Guys, guys — four balls gets you to first base

DMZ · March 12, 2009 at 3:03 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I know, it’s spring training. But the M’s lost to Texas today and whiffed six times while taking one walk.

They’re not the highest strikeout team, but they’re the lowest walk team (Colorado took five today). They take one walk for every four times they K. The Reds, who as I write this lead baseball in spring training strikeouts, are at 1:2.5.

Strikeouts aren’t so much worse than other outs that they alone should be cause for concern. But they’re just hacking and missing so far this spring training, and I’m starting to get a little concerned about the approach.


19 Responses to “Guys, guys — four balls gets you to first base”

  1. TomTuttle on March 12th, 2009 3:18 pm

    Same old, same old.

    So much for this “new day, new way” crap.

    Somebody forward this stat to Wakamatsu, please:

    2008 total base on balls:
    Seattle: 417
    Anaheim: 481
    CHICAGO (AL): 540
    TAMPA BAY: 626
    BOSTON: 646


  2. CMC_Stags on March 12th, 2009 3:35 pm

    The M’s have the smallest OBP versus AVG spread in Spring Training at .041. The highest is the Padres at .096 while the average is .070.

    The M’s are T2nd in SOs per PA (using BA + BB for PAs) at 21% just behind the Florida Marlin’s 22% and ahead of Boston’s 20%. The flip side is that the Marlin’s OBP spread is .056 and the Red Sox is .074. The Tigers are also at 21% for SO rate, but are 3rd in OBP spread at .088.

    Basically it’s amazing to me that the M’s can strike out so much while walking so little. You basically have to have a large number of free swingers without high contact rate to get that to happen. Guys who take more pitchs would walk at least a bit more. Free swingers who have decent contact rates would have low BB and SO totals.

    And you can’t even blame the WBC for it. Ichiro, Kenji, Jose Lopez, and Endy Chavez aren’t likely to move the needle too much. At least Ichiro doesn’t strike out so much to go with his no walks.

    Team OBP-AVG SO/(AB+BB)
    SEA .041 21.1%
    OAK .070 16.3%
    TEX .071 19.0%
    LAA .093 13.7%

    Is there a more common term for OBP-AVG? Is there a such a thing as ISO OBP?

  3. ThundaPC on March 12th, 2009 3:45 pm

    Yea, but how much of that total is from playing guys who have no shot of making the team?

    Not to say that the results should be ignored but I think the fact that they have yet to put out a consistent lineup due to some players being in the WBC and some players coming back from injury being brought along very slowly makes it difficult to judge what the lineup is going to actually do going forward.

  4. Mike Snow on March 12th, 2009 3:55 pm

    Not to say that the results should be ignored but I think the fact that they have yet to put out a consistent lineup due to some players being in the WBC

    Right, because with Johjima, Lopez, Chavez, and Ichiro, we would be seeing a lot more walks.

  5. joser on March 12th, 2009 3:57 pm

    So much for this “new day, new way” crap.

    Right, because a couple of weeks with a new coaching staff is going to completely overcome everything these guys have learned over their lives so far.

    So much for the “more intelligent posts on USSM this year” crap (and bonus points for using all caps).

  6. gag harbor on March 12th, 2009 4:20 pm

    Just a bunch of hacking going on by long shots that hope to have a breakout spring. The won’t be remembered for walks as much as an extra base hit or two. I’ll be more concerned if this is what it looks like after first week of season and Wak is not exploding in the dugout.

  7. DMZ on March 12th, 2009 4:24 pm

    Now, that’s all absolutely true. Wilson’s got 12K, Cedeno 11, LaHair 9 (but 8 walks), Tui has 6.

    Chris Shelton, who might make the team, has five walks and a K.

    My point is larger than the particular players, though. All the other teams are playing scrubs and guys who won’t make the roster. Why are the M’s so far ahead of all the rest in their hackiness? Is it a reflection of the org (again)?

  8. CMC_Stags on March 12th, 2009 4:25 pm

    Yea, but how much of that total is from playing guys who have no shot of making the team?

    You’re right. We should take out Shelton, 5 walks, as he’s probably not going to make the team out of Spring Training… LaHair’s not making it either so take out his 3 walks too. That drops the team from 25 walks to 17.

    The only players for the M’s with more than one walk so far this pre-season:

    Shelton – 5 BB, 1 SO
    LaHair – 3 BB, 9 SO
    Clement – 2 BB, 4 SO
    Griffey – 2 BB, 1 SO
    Gutierrez – 2 BB, 5 SO

  9. ThundaPC on March 12th, 2009 4:33 pm

    To clarify a little bit my point was because players are missing due to the WBC in addition to players being brought along more slowly due to prior injuries (Beltre, Griffey, Sweeney, and Betancourt) and thus aren’t in the lineup regularly makes it difficult to get a clear view on what this lineup is capable of.

    I’m paying more attention to the process in which Wakamatsu is running this Spring Training as opposed to the stats the team as a whole have generated. We’ve learned that Yuni hasn’t improved his plate discipline at all and Wak isn’t going to tolerate it much longer. The clock is also ticking for Jeff Clement who is seeing is playing time reduced due to players like Griffey and Sweeney being brought in.

    Pitching, specifically the bullpen, concerns me more than whether a spotty lineup can draw walks. The complete lineup is going to have trouble scoring runs anyhow. Wakamatsu wants to see someone run away with the closer’s job and so far, several favorites have been having rough outings aside from Messenger and Aardsma. Wak keeps saying that there’s plenty of time so we’ll see what happens.

    Back to the offense. If it’s really a concern I don’t think it can be properly addressed until they can get a more complete lineup in a week or two (Wak’s Phase 3 of Spring Training). I’d be more encourage that the manager appears to be running a tight ship. He hasn’t really pulled any punches in regards to lackluster performances.

    I’m sort of typing this reply as responses come in. Good question, DMZ, about why M’s still hack more than the rest of baseball despite other teams playing scrubs. That could very well be a layover from the previous org.

    Or, it could be happening if Wak’s not particularly stressing plate discipling at the moment and is just seeing what the players he has do at the plate. As mentioned earlier, he’s definately not high on Yuni’s approach but seems like he’s letting him work it out himself.

    Just thinking out loud here.

  10. Slurve on March 12th, 2009 4:34 pm

    Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa… Let me get this straight… FOUR balls [gets] me a free base?!?!?!

    Strike [outs] aren’t a concern unless [your] hitters aren’t getting on base to make up for it.

  11. ThundaPC on March 12th, 2009 4:53 pm

    Actually, I was just looking into something deeper that might change a few things, at least in regards to today’s game.

    Mariners struck out six times today, but only two of those were swinging strikeouts (Wlad, Tui). Woodward and LaHair were caught looking while Cedeno saw two pitches pass for strike three.

    Don’t know if there’s any available data for pitch counts in spring training so I’m not sure so I’m not sure how well (or how little) they were trying to work the count.

  12. Kunkoh on March 12th, 2009 5:09 pm

    I think it’s a reflection of the organization; or rather how the organization was and hopefully will no longer be. Almost all of the guys in the team/minors were brought in by the previous regime, and they seemed to bring in/up a lot of free swingers. Hopefully this is something that Z & Co are working to change; but it will take time.

  13. Breadbaker on March 12th, 2009 5:48 pm

    Of the group of Branyan, Chavez, Gutierrez and Griffey, i.e., the new regulars replacing Raul and the Three Empty Slots* (DH, 1B, CF), only Griffey walks a significant amount.

    *As Dave Barry would say, a great name for a rock band.

  14. aaron c. on March 12th, 2009 6:03 pm

    Of the group of Branyan, Chavez, Gutierrez and Griffey, i.e., the new regulars replacing Raul and the Three Empty Slots* (DH, 1B, CF), only Griffey walks a significant amount.

    Griffey-Career BB% : 11.7%
    Branyan-Career BB% : 12.3%

    Griffey-2006/2007/2008 BB% : 12.4%/14.7%/12.6%
    Branyan-2006/2007/2008 BB% : 8.4%/13.9%/13.7%

  15. gwangung on March 12th, 2009 8:10 pm

    Kunkoh got it exactly. I thought it was clear that a lot of this was innate approach, and that four weeks of a new philosophy isn’t going to change that. Maybe not even a YEAR of a new philosophy is going to change that and we won’t see much change until we get a new set of players.

  16. philosofool on March 12th, 2009 9:52 pm

    Worthlessly small sample sizes, guys.

    We all know it. It’s impossible not to read too much into spring training. You want info about how many times these guys are going to walk and strike out this season? Take a look at their Marcel projections, their CHONE projections, or something like that. Indeed, last year’s BB% is going to tell you a lot more than the last three weeks.

    Also, let’s not pretend like the fact that this club isn’t going to walk much is news. These guys don’t walk much. We already knew that. Tiny spring training sample sizes are simply providing what little evidence they can of something we already knew. Pretending like it’s easy to walk is just pretending. Batters don’t start walking a bunch because you say “walk.”

  17. DaveValleDrinkNight on March 13th, 2009 12:53 am

    If you’re a lefty and can run like ICHIRO! but also make contact like ICHIRO!, then you get to swing at any pitch you want to.

    If not, listen to a marginal hitter, like, let’s say Ted Williams,


  18. Oolon on March 13th, 2009 7:33 am

    I’ve been going to games in Everett for the past 5 or 6 years and one of the things I’ve seen every year is that our players are a bunch of free swingers. Everett is often at the top of the team strike out list and towards the bottom of team walks.

    While Low-A players probably are trying to impress with their hitting and many come from the Caribbean where the saying is that you “don’t walk your way off the island” – swinging and missing seemed to be a special talent of our young players – even more so than our opponents. The Aquasox aren’t on-base machines and probably this was known when they were drafted. I always assumed that it was something that was built into our scouting and draft strategy somehow – “pick the aggressive hitter not the guy that passively takes walks”.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the draft this year (hopefully with a new scouting approach) will bring a different style player to our low minors to work their way up to the Big Club.

    On a side note, I remember Pedro Grifol (I think it was Pedro) talking about this at the Library session and saying something like, “You can’t easily change a players total approach at the plate – if they’ve had a certain approach for 20 years that’s been successful, they’ll probably stick with it.” Or something to that effect. It makes sense.

  19. rcbuss on March 13th, 2009 9:33 am

    You can’t walk with four balls!

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.