The Template

Dave · December 4, 2009 at 8:04 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

With the Figgins signing basically done, the M’s have made their direction pretty clear, I think. Despite calls for a big power bat from sections of the fan base, the Mariners have gone the other way entirely, signing a guy who has hit nine home runs in the last three years combined. This continues the trend from a year ago, when they replaced Raul Ibanez with Endy Chavez, despite cries that left field was a position where you had to have a power hitter.

The Mariners clearly do not subscribe to the traditional model of needing power at the corners. They have a different template for building a team – the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals. That team is the model for what the organization hopes the 2010 Mariners can become.

They hit 87 home runs, fewer than every other National League team besides the Pirates. Their left fielder hit one home run. Their third baseman hit five (and had a .591 OPS). Jack Clark led the team with 22 home runs, Andy Van Slyke was second with 13, and two other players hit 10. Everyone else was in the single digits. In terms of home run power, they didn’t really have much. Or any.

But they led the league in singles, triples, walks, and stolen bases, all while hitting into the fewest amount of double plays. They were great at all the things that didn’t involve hitting for power, and they ended up leading the league in wOBA. Which, naturally, led to them leading the league in runs scored.

That speed paid off in the field as well, providing the best defensive team in the league. They held opponents to just a .272 batting average on balls in play, allowing a decent but unspectacular pitching staff to allow fewer runs than every other team in the NL besides the Dodgers (who bested them by a grand total of four runs). Having a bunch of elite defenders made life easy for John Tudor and Joaquin Andujar, who finished second and fourth in the league in innings pitched respectively. Danny Cox, the #3 starter, finished 9th.

Minimal power, a ton of speed, patient hitters who get on base, an elite defense, and a few starting pitchers who carry the load for the pitching staff. That formula added up to 101 wins and a trip to the World Series.

You do not have to hit for power to win baseball games. It helps, certainly, but good players are good players. Chone Figgins is a good player. Do not get wrapped up in worrying if the M’s have the type of team you’ve been told is the right kind. You can win with a whole bunch of slap hitters who get on base and run like the wind. The 1985 Cardinals did.


156 Responses to “The Template”

  1. wschroer on December 8th, 2009 4:40 pm

    Wow, this must be one kool-aid drinking bunch.

    “Oh no!!! He is a heretic!!! Make him go away!! It hurts my ears to listen to a different opinion.”

    Sorry, if eponyous, DMZ and Jeff Nye are not really representative of the community – I don’t know who is who here yet, but you three seem to have rather fragile egos when it comes to having your pet theories challenged. That is not a personal attack, just simply an observation of how personal your attacks on me became when I didn’t kowtow.

    You state that power in itself has no intrinsic value. You are right – power must take place during a game, and not during batting practice in order to have intrinsic value. Sorry I didn’t clarify that.

    And history does not tell us to all be Yankee fans, but to not learn from the Yankees about what a winning team needs to look like is foolhardy. Sure, the M’s cannot spend like the Yankees, so they have to be smarter with their money and be good enough to get to the post season. In a short series, anything can happen. This year the Nats led their series with Yankees 2-1, but were 3-15 with the Phillies.

  2. Jeff Nye on December 8th, 2009 5:01 pm

    I quite literally don’t know how to respond to that comment. I’ve tried three or four times and keep erasing them.

  3. Graham on December 8th, 2009 5:24 pm

    It’s not that you have a different opinion, wschroer. It’s that your opinion is idiotic, you are misinformed, and to top if off you’re being a smug little bastard about your complete lack of ability to understand baseball at any level beyond cliche.

  4. eponymous coward on December 8th, 2009 5:56 pm

    That is not a personal attack, just simply an observation of how personal your attacks on me became when I didn’t kowtow.

    No, what I posted isn’t a personal attack. What Graham posted was a personal attack.

    My comments have been about this particular thread – entitled “The Template” and the assumption that some version of the 1980’s Cardinals would be a great path to go down.

    Yes, it would be terrible if the Mariners of the 2010’s won 4 division titles, two pennants and a World Series during a decade, similar to the 1980’s Cardinals.

  5. wschroer on December 8th, 2009 6:02 pm

    My goodness, I have apparently touched a nerve here and the only reason I can surmise is because I simply do not agree with your premises nor your conclusions. My opinions are well thought out and supported by facts, and they might be wrong, but I guess your argument is that they are wrong because they are “idiotic”, not because the facts don’t support them.

    I am one smug little bastard who thought this was a discussion board, not the baseball thought police.

    And if there is a cliche that is appropriate for the shape of this thread, it would be “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes” since most opinions stated here seem to be mostly supported with that one, rare occasional fact.

  6. Jeff Nye on December 8th, 2009 6:11 pm

    Alright, I’ve had enough. Comments closed.