One Run Games

Dave · June 12, 2007 at 8:07 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners just finished up winning their fourth game in a row, all over quality opponents, on the road. They’ve made up some ground in both the division and wild card races, and have pushed themselves to eight games over .500. They’ve done it with the awesomeness of J.J. Putz, a resurgence from Raul Ibanez, and a bunch of clutch hits.

If you hadn’t noticed, all four wins have come by one run: 6-5, 6-5, 4-3, and 8-7. The Mariners are now 10-7 in one run games after going 20-24 in such contests last year. That kind of swing will make a big difference on the team’s final record.

Because one run games are often decided by a good bounce here or a bad call there, one run W/L records are often disconnected from the actual ability of a team. The Washington Nationals are probably the worst team in baseball this year, getting outscored by over a run per game, but they’re 12-9 in one run games. The Indians, Angels, and Red Sox look like the three best teams in the AL to date, and as a group, they’re a combined 27-21 in one run games. Last year, the Yankees won 97 games, but were just 24-22 in one run affairs.

Basically, winning one run games is awesome, and doing so over teams like San Diego and Cleveland is even better. Any win against those teams is a good thing, and there’s no end-of-season adjustment for run differential when they’re handing out playoff spots. So, yea, there are all kinds of reasons to have enjoyed this four game stretch, with some weaker opponents coming up, this has the potential to turn into a nice long winning streak.

But, if you see somebody writing about how these last four games have proven the character, heart, and guts of this team, just ignore them. Just like last year’s team wasn’t a bunch of selfish jerks for struggling in one run games, this team isn’t a bunch of heroic lionhearts for winning them. I’m all for winning as many one run games as possible, but I’m not interested in assigning character representations to these guys based on how they do in games that are decided by such small margins.

I’d rather deal with the reality of on the field performance and leave the clubhouse leadership/chemistry ramblings to others. And, the reality is, this team is mashing the ball lately. After last night’s game, the team is now hitting .318/.374/.443 in June, averaging 6.5 runs per game, and getting production up and down the order. As mentioned, Ibanez has given those of us who thought he was done the finger, hitting .364/.417/.682 in the last 10 games, while Jose Lopez and Kenji Johjima continue to make a push for inclusion in the all-star game. Yuniesky Betancourt is on another one of his singles-fest hot streaks, while Jose Guillen just keeps being a solid hitter and Ichiro continues to be Ichiro! Sexson and Vidro continue to struggle, but that’s not new, and the rest of the team is making up for their out-making ways.

When the M’s built this line-up, they pointed to the depth of the offense being a key point, and in that sense, it’s paid off. The M’s have gotten more production from their 7-8-9 guys than any other team in baseball, and it’s helped offset the fact that their 2-3-4 guys have been pretty horrible.

The M’s still have the kind of offense that goes in streaks, and I’m sure we’ll be railing about their frustrating approach as some no name A-ball pitcher shuts them down with an 83 MPH fastball later this year, but for now, it’s fun rooting for a team that can score runs in bunches.


115 Responses to “One Run Games”

  1. joser on June 12th, 2007 1:56 pm

    Crap, so much for format-fu. Well, just look at the ends of the liness.

  2. eric on June 12th, 2007 1:57 pm

    My first thought was a good record in 1 run games could be due to a good closer. But as I thought about I realized it doesn’t really say that at all. Losing a 1 run game can easily be falling behind 5-4 in the 2nd inning and neither team scores again, bullpen has nothing to do with it. Counter intuitively a good bullpen could actually mean more 1 run loses. A team with a bad bullpen falls behind 5-4 early and their pen gives up more runs so they lose big. The good pullpen keeps it to a 1 run game.

  3. VaughnStreet on June 12th, 2007 2:13 pm

    Last night I watched one of the Ms two or three best hitters at PGE Park in Portland. I just don’t understand what more Adam Jones can learn from facing 85 mph fastballs from AAA pitchers who will never make it to the show. Imagine the Ms lineup with Jones in LF, Ibanez at DH and Vidro anywhere but in Seattle. This isn’t just about Jones’ development into a big league outfielder. He already is one. It’s about winning.

  4. Paul B on June 12th, 2007 2:17 pm

    in reference to #93, 94, 95:

    The M’s are 9th in the AL in doubles, 13th in triples, 10th in homers. And, as we all know, last in walks. (and for what it is worth, which isn’t much, they are 10th in steals).

    So, I’ll stand by my assertion that their offense comes down to hitting singles. They are 3rd in the AL in hits.

  5. SDRE on June 12th, 2007 2:27 pm

    Jones only played last year for a month. If the M’s wait until September call-ups, promote him and then he play regularly next year, when does his service time begin? Are they delaying his call-up to extend his free agency year for another year in the future?

  6. Chris Miller on June 12th, 2007 2:32 pm

    They’r also 2nd to last in PA. They’re 7th in 2B/PA and 9th in HR/PA, all while playing at Safeco, which isn’t so bad, but yeah, it’s mostly a barage of singles, which has basically made of for the lack of walks. Actually now that I look, they’re WAY above the pack in 1B/PA.

  7. Chris Miller on June 12th, 2007 2:35 pm

    We should have Jones in the field. 2 wins could be the difference between sneaking into the Wildcard or Division and watching the playoffs at home.

  8. dnc on June 12th, 2007 2:39 pm

    103, I love Adam Jones, but I think the idea that he’s one of our two or three best hitters is crazy. I SERIOUSLY doubt he’s better than Kenji or Ichiro right now. I suppose the argument could be made he’s better than the Ibanez/Beltre/Lopez cluster, but I’m not convinced.

    I like AJ a lot. I think it’s clear that he belongs in the show. I just don’t think it’s fair to expect the kid to put up an .800 OPS in Seattle right now (which is what he’d have to do to be one of our top 3 hitters).

  9. Chris Miller on June 12th, 2007 2:43 pm

    The M’s are on pace to score 853 runs at Safeco. That’s like a 900 run offense in a neutral park, which I’m not so sure is their actual talent level (I’m pretty sure it’s lower than that).

    I do think getting/developing higher average right handers instead of higher power ones is not a bad approach given the park. Safeco has a positive 1B park factor for both LHB and RHB.

  10. Chris Miller on June 12th, 2007 2:50 pm

    not 853 runs AT safeco, but 853 runs while playign half of their games at Safeco.

  11. Morgan on June 12th, 2007 3:25 pm

    If baseball experts are going to chalk the M’s one-run wins to luck, I say the M’s are due for some luck anyway, with their schedule and all.

    Check out the love at CBS sports

  12. carcinogen on June 12th, 2007 4:08 pm

    I agree with 106, the PA differential may be affecting those raw rankings. However, Sexson and Ibanez…not to mention Vidro, have not given them much power, so if they heat up, those raw slugging numbers would rise.

  13. Gomez on June 12th, 2007 4:27 pm

    One run wins are like quality starts: something for the media to fill airtime talking about and nothing more.

    When a game is close, who wins or loses basically comes down to circumstance, unless (maybe) one of the teams involved has an incredibly crappy bullpen, and even then, the team’s overall record often bears that crappiness out in some part, since that crappy bullpen’s being crappy in every game, not just one run games.

  14. eponymous coward on June 12th, 2007 4:33 pm

    Right, but there is an element of “luck is the residue of design”- while bad teams are closer to .500 as a whole on one-run games, and good teams are closer to .500 as well, there’s still positive correlation between one-run record and overall record…it’s just weaker than 1.0 because luck is a bigger factor than in blowouts.

  15. Evan on June 12th, 2007 5:39 pm

    Right now, Raul’s EqA is .292.

    His 2004 EqA: .292

    His 2005 EqA: .292

    Talk about consistent.

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