August Offense

Dave · August 24, 2007 at 7:32 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Since I haven’t finished the second post on projecting players yet, but don’t want to have another day with no substantive posts, here’s a stub.

M’s offense, by month:

April: .266/.310/.413, 736 PA, .147 ISO, 5.3% BB, 14.5% K, .283 BABIP, 97 sOPS+
May: .291/.345/.433, 1162 PA, .142 ISO, 6.9% BB, 12.4% K, .309 BABIP, 108 sOPS+
June: .290/.348/.416, 1053 PA, .126 ISO, 7.1% BB, 16.2% K, .323 BABIP, 102 sOPS+
July: .262/.320/.374, 1045 PA, .112 ISO, 7.4% BB, 16.2% K, .294 BABIP, 84 sOPS+
August: .333/.374/.527, 748 PA, .194 ISO, 5.2% BB, 14.6% K, .354 BABIP, 131 sOPS+

For those not familiar with the terms, ISO is Isolated Slugging, or SLG-BA, which basically tells you the power that a player (or team, in this case) is hitting for. For instance, looking at SLG, you’d think the team hit for more power in May than in April, but that’s actually not true – the SLG was just inflated by an increase in singles. BB% and K% should be self explanatory, and help show just how aggressive this team is. BABIP is batting average on balls in play, essentially removing home runs and strikeouts from the equation, and show how often a ball that stays in the field turns into a hit. And sOPS+ is the team’s park adjusted OPS compared to the league for each month. So, in April, the team hit 3% worse than average, then improved to 8% above average in May, 2% above average in June, fell apart to the tune of 16% below average in July, but has owned August, hitting 31% better than the rest of the league.

As you can see, the increase in offense has been driven by two forces – an increase in power (I’m looking at you, Raul) and a huge increase in BABIP (Yep, that’s Vidro). With those two reaching unprecedented levels of production and the rest of the offense not taking a nosedive, the M’s have turned into a veritable run scoring machine.

We’ve talked about the sustainability factor of those performances, but here’s the thing – this hyper aggressive approach comes with significant variance, but that variance comes with a built in upside – over any period of weeks, the M’s can absolutely blister the ball. This is basically the blueprint the White Sox used to score their way to a World Series title – swing the bat a lot, get a lot of hits, have parade.

If the M’s make it to October, their offense is good enough to win the whole thing. On Groz’s show a few months ago, I commented that the big chore would be for this team to just make the playoffs, because if they got in, they’re built very well for October play. And I think that still holds very true.

Comments

94 Responses to “August Offense”

  1. Bernoulli on August 24th, 2007 7:41 am

    Another bonus for the Mariners in postseason play is the four-man rotation: dropping that fifth starter is a bigger upgrade for them than for any other team in baseball.

  2. LoydKristmis on August 24th, 2007 7:43 am

    “I commented that the big chore would be for this team to just make the playoffs, because if they got in, they’re built very well for October play. And I think that still holds very true.”

    I think everyone would agree that the hitting, fielding, and bullpen are built well for postseason play, but would they be able to overcome the severe disadvantage they would face against almost any possible opponent (maybe not Cleveland) when it comes to starting pitching?

    Young power pitchers seem to emerge in the playoffs, so Felix could be great, but starters 2, 3, and 4 (if they use a 4th) would likely be significant underdogs against the other possible AL playoff rotations.

  3. Rusty on August 24th, 2007 7:54 am

    Is OPS still a good rough cut measure of overall offensive production?

  4. Johan Garpenlov on August 24th, 2007 7:54 am

    The M’s would be at a disadvantage because of their starting pitching, but Dave’s point about the offense shows how that can be mitigated. An aggressive approach against Matsuzaka and Schilling for example can still get lucky and result in enough hits to knock those guys around. I always felt that was a problem in the postseason for the Athletics. Waiting for a pitcher to throw you three balls before you swing can win enough games against the bad pitchers to get you to the postseason. Yet when a playoff caliber rotation keeps getting 0-1 or 1-2 on you, you’re doomed. The Mariners approach won’t allow for this to happen. If those guys throw it over the plate, it’s gonna get hit and it is only a matter of whether the ball lands on the ground or in a glove.

  5. DarkKnight1680 on August 24th, 2007 8:03 am

    I think Weaver has shown he can play a little in the playoffs as well, if he stays with his current approach. Not convinced about Washburn and Batista, though.

  6. smb on August 24th, 2007 8:03 am

    We’re also at a disadvantage at our left field and first base defensive positions.

  7. F-Rod on August 24th, 2007 8:04 am

    I agree I love an aggressive team in the playoffs. Facing aces walks are harder to come by, you have to hit to win in the playoffs.

  8. DarkKnight1680 on August 24th, 2007 8:05 am

    6 – Not if we’re playing boston (for LF anyway)

  9. smb on August 24th, 2007 8:05 am

    Dave,

    Who would we have the best chance of beating in a divisional series and why, given the strategic realities you describe in this post?

  10. Russ on August 24th, 2007 8:09 am

    Wow..just wow. They have been fun to watch as of late. There were stretches that seemed like watching the inevitable train wreck however, these last weeks have been fun.

    I still mourn the lack of playing time for some of bench players. I think a more liberal use of the bench during the rough stretches would be the difference between being a game behind or being a game ahead in the standings.

    No matter now. Let’s GO M’s.

  11. smb on August 24th, 2007 8:10 am

    4,

    Interesting observation. Sounds pretty realistic to me as well. Getting ahead 0-1 or 0-2 against most hitters has the capacity to make even Jeff Weaver look like Cy Young.

  12. Safeco Hobo on August 24th, 2007 8:11 am

    Dave, great breakdown and analysis! Would it be possible to do the same thing for the M’s pitching staff? It’s interesting to look at the data above and recognise that August was a crazy hot month and July was a bit of a hiccup for the offense.

    It just seems the pitching staff has consistently gotten better from month to month. I would wonder if there was any good solid data to back that up, to help boost the fans confidence going into September.

  13. MarinerDan on August 24th, 2007 8:12 am

    The swing-at-everything approach is also what won the Angels a World Series. When things break right for those types of teams (as they are currently doing for the M’s), look out.

  14. dnc on August 24th, 2007 8:12 am

    Isn’t the flip side of this that the pitchers we are likely to face in the postseason are more likely to be smart enough to take advantage of our aggressive bats, and keep throwing them junk that they swing at and can’t hit?

  15. robbbbbb on August 24th, 2007 8:17 am

    Starting pitchers throw fewer innings in the playoffs, too. The effect of a bullpen is magnified, and the effect of the rotation diminished. (With some exceptions, like the ’05 White Sox.)

    That’s another reason to be high on the M’s if the make the playoffs.

  16. terry on August 24th, 2007 8:21 am

    OK Dave, I’m gonna buy another Ms jersey.

  17. Nat Irons on August 24th, 2007 8:27 am

    When presenting comparative data, have you considered using pre tags, and lining up the columns? It makes the information a little wider, but considerably easier to eyeball, as long as one isn’t using the browser on a Treo.

  18. HamNasty on August 24th, 2007 8:28 am

    I should get chastised for asking this I can’t seem to figure out how this happened. Vidro’s BA is higher then his BABIP, .388/.375. These are just August numbers.

    Does BABIP not discount for errors? I realize it doesn’t count HR’s but he only has 2. Can anyone help me out here???

  19. bigdad03 on August 24th, 2007 8:28 am

    Sometimes you can take stats and toss them out the window. A few days ago I made the claim that this years team was one of the best ever, maybe even better than ’01 or ’95.

    Some of you like to do a player to player comparisons using the stat of your choice to make your case. Well done, you must be a lawyer.

    I prefer to look at the team as a whole, rather than individual slices of performance. (Strange too how you chose to compare only one offensive and SP number and ignored the bullpen completely).

    When I look at this team as a whole, my “gut” tells me this team is better than ’01. I get the same feeling about this team like I did back in ’95. There’s an excitement, an attitude, a confidence that can’t be measured with stats. JJ, Guillen, Batista and Beltre among others are the behind scenes leaders on this team. Their demeanor and enthusiasm do more to stabilize this team than can be noted with stats.

    [deleted, steroids speculation, read the comment guidelines]

    Stand back gentlemen. You’re in for quite a ride. Print this post and paste it to your monitor. This is Seattle’s year.

  20. Dave on August 24th, 2007 8:30 am

    Is that you, Stephen Colbert?

  21. Carson on August 24th, 2007 8:32 am

    But, Dave, you’re (and everyone else here) always negative!

    //sarcasm

    These sure are exciting times, no? One. Game. Back.

  22. HamNasty on August 24th, 2007 8:34 am

    Two. Games. Up. I would take some wild card action but love me some Division!

  23. Bernoulli on August 24th, 2007 8:35 am

    I think it might be Mike Gastineau, actually.

  24. Carson on August 24th, 2007 8:45 am

    22 (HamNasty) _ I’m sure you know the Jay Buhner quote, so I’ll avoid cursing on the blog.

    I’m not going to predict a World Series win or anything, but winning the division would be leaps and bounds better for this team than winning the Wild Card. They would benefit greatly having HFA before the World Series, and that isn’t possible if you win the Wild Card.

  25. mln on August 24th, 2007 8:48 am

    Another great thing about the Mariners winning the World Series will be that catch phrases like “Funk Blast,” “Lollablueza,” and “Rally Fries” will become household words!

  26. HamNasty on August 24th, 2007 8:52 am

    24- Agree completely, but if its a case of WC or playing golf I will choose WC any day. Obviously the no HFA hurts, but being a WC team doesn’t mean you are out of it by any means. Ask the Marlins how they got their series and the Angels and Red Sox for that matter. That being said I would much rather beat the Angels and take the Divison.

  27. thefin190 on August 24th, 2007 8:52 am

    Do you think if the M’s make playoffs we’d see them on fox or espn more than once a year, or see them in commercials? Seemed to work for the tigers last year.

  28. Sec 108 on August 24th, 2007 8:54 am

    I totally agree that this team is built for the playoffs. There is a reason the Yankees and Mariners benefited from having Luis Sojo on their playoff rosters in years past. When you are playing quality teams with pitchers who throw a ton of strikes you need players who make contact and do not strike out. It forces the opposing teams defense to beat you.

    However, I am still fearful of our ability to get to the playoffs. Maybe the bad taste of ’02 and ’03 is still in my mouth. My gut keeps saying that this squad will be spent by the 2nd week of September. I hope I am wrong though because I miss skipping work for afternoon Playoff games.

  29. Rusty on August 24th, 2007 9:01 am

    When you are playing quality teams with pitchers who throw a ton of strikes you need players who make contact and do not strike out. It forces the opposing teams defense to beat you.

    Yea but… if the opposing team has pitchers who throw a ton of strikes, they probably have command of their pitches and can throw their pitches outside of the strike zone to impatient Mariner hitters forcing more K’s than normal and weakly hit balls.

    If the Mariners were packed with bad ball hitters like Sojo, Vladimir Guerrero or Manny Sanguillen, then your argument would make more sense to me. But I haven’t heard that the M’s hitters are necessarly superior bad ball hitters.

  30. Jeff Nye on August 24th, 2007 9:12 am

    bigdad03, I’d like to point out to you that statistics tend to be heavy; if you toss them out the window, someone could be badly injured.

  31. Sec 108 on August 24th, 2007 9:26 am

    Manny Sanguillen? Wow, haven’t heard that name in a while. I think it safe to say that Ichiro is one of the better bad ball hitters around. I do agree with your point in general, but I look at teams like the Yankees in recent years. They had a lineup top to bottom last year of patient hitters. It killed them against Detroit.

    Don’t get me wrong, I miss having a guy like Edgar who consistently is at the top of the leaderboard in OBA. I just see the value in a 7 game series of having players who aren’t standing there watching strikes on the outside corner all night long.

  32. davepaisley on August 24th, 2007 9:28 am

    The much touted “nine guys with 50 RBIs” is an interesting one simply because it demonstrates that the offense is very balanced. You can’t pitch around anybody on the team, really.

    (If you check the other side of the equation the lowest number of runs scored by the same 9 guys is 42, with only two guys under 50, so it’s easy to see that all 9 will be over 50 RBI and 50 Runs scored very soon.)

  33. davepaisley on August 24th, 2007 9:45 am

    And of course, a reason we have nine guys like that is that neither Grover nor Mac have a clue about bench usage, so it’s not all positive.

  34. Matt from Tacoma on August 24th, 2007 9:48 am

    I think that the rotation will be a significant disadvantage in a short series, but looking around at the other potential playoff teams, I don’t see any slam-dunk lights-out aces to worry about. Boston, NY, Anaheim, Cleveland – none of these teams feature a Cy Young level ace. Lackey is a hell of a pitcher, but the M’s have handled him before. Sabathia looks kinda tough, but not any better than the good Felix. This team could actually surprise people if the offense catches fire for a couple weeks.

    Here’s a question: How bad does Jose Lopez have to get before you start giving some ABs to Willie B? Does he need to get worse, or is he already there? Willie is awful, but Lopez looks completely lost up there. It’s like Jose walks to the plate with an 0-2 count before the first pitch is thrown.

  35. joser on August 24th, 2007 9:57 am

    Except that so far in August the M’s have played 3 games against Baltimore, six games against the White Sox, six games against the Twins, and a game (so far) against Texas. The only winning teams (not counting the flirting-with-.500 Twins) they’ve played this month are the three games against Boston and a game against the Angels. In other words, they’ve been feasting on the teams they should be beating, but it gets a little harder very soon: the Angels, the Yankees, Detroit, Toronto (yes, even Toronto, who are a winning team at home). In fact I’d say the three weeks starting Monday are the toughest slate of opponents they’ve seen since May/June, and may be the toughest 3 weeks on the entire schedule. So their August numbers are a little inflated, and probably peaking. Of course I’d love to see them sweep the Angels next week (and of course it’s possible to increase your offensive numbers in a slugfest that you still lose) but I think we need to keep a little perspective. Just like we shouldn’t have been jumping off bridges back during those losing streaks (nor should we if things get a little bumpy in the next few weeks).

    On the other other hand, they were playing a lot of bad teams in July, too, and they didn’t do nearly as well (Raul wasn’t healthy, Vidro didn’t have Ted Williams’ frozen head in his locker… who knows?) And they do have a stretch in the middle of September where they play 10 straight games against the A’s and the Devil Rays. Since the A’s don’t seem to be the uniquely frustrating opponent they have been in past years, that could provide quite a boost to the playoff hopes, particularly with the last Angels series immediately following.

  36. PeterCampbell on August 24th, 2007 10:05 am

    Dave – but doesn’t this require that Ibanez and Vidro remain hot in the postseason?

  37. awolfgang on August 24th, 2007 10:06 am

    #34

    ummmm…. Daiske, Beckett, Escobar, Lackey, Wang, Clemens, I think all can be considered lights out. O.k. maybe a stretch on Clemens, but he still knows he owns the M’s, it’s a mental thing.

  38. awolfgang on August 24th, 2007 10:07 am

    #37 was in response to #34 comments
    I don’t see any slam-dunk lights-out aces to worry about. Boston, NY, Anaheim, Cleveland – none of these teams feature a Cy Young level ace.

  39. Ralph Malph on August 24th, 2007 10:23 am

    I’m hoping, for the playoffs, that they shorten the pitching staff and pick up one more bat. They’ll have to make the move by 8/31 in order to do that.

    They certainly won’t need a 12-man pitching staff in the playoffs, with the extra off days (even if they need one now, which I don’t think they do). An extra bat would do them a lot more good in the playoffs. Especially if they get to the World Series, with NL rules half the time.

    The interesting question is who do you want for an extra bat? I wouldn’t be surprised if they pick up a veteran pinch-hitter type on 8/31, given Bavasi’s love of veterans.

    Within the system, I would think Morse is the guy they bring up. I doubt Bavasi would want to break Balentien in during the heat of a pennant race or playoffs. At least Morse has a bit of major league experience, he’s had a good year, and he can play multiple positions (though none of them well). Another backup infielder would make more sense than another outfielder from a positional standpoint.

    Of course it doesn’t make that much difference since McLaren doesn’t use the bench he has. But I think he would manage differently in the playoffs.

  40. Adam S on August 24th, 2007 10:32 am

    Ditto what awolfgang said. Only the Twins and the Orioles feature a “Cy Young level” ace, but the Red Sox, Angels, and Indians (Sabathia, Carmona) feature a pretty good 1-2 punch. I wouldn’t write off a rotation with Clemens, Mussina, and Pettite either; they aren’t what they once were but all have the stuff to be a force over three weeks (or really two games which is all we care about).

    I think some of the Mariners offensive uptick is real. Ibanez and Sexson have gone from replacement level or worse to solid and simply bad, respectively. Ibanez won’t hit at an MVP level but I think he can be more inline with 2005, 2006, and his 2007 PECOTA than his April-July. “May” is a realistic expectation going forward. That said this team will continue to have problems with right-handed pitching, and they’d see a healthy dose in the playoffs, if they insist on hitting Guillen and Sexson in the middle of the order to go along with Lopez and Betancourt.

  41. Manzanillos Cup on August 24th, 2007 10:39 am

    Since the All-Star break, we’ve basically been batting a pitcher in the 8 hole too.

    I worry that the team is set on sticking it out with the chunky right side of our “young middle infield core” for the entirety of his 4 year contract. He’s hasn’t shown much offensive improvement since 2004.

    BTW, for all the flack Vidro takes for his size around here, Lopez seems to get a free pass – he looks like he could lose 20 pounds. That being said, Lopez leaves no complaints about his defense.

  42. awolfgang on August 24th, 2007 10:47 am

    Don’t worry, Lopez has those clauses in his contract regardind weight and run times and some other things that will take a hit on his wallet if he doesn’t do them, and there is no motivator like money.

    Personally, I don’t understand the haste to throw Lopez away, he is to young and has the right tools that just need to be tweaked, the case against the older players not playing well is that they are at the end of their careers, so we shouldn’t expect a major shift to be more productive, unless you pull an Ibanez 2006 season out of your arse

  43. msb on August 24th, 2007 10:48 am

    Manny Sanguillen? Wow, haven’t heard that name in a while.

    oh, Manny comes up here, every now and then :)

  44. Sammy on August 24th, 2007 10:48 am

    Another great thing about the Mariners winning the World Series will be that catch phrases like “Funk Blast,” “Lollablueza,” and “Rally Fries” will become household words!

    Oh man. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take weeks/months of “Lollablueza fever”. Just looking at the word makes me cringe; it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me.

  45. mln on August 24th, 2007 10:50 am

    I believe that this year’s playoffs will have an extra day of rest, so that will enable teams to go with a 3-man starting staff in the 5-game division series if they so choose.

    This is another benefit for the Mariners’ starters if they only have to use Felx, Washburn, and Batista.

  46. rsrobinson on August 24th, 2007 10:57 am

    This is the second year in a row that Lopez has gone into a second half hitting swoon so maybe it does have something to do with conditioning. He might be a guy who just needs more days off over the course of the season.

  47. ghug on August 24th, 2007 11:00 am

    I hope the production continues.
    Great post Dave.

    45-Weaver is pitching better than Washburn in the second half.

    P.S. This sickens me, look at the options for this poll:
    http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/sportsnation/polling?event_id=3058

  48. Jeff Nye on August 24th, 2007 11:00 am

    I think it’s definitely appropriate to be concerned about Lopez’s offense at this point.

    It’s not appropriate to “throw him away”, but it’d be nice to get some insight as to what’s going on. I’m assuming that the Hargrove-mandated “ground every pitch you see to the right side” effect is no longer in place, but maybe McLaren is carrying it over? Maybe there’s something else going on?

    He’s still a big plus over Princess Willie in my mind (especially since one of the things I dislike about Willie is that once he gets a taste of playing time he won’t shut up about wanting to be a regular starter), but it’s definitely worth wondering what’s causing his offensive falloff.

  49. Chris Miller on August 24th, 2007 11:01 am

    A few days ago I made the claim that this years team was one of the best ever, maybe even better than ‘01 or ‘95.

    A few days ago I made the claim that five hundred foot pandas sent by aliens, with laser vision and nuclear breath destroyed the east coast and all of the news, TV, and phone calls, and internet posts we see from people (including Dave :( ), are really fake reproductions made by the aliens to fool us into thinking the east coast is still there.

    Making a claim doesn’t make it true. There is no way on earth this team is better than ’01 or ’95.

  50. Chris Miller on August 24th, 2007 11:04 am

    That was a little harsh. This teams pretty good, but no where near the 01 crew. We’ve been a real surprise, but with a rotation of Felix, a couple #4 starters, a #5 starter, and the worst pitcher one can find, and a defense that has real trouble converting outs, we’re no where near one of the best, even one of the best M’s squads.

  51. davepaisley on August 24th, 2007 11:09 am

    As bad as Lopez is, he’s not exactly at a pitcher level. Sure, Tim Hudson sports a sexy .503 OPS (higher than Lopez’ Post-AS .486) but Brandon Webb’s down at .150 over 57 AB.

  52. Manzanillos Cup on August 24th, 2007 11:13 am

    Don’t worry, Lopez has those clauses in his contract…

    Yep, but why do they have to put those in the contract in the first place? Maintaining top physical condition will improve performance and prevent injuries, which can mean millions of dollars in future contracts. If you’re into money, that should be motivation enough.

    I suppose for all I know Lopez is working his butt off, even though he gives off that “lazy” aura. I sure hope pulls out of this funk.

  53. scottg02 on August 24th, 2007 11:23 am

    50- I think Washburn and Weaver are better then a couple of number four starters. If Felix is on, I think Felix, Weaver, Washburn/Batista isn’t too bad. Certainly not great, but like it has been with this team all year, if we can somehow get a lead into the late innings we’re tough to beat.

  54. RoninX on August 24th, 2007 11:24 am

    This offensive roll couldn’t have come at a better time either. Its seems like the M’s have batted around 3-4 times in the last week. This whole 17 of 20 on the road stretch had me scared out of my mind a week ago. There is a long way to go but starting 3/4 has me hoping we’ll still be in this thing after we come out the other end!

    Yay for offensive productive! Hoping it holds!

  55. beckya57 on August 24th, 2007 11:32 am

    I think I see what you mean about the offense and October, but what about the pitching? It’s always seemed to me that the most crucial elements of October success are having at least 2 dominant starters and a dominant closer. The M’s certainly have the latter, but what about the starters? Yes, Felix is capable of dominating, but he hasn’t done so in quite a while, and has shown that he is young and still has a lot to learn about pitching. I just don’t see him as ready for October. Ironically, Jeff Weaver is our other best bet to dominate, and of course he’s already shown he can do that in the WS, but he’s also been extremely erratic (though better lately). Bautista and Washburn are merely decent pitchers, and Bautista in particular is always a risk to get lit up. We obviously wouldn’t be using HoRam in October, but overall I just don’t see this rotation as up to the job. Lest I be accused of anti-M’s prejudice, I question the Yankees’ postseason prospects for the same reasons.

  56. joser on August 24th, 2007 11:36 am

    He might be a guy who just needs more days off over the course of the season.

    Unfortunately, he’s been playing for managers who don’t seem to grasp the concept. Then again, that does mean more Willie (who, I must say, did a heck of a job at 3rd the other night).

    Another great thing about the Mariners winning the World Series will be that catch phrases like “Funk Blast,” “Lollablueza,” and “Rally Fries” will become household words!

    You think that would be great? Really?

    (I find “funk blast” somewhat amusing, inasmuch as it suggests nothing so much as a euphemism for flatulence; but as to the others… Rally Fries at least has the virtue of being an apparently spontaneous creation without the dirty handprints of “marketing” but I think it’s unfortunate that it’s not more Seattle-centric. Rally Clams, perhaps, or Rally Ichirolls, might be more appropriate. More expensive, too, of course).

    BTW, for all the flack Vidro takes for his size around here, Lopez seems to get a free pass – he looks like he could lose 20 pounds. That being said, Lopez leaves no complaints about his defense.

    Lopez can look like the Michelin Man for all I care, as long as he gets to the balls he should get too. And he does. Vidro… not so much. Vidro isn’t quite as slow or lacking in agility as he looks, but he’s not an asset defensively and he’s no threat on the basepaths. As long as he keeps “hitting them where they ain’t” he’s a fine offensive addition, but we know that singles hitters tend to be streaky, and the team can’t really afford to have him “hit them where they are” for any extended length of time.

    BTW, this is a pretty balanced look at how the AL is shaping up in the run for the postseason. It’s abundantly clear the M’s have the toughest schedule among all the contenders (which, should they make it, will make the victory all the sweeter).

  57. Dayve on August 24th, 2007 11:38 am

    Don’t you need at least 2, preferably 3, very strong starting pitchers to be built well as a playoff team?

  58. joser on August 24th, 2007 11:40 am

    Yep, but why do they have to put those in the contract in the first place? Maintaining top physical condition will improve performance and prevent injuries, which can mean millions of dollars in future contracts. If you’re into money, that should be motivation enough.

    He’s young, and he may have been able to rely on pure talent for quite a while. Not everybody is as motivated to hit the stairmaster, or sees as much results when they do. And it’s hard to take the long view when you’re a kid. Who knows how Griffey’s career would’ve gone if he’d been as diligent about stretching and fitness as Ichiro?

  59. beckya57 on August 24th, 2007 11:41 am

    49–Overall, of course, you’re absolutely right that the 2001 team, in particular, was a much better team than this one. But I think you and Dave are talking about different things. He’s talking about playoff capabilities. I think the huge differences between what wins in the regular season vs. the postseason aren’t always recognized. The 2001 pitching staff, in particular, was almost perfectly built for the regular season, but was a poor fit for the playoffs. Depth in the rotation is probably the biggest single factor in regular season success, and the 2001 team had that in spades: 5 very good, but not great, starters. In particular, their 4th and 5th starters were much better than most teams’. Unfortunately, in the playoffs, 5th starters are virtually useless, and 4th starters aren’t much help either. In the playoffs, what matters is having a couple of dominant starters, and the M’s didn’t have any. I think the near-miss against Cleveland is even more revealing than the Yankees’ easy win: a vastly inferior team nearly eliminated the M’s, primarily because of Colon and Sabathia. Against the Yankees, the M’s were disadvantaged in every pitching matchup except Moyer-El Duque, and of course that’s the one game they one. (Clemens against Paul Abbott???) So the point is that while the 2001 team was much better overall, it wasn’t well built for the postseason in some ways. I’m not totally convinced this one is either, but I can see Dave’s argument.

  60. joser on August 24th, 2007 11:43 am

    Don’t you need at least 2, preferably 3, very strong starting pitchers to be built well as a playoff team?

    It certainly helps. But just some guys getting hot arms at the right time can do it. Just ask the Marlins, or any one of a number of other “unlikely” WS winners. Hell, just ask Jeff Weaver.

  61. HamNasty on August 24th, 2007 11:49 am

    35- In regards to the easy schedule. Look how the Yankees got back into the race. Beating the same teams we are beating now. It is no coincidence that we hit an easy patch of teams and we jump 2 games up in the WC and 1 back of the division. We are doing what a good playoff team should do and that is beat the bad teams in series with a couple sweeps here and there.

    The Yankees schedule in Sept is a joke which has me worried they could pull off a 20-8 month which is why we need to take care of business against the weak teams and the Angels in particular.

  62. Dave on August 24th, 2007 11:54 am

    I’m not trying to argue that the M’s are perfectly built for the post-season. Obviously, this team has flaws, which we’ve covered extensively here.

    I’m simply saying that this team is better prepared for the postseason than it is for the regular season. Between its high contact offense and dominant bullpen, the team has a couple of weapons that can perform well enough to carry a team in October, assuming they get some breaks and the rotation doesn’t sink them.

    Basically, I think the teams strengths are emphasized in a short series and their weaknesses are diminished. In that sense, we’re built better for October than we are for April-September.

    That doesn’t mean go out and bet $100 on the M’s to win it all, but the playoffs are already a pretty big crapshoot, and any small advantage we can get, I’ll take.

  63. rsrobinson on August 24th, 2007 11:58 am

    Who knows how Griffey’s career would’ve gone if he’d been as diligent about stretching and fitness as Ichiro?

    Ichiro’s devotion to stretching and fitness goes beyond diligence into obsession. But I also think it will extend his career by years and why you can probably throw out those aging tables when it comes to predicting his decline.

    But Lopez does look like he could stand to take up some of Ichiro’s daily routine and maybe lay off the post-game buffet every once in awhile. Maybe it’s still too small a sample size, but when a guy’s performance drops off dramatically after 80 or 90 games for two years in a row then maybe conditioning should be looked at as a factor.

  64. benihana on August 24th, 2007 12:10 pm

    Derek Jeter once said something to the effect of “great teams make the playoffs, hot teams win it” I definitely agree with Dave’s description of the playoffs as a crapshoot. While I am as excited as anyone about this years team and our chances, we’ve still got plenty of hoops to jump through.

    On another note, I just recently was turned on to USSMariner, and I would like to say it is freakin sweet.

  65. eponymous coward on August 24th, 2007 12:23 pm

    The list of inferior teams getting trophies from 1995 on is pretty long (the two-time World Champion Florida Marlins say “Hi!”).

    Basically, I think the teams strengths are emphasized in a short series and their weaknesses are diminished.

    Bingo. Unless you have an extra-inning game that really blows out the bullpen, you automatically get a rested bullpen to work with every other game.

  66. G-Man on August 24th, 2007 12:37 pm

    Basically, I think the teams strengths are emphasized in a short series and their weaknesses are diminished.

    But chance can play a larger role in a short series.

  67. rsrobinson on August 24th, 2007 12:45 pm

    You only need to go back to last year’s St. Louis Cardinals to see a mediocre 83-win team that was playing lousy baseball down the stretch and is now flying the World Series championship banner. Anything can happen once you’re in.

  68. Carson on August 24th, 2007 12:56 pm

    55 (beckya57) – Jose Bautista does not play for the Mariners.

  69. Notor on August 24th, 2007 1:00 pm

    Does a great bullpen and great offense trump starting pitching in the playoffs? I honestly don’t know, it could or it couldn’t. I can’t think of a team in recent memory with the odd mix of very good/bad that the Mariners have at the moment.

    All of the other teams (Boston, LA, Cleveland) must be terrified of us by now, because we’re an enigma of winningness which they just can’t figure out. We’re the darkhorse of the postseason, and everyone is scared of the darkhorse because you just don’t know what it might do.

    For right now though, I’ll just be happy if we make it to the playoffs at all. What we do from there is another matter entirely.

  70. pygmalion on August 24th, 2007 1:01 pm

    66 You seem to think that those two claims are contradictory.

  71. HamNasty on August 24th, 2007 1:17 pm

    69- From my point of view the Tigers had a better pitching staff then the Cardinals and they sure didn’t win it. Besides the White Sox and the 1-2 punch of Randy Johnson/Curt Shilling I don’t remember any of the other teams since 2001 having just knock out pitching staffs that you had no shot against. The Marlins had a decent staff with Penny, Beckett, Willis but they were all young at the time and not the pitchers they are today.

    I think we have enough pitching to last us through as the Cardinals showed last year.

  72. benihana on August 24th, 2007 1:31 pm

    I think the beauty of our staff (and this is definitely over-emphasizing a limited number of occurences) is the potential.

    While it is unlikely we could go into the playoffs and get a Felix vs. Dice-k performance out of Felix, a Weaver vs. White Sox performance out of Weaver and a Batista vs. Angels (7/30) performance out of Batista in succession, it is POSSIBLE (though perhaps unlikely).

    Almost all of our starters have the potential to shut teams down if they have their stuff and some control.

    Call me an eternal optimist, but if we make the playoffs, who knows what our starting pitching could do?

  73. joser on August 24th, 2007 1:40 pm

    Jose Bautista does not play for the Mariners
    But he’d be a fine addition in the quest for the “all Jose” team

    we’re an enigma of winningness
    Wrapped in a mystery of hittingness
    Surrounding up in a riddle of pitchingness

    All rolled up and stuffed in Weaver’s bong.

    I don’t know about the actual teams, but the fans in other cities are getting a little freaked out by the M’s, if blog postings are anything to go by. Yankees fans, in particular, are rather spooked — probably because they don’t entirely understand how their team is winning so much either (or whether it will continue). But it’s pretty amusing to see they’re still haunted by that Bloomquist-out-by-3-feet-but-called-safe call, or the game where the Yankees went up 5 runs in the first only to lose 15-11. Of course neither team is playing now like they were then, but that just makes it scarier for everyone. Still, I can’t remember a time when I more enjoyed reading Yankee fan blogs.

  74. Notor on August 24th, 2007 1:41 pm

    I do kind of worry about Felix in the postseason. He’s way too emotional and it affects his abilities sometimes, and I can only imagine that getting worse in a high pressure situation like a playoff game.

  75. lailaihei on August 24th, 2007 1:44 pm

    74: I don’t. It seems like Felix plays up to the competition.

  76. scraps on August 24th, 2007 1:49 pm

    The White Sox had one hell of a defense when they won it all, too. I know you’re not saying the M’s are perfectly built for the postseason, Dave, but I worry that our lack of defense in the outfield could kill us in a short series as effectively as stringing together a few hits could lift us.

  77. Bearman on August 24th, 2007 2:02 pm

    Scraps I have an answer for that very worry you express and that’s Adam Jones.
    He was called up when he was to get into the feel of a pennant race and have time to adjust to the level of higher competition.

    He is eligible for the 25 man playoff roster and can should the OF of Ibanez/Ichiro/Guillen need to be shored up with a glove.
    Mostly Ibanez since over the last several games Jones have primarly gone in a Defenensive replacement for him and as a pinch runner.Jones is being groomed to eventually take over LF.

  78. HamNasty on August 24th, 2007 2:11 pm

    77- I have a rebuttal…
    John McLaren is not good.

  79. benihana on August 24th, 2007 2:41 pm

    HamNasty,

    Will McLaren be back next year?

  80. bergamot on August 24th, 2007 2:44 pm

    Results based analysis says: McLaren will be back next year.

  81. bigdad03 on August 24th, 2007 2:58 pm

    I don’t understand all the grief that Lopez or Vidro keep getting here. Lopez is a solid defender and comes up with his share of base hits. Vidro has been hitting well all year and even better since the break. Granted he may not have the power numbers that most good DH’s have, but if Ichiro would get off his butt and steal a few more bases to get in scoring position, all those ‘singles’ that Vidro hits would turn into runs.

    You know what the problem is? It’s attitude. Try taking a different approach when you watch the next few games and watch how many times those guys come through, rather than sit there and wait for the next mistake or missed opportunity so you can say “See, I told you”.

    If either one of them goes on a Sexson-like slump, then we can all cry. Lopez hits eighth for a reason you know.

    Think of this team like Jello; remove an ingredient (a player) and the whole thing changes. Maybe it won’t even be “Jello” anymore but rather a sloppy, liquid bucket of goo like Oakland.

    I can sense the anxiety of many of you and hopefully you realize where it’s coming from. It stems from your (our) deep desire to want to WILL this team to victory.

    Stay positive. We need your energy and enthusiasm focused on the ‘good’ rather than the bad or the ugly.

    Ask yourself this: What separates Tiger Woods, a champion, from the other top 80 golfers on the PGA?

    The skill level between 1 and 80 is very finite. What separates a champion is attitude and his mental approach to the game. You can’t quantify that with statistical data.

    THIS team is loaded with guys who want (and know how) to win and be CHAMPIONS. Watch and see.

  82. Dave on August 24th, 2007 3:00 pm

    You know, you’ve swung by and said the same thing in about 8 different threads. We get it – you think you have some special insight into these guys character. We all think you’re a little crazy. Next topic, please.

  83. rsrobinson on August 24th, 2007 3:06 pm

    Still, I can’t remember a time when I more enjoyed reading Yankee fan blogs.

    I think they’re hilarious. Yankees fans are major league manic depressives. Last week they were sure the Yankees were going to catch the Red Sox and were already talking World Series. This week they’re sure they’ll never catch the Red Sox and maybe not even the Mariners and Joe Torre should be fired. If the team wins a couple of games in a row they’ll be talking World Series again.

    And, yeah, they’re still obsessing about the Willie Bloomquist call. How strange is that?

  84. bergamot on August 24th, 2007 3:08 pm

    Re 81: In brief, the “grief” given Lopez is due to his declining offensive production. It’s still a topic of discussion whether this is primarily due to declining skills or poor coaching. Pretty much everyone appreciates his defensive skills, and think it’s much too early to give up on him.

    The “grief” about Vidro has been repeatedly documented in detail, so the lack of understanding you claim to have can be easily fixed by reviewing these discussions.

    As to your diagnosis of our “problem”: you couldn’t be more wrong. Well, ok, you could be more wrong if you believed that common opinions about Jose Vidro were due to infection by a virus that causes its victims to uncontrollably mock singles hitters with no speed and little power.

  85. bigdad03 on August 24th, 2007 3:17 pm

    Crazy man here. Thanks Dave for your insight. I thought personal attacks were against this blogs conduct policy.

    Next topic: Will the Angels be able to sustain their record at home? That seems to be a real key as to whether we can overcome them or not.

  86. Jeff Nye on August 24th, 2007 3:45 pm

    Oh, god.

    Vidro has no power because Ichiro doesn’t steal enough bases?

    I cannot possibly roll my eyes hard enough.

  87. Ralph Malph on August 24th, 2007 4:07 pm

    I think the conduct policy applies to posters. I believe the authors, the people who run this place, can do whatever they want. It’s their house and their rules, and if you don’t like them you can leave.

  88. gwangung on August 24th, 2007 4:33 pm

    I thought personal attacks were against this blogs conduct policy.

    I thought people had the common sense to actually read what’s been posted before.

    Don’t troll and behave.

  89. davepaisley on August 24th, 2007 4:51 pm

    81 aka bigdad03

    Nice platitudinous post. Are you really Bob Finnegan posting from retirement?

    As for:
    “Stay positive. We need your energy and enthusiasm focused on the ‘good’ rather than the bad or the ugly.”

    Wow. Do you want us to win one for the Gipper, too? It ain’t over till it’s over? Don’t stop believin’? Nobody, and I mean nobody, comes into our house and pushes us around?

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  90. davepaisley on August 24th, 2007 5:22 pm

    81 “Think of this team like Jello; remove an ingredient (a player) and the whole thing changes. Maybe it won’t even be “Jello” anymore but rather a sloppy, liquid bucket of goo like Oakland.”

    Or maybe:

    Think of your body like Jello; remove an ingredient (your brain) and the whole thing changes. Or maybe not.

  91. milquetoast on August 25th, 2007 3:27 pm

    We’ve talked about the sustainability factor of those performances, but here’s the thing – this hyper aggressive approach comes with significant variance, but that variance comes with a built in upside – over any period of weeks, the M’s can absolutely blister the ball. This is basically the blueprint the White Sox used to score their way to a World Series title – swing the bat a lot, get a lot of hits, have parade.

    Does this not contradict the recent post made about how there is no such thing as a “hot streak” for a player? Is there any reason to think the Ms, as a team, can blister the ball for any period of weeks any more than a single player can do that? You can find winning streaks/offensive streaks on any team during any part of the season due to random variance, why is this any more true for the Ms than any other team? Can we assign a predictive value to the team as a whole any more than we can do for a player? I don’t think so. The way I read it, it simply says that the Ms can get lucky and win. It reminds me of a friend with whom I once went to a casino, and he said: “you can win, but you have to be lucky.”

  92. DMZ on August 25th, 2007 3:32 pm

    It might be helpful to think of it this way: if you have two teams, both with on-base percentages of .350, team A all with singles and team B with a ton of walks, you’ll see team A’s offensive performance contains a lot more variance: if they face a team with a bad defense, or a pitch-to-contact starter, they’re likely to batter them to death with singles, while team B will have a lot more success putting batters on base against good defense/power pitchers, and less success against bad defense/contact pitchers because they’re not putting the ball in play as much.

    While they may both put the same number of baserunners on over a year, the A offense is almost certainly going to exhibit a lot more variance in how it does day-to-day, series-to-series, and even month-to-month than B does.

    In practice, of course, it’s a lot more complicated

  93. milquetoast on August 26th, 2007 4:28 am

    If you are saying that if you have two teams/players with a similar obp, then the one with the higher batting average to get there is probably going to score more runs, then I agree with you. Will team B really have “a lot more success” against the good defense/power pitchers? I don’t know, I still think team A with a higher avg but same obp would beat the same team more often than team B would. But Maybe not, I can see your argument. As for variance, maybe. I don’t know. I remember Jeff over at lookoutlanding forwarded his hypothesis that we were better against “good” pitchers who stayed in the zone, and sucked against crappy pitchers who had no control. It’s a fun hypothesis but I wouldn’t be convinced until a better study was made.

    The idea that the M’s were “built for October play” then suggest that other playoff teams have bad defense/contact pitchers. I don’t think a) that’s likely, b) that’s what Dave is saying here. The variance factor, then, is the idea that the Ms somehow have more “upside” than other teams. I remember a similar thread on The Book blog (here:http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/speaking_of_having_no_clue_as_to_the_efficacy_or_wisdom_of_the_sacrifice_at/)
    where Dave argued with others, Lichtman (and I with a short note) among them, he’d rather have Beltre than others with the same projection because he has greater variance in his results, and therefore though has the possibility to do worse than others, also has the same possibility to do better. (In that thread, by the way, Dave and Mitchel considered making a wager on who was right. Did Dave take up Mitchel’s offer? And who is winning that bet right now if he did?)

    I think Beltre, then, becomes a good metaphor for the team as a whole. And basically, what Dave is saying is that if the Ms get lucky, they will have a better chance of winning than if another team gets lucky. Okay. Maybe. But to think that we are “built for october” because we might get lucky is ridiculous. Any team can get lucky. If the Yankees get lucky, then forget about it. I’m saying, thank god the Ms are luckier than other teams this year.

    I hope this made sense. It’s 4 in the morning and I’m only up cos I just got dumped.

  94. milquetoast on August 26th, 2007 4:37 am

    Also, if you are going with this reasoning, then you are arguing that we should be leaving Sexson in the lineup, because his variance/upside is higher than Broussard’s. Then again maybe Sexson really is just a turd now.

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