this is true. The Mariners have a cumulative pythagorean winning percentage of .477. And playing for a .477 season isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re after. Being the last team standing in October – thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re after. What IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m interested here is historical perspective.
This yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s squad scored 4.31 runs per game, which ranks 17th out of 29 seasons. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s comparable to the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ79 team (one that carried five starters with sub-.330 OBPs, including a .198-hitting Mario Mendoza), the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ91 team (one with Dave Valle and Omar Vizquel and their sub-.300 SLGs and a 21-year-old Griffey and his 22 home runs) and the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ89 team (where Jeffrey Leonard led the team with 21 home runs but with a .302 OBP). Not an impressive year at the plate, but if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been reading here at all, you already knew that.
But scoring runs isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t everything. Remember the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ96 Mariners? They scored more than 6 a game, but also gave up more runs than any Seattle team had seen at that point and won only 85 games. This yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team, which allowed 751 runs, again ranks right in the middle against previous Mariner teams. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re sandwiched between the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ84 team (led by a 23-year-old Mark Langston and his 204 strikeouts in 225 innings) and the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ88 team (another rotation anchored by Langston). Before we jump to conclusions in celebrating nine on the field who could catch the ball, keep in the mind that the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defensive efficiency was better than Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ04 by just one-tenth of a percent.
Scoring runs and preventing them is not an either/or proposition. A team must do both. You have to score more runs the other team if you want to win a game, and especially if you want to win a championship. Unfortunately, the 2005 teams didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do that. The opposition outscored the Mariners by 52 runs, which over the course of 162 games doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sound like very much to me. Given that the Mariners have outscored opponents by 100 or more runs four times (namely four times in a row, 2000-03) and been outscored by 100 or more eight times (including last season), this season doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look so bad. In fact, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pretty par for the course as far as Mariner teams go. Six teams have finished the season outscored by margins of between 40 and 60.
Richie Sexson put all concerns about a damaged shoulder to rest for one season, leading the team with a .317 EqA and 56.1 VORP. He was fourth in the league among first baseman in VORP, just a hairs-breadth behind Jason Giambi (58.3) and Paul Konerko (56.3). He also led the team in doubles (36, tied with Beltre), home runs (39), walks (89), on-base percentage (.369) and slugging percentage (.541). It was the most home runs ever by a Seattle first baseman. Both Paul Sorrento in Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ97 and Tino Martinez in Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ95 hit 31, and they both had the advantage of the Kingdome. It was a vast improvement over the first base situation of last year, where the Mariners got only 15 home runs and a .392 SLG out of first base.
Jamie Moyer led the team with 200 innings pitched and a 30.5 VORP. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to know if any pitcher in baseball benefited from his home park more than Moyer. His ERA at Safeco Field was 2.95 but 6.11 everywhere else. King Felix appeared in less than half of MoyerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s innings (84.3) yet nearly matched his VORP (28.6). Felix was fifth on the entire team in VORP. He had the highest K/9 (8.22) and lowest ERA (2.67) among all Seattle starters. Most impressive was his HR/9 at 0.53. For perspective, consider that the top fifteen pitchers in VORP all gave up less than a home run per nine innings. Of those fifteen Cy Young hopefuls, only Roger Clemens and Dontrelle Willis were stingier with home runs than King Felix.
In 157 plate appearances, Miguel Olivo Ã¢â‚¬Å“hitÃ¢â‚¬Â .151/.172/.276, which tranlsated into a lineup-sinking -12.8 VORP and a disgusting .140 EqA. To add insult to injury, Olivo was traded to San Diego July 31 and in 124 plate appearances for the Padres hit .304/.339/.487 with a 12.4 VORP.
For 116 innings the 35-year-old Aaron Sele provided less than replacement-level value for the Mariners with a 5.66 ERA and -0.9 VORP. In his final start that got him voted off the island, Sele allowed 9 runs to the Indians and labored through 98 pitches in just 4 brutal innings.
As a fan, one learns to take the good with the bad. Though, in Seattle this season there was more to disappoint than inspire. While Richie Sexson and Felix Hernandez provided a bright spot and a really bright spot, the second 90-loss season in a row leaves a bitter taste in mouths of the Seattle faithful and the pressure on Bill Bavasi to stop the bleeding and quick. Or else.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a busy winter.