So, this is what happens when all the authors decide to have lives – we miss a game thread. Sorry about that. If it makes you feel any better, though, Derek just biked about 2,431 miles (hey, I said about), Jason has been prepping some of the best food in Seattle, I’m in the process of painting my living room, and Jeff’s working on his book (not a novel, a good story) about the poetic stylings of Japanese professional wrestlers (he’s not – I actually don’t know what he’s doing, but he could, I’m sure).
So, yea, sorry.
Oh, and here’s an interesting tidbit. Take a look at these home-road splits for Mariner hitters who have played at least semi-regularly this year.
Ichiro – home: .360/.410/.475, road: .326/.385/.414
Beltre – home: .225/.284/.324, road: .290/.358/.475
Lopez – home: .250/.303/.389, road: .314/.333/.520
Ibanez – home: .301/.375/.557, road: .262/.325/.506
Sexson – home: .198/.267/.395, road: .242/.315/.441
Everett – home: .225/.314/.384, road: .240/.297/.352
Johjima – home: .231/.311/.351, road: .338/.362/.556
Betancourt – home: .303/.329/.375, road: .271/.286/.424
Reed – home: .196/.255/.330, road: .235/.264/.417
Team – home: .256/.318/.397, road: .279/.327/.446
The guys who hit better at Safeco: Ichiro, Ibanez, and Everett, all left-handed. The guys who hit better away from Safeco: Beltre, Lopez, Johjima, Sexson, and Reed. Four of the five are right-handed. Betancourt’s a push, basically.
The M’s offense is essentially crippled at Safeco Field, when you turn the four righthanders into automatic outs, and rely on Ichiro and Ibanez to provide all the offense.
Safeco is absolutely death to right-handed hitters. This isn’t a one year fluke. It’s almost certainly the hardest park in baseball for a right-handed power hitter to ply his trade.
The M’s seriously need to consider adjusting dimensions of Safeco Field. With the way its currently configured, the team stands a huge risk of every RH hitter they acquire failing to live up to their potential while playing for the team, simply due to the nature of their home park. Over 60% of all major league hitters swing from the right-side. And because of how Safeco plays, most of them have to be eliminated from consideration for employment by the Mariners, because there’s little to no chance that they’ll perform at a level commensurate with their salary while playing in Seattle.
It also creates the problem of the raw statistics hiding the true talent level of a player. The team, the fans, and the media often lament the team’s lack of offense and credit the solid pitching for keeping the M’s in contention this year. Except that is just wrong. The offense is the strength of this team. The pitching rotation has been absolutely abysmal away from Safeco Field, but their overall numbers are significantly aided by the effects of their home park.
As such, the Mariners run the risk of mis-evaluating the talent on hand, eliminating good hitters (Mike Cameron, anyone?) and acquiring or re-signing lousy pitchers (too many to name).
You can still have Safeco be a pitcher’s park without it destroying almost all right-handed hitters. Push the RF fence back, create a bit more foul territory, and for God’s sake, bring in the fences in left-center. The ballpark is putting an undo burden on the front office to find players who can succeed in this park. Even things out, and give them more guys to choose from.