Dave · May 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Walk Rate:

Mariners, April: 10.6%
Mariners, May: 6.6%

Offense, April: .235/.316/.339, .297 wOBA
Offense, May: .228/.282/.329, .271 wOBA

Runs Per Game, April: 3.9
Runs Per Game, May: 3.2

If anyone tries to convince you that the M’s more aggressive approach at the plate in the last month has been anything other than counter-productive, they’re wrong. If they point to the team’s winning percentage, simply show them this.

Runs Allowed Per Game, April: 4.36
Runs Allowed Per Game, May: 2.90

Unless you think the team’s hacking has made the pitchers better, there’s no case here. The Mariners need to swing less, not more.


50 Responses to “Patience”

  1. dnc on May 26th, 2011 2:24 pm

    But we’re winning more games now!!!!!!!


    Great post Dave.

  2. The_Waco_Kid on May 26th, 2011 2:32 pm

    Yeah, and the hot bats right now–Cust, Olivo (!), and Ryan)–are still drawing lots of walks. You have to be aggressive at the right moments, but in general you have to be patient or else it leads to Chone Figgins 2011. It’s possible Cust adjusted from slightly too patient to just right, but overall patience is definitely good.

  3. SODOMOJO360 on May 26th, 2011 2:35 pm

    Could it also be that we’ve faced better pitching this month who have better control?

  4. Cantu Easley Winn on May 26th, 2011 2:38 pm

    I looked into the individual walk rate changes, per player, from April to May:

    Smoak -4.50%
    Ichiro 0.70%
    Kennedy -2.60%
    Saunders -2.70%
    J Wilson -3.40%
    Figgins -2.70%
    Olivo 6.70%
    Cust -6.50%
    Ryan -7.30%

  5. opiate82 on May 26th, 2011 2:48 pm

    This is getting out of the range of the numbers, but how does Eric Wedge go from “Swing More” to “Nevermind, swing less!” I understand it has to happen, but I’m just wondering if Wedge put himself between a rock and a hard place with his aggressive mantra?

  6. paracorto on May 26th, 2011 2:55 pm

    Perhaps having better hitters in the lineup would help too. It’s hard to elaborate complicate strategies when two thirds of your lineup is made by veteran refugèes.

  7. khardy on May 26th, 2011 2:55 pm

    Runs Per Game (in games not featuring SP Phil Coke), April: 3.4

  8. PackBob on May 26th, 2011 2:57 pm

    Is there merit to the idea that to take a step forward, you may have to take a step back? In other words, if what Wedge is trying to accomplish is better ABs, where the hitter swings at good pitches while letting bad ones go by, and he felt that too many good pitches were getting by without swings, then a more aggressive approach might, in the short term, make for better recognition of good pitches to hit and being able to pull the trigger.

    I agree with Dave that patience at the plate is a virtue. The truly good hitters seem to care less if they have two strikes – they are waiting for that pitch they can drive. They will also swing at the first pitch if that is the one.

    My hope would be that a short-term aggressivness eventually turns into better pitch recognition, and eventually a return to a higher walk rate. That may be hoping for too much.

  9. rick m on May 26th, 2011 3:10 pm

    Wedge should have addressed Brendan Ryan, and left everyone else out of it.

    Ryan 2011
    April OPS: .500 BB%: 8.9
    May OPS: .873 BB%: 1.6

  10. Carson on May 26th, 2011 3:39 pm

    Thanks for this. I was scratching my head at a certain beat writer’s analysis.

  11. Liam on May 26th, 2011 3:47 pm

    Thank you. It’s really that simple.

  12. make_dave_proud on May 26th, 2011 3:55 pm

    Is it possible the aggressiveness strategy is one designed to break the overall hitting cycle that plagued so much of the team at the beginning of the year? I’m not a professional hitter and don’t have an understanding if a “brute force” approach to hitting might help people snap out of a slump.

    I know the numbers don’t reflect it in the short-term, but maybe the aggressiveness approach is designed to break the cycle, albeit at a short-term cost in terms of wOBA, runs/game, etc. It’s not like the April numbers were world beaters, by any stretch.

  13. HamNasty on May 26th, 2011 4:03 pm

    A few more numbers for other curious readers like me. It all follows what Dave said.
    April O-Swing% 25.9 Z-Swing% 64.2 SwgStk% 8.1
    May O-Swing% 32.7 Z-Swing% 68.4 SwgStk% 9.3

    The contact rates remained very close between the months. It is not a pitcher thing as SODOMOJO360 asked about. All very unnerving numbers. My guess is the Mariners are swinging at around 8-12 more pitches out of the zone a game. This all could be Carlos Peguero’s fault as his O-Swing% is a crazy 58.3%

    Great post Dave!!

  14. firova2 on May 26th, 2011 4:22 pm

    A certain beat writer really got hosed by his own readers on this one. Perhaps there is hope for enlightenment after all.

  15. bookbook on May 26th, 2011 4:32 pm

    1. I agree with Dave,
    2. Wedge doesn’t have much to work with here.

  16. Chris_From_Bothell on May 26th, 2011 4:33 pm

    Good points about the offense, but at some point soon, the answer goes beyond “swing more”, “swing less”, “walk more”, or even “swing at the better pitches and foul off or lay off the bad ones”… it just becomes “get more talented players”.

    Wedge has been asked to make chicken salad out of chicken scratch. His efforts to keep guys in line and make them productive is admirable, but there’s limits to what some of them are going to know how to do.

    Also, if you’re responding directly to Baker, perhaps you could link to his article and respond directly. No need to be passive-aggressive. Especially when you’ve got a valid point.

    All the “a certain beat writer” stuff in the comments sounds like y’all are afraid he will spontaneously appear here in a puff of brimstone and sulfur.

  17. Carson on May 26th, 2011 4:38 pm

    Yes. Shaking in our boots.

  18. IwearMsHats on May 26th, 2011 4:52 pm

    I was hoping for a post like this. The whole time I read Baker’s premise I was thinking “Chone Figgins” and getting rage-ie.

    Wedge said that walks are the product of a good at-bat. DUH…a good at bat doesn’t constitute swinging at pitches out of the zone like you’re Chone Figgins.

  19. frankb. on May 26th, 2011 4:55 pm

    This is the kind of information and discussion that keeps me reading USSM. Thanks.

  20. Westside guy on May 26th, 2011 5:58 pm

    Reading Wedge’s quotes, it seems like they could be taken several ways. The way I read them (which differs, I think, from Geoff’s interpretation) was basically “We’ve got guys like Saunders that don’t seem to have good pitch recognition – him not swinging is driving me crazy. Then there’s Cust, who walks a lot but is also beginning to hit pitches in the zone… that’s good”.

    Basically – take a walk if it’s given, but when a fat meatball comes your way you’d better smack it!

  21. juneau_fan on May 26th, 2011 6:11 pm

    But, but, but…One of the ROOT announcers (Sorry, they’re all just a wall of bland white men who I can’t tell apart. So obviously it wasn’t Dave Sims.) has been telling me for the last couple of games that the hitters need to be more aggressive at the plate, and he’s been pulling out statements by great old hitters, and, and, and…

    So it must be true, right?

  22. circlechange32 on May 26th, 2011 7:15 pm

    I somewhat (not really) disagree. The M’s need to swing better, not necessarily less or more. If Wedge thinks that giving hitters the “green light” will make them better swingers, then I understand why he says what he says. I’m speaking in “long term” language, not just the results of a couple of weeks. Ultimately, the player on the M’s do need to be better at swinging the bat for them to be real contenders.

    If anything, I think the April we witnessed is a good sign, a sign that suggests the players on this team can be more patient in the long run. That’s giving the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt, and we’ll see if that assumption is wise in time, but it’s the best we can do right now given only 2 months of evidence.

  23. Typical Idiot Fan on May 26th, 2011 8:23 pm

    14.6% of the Mariners total walks this season belong to Milton Bradley and Ryan Langerhans, neither of which are on the main club anymore. Their walk rates were 11.3% and 17.2% respectively. They’ve been replaced with 2% Carlos Peguero and 0% Mike Wilson.

    Certainly we’ve seen some guys’ rates decline. Someone already mentioned Ryan and Smoak’s is down from 15.7% in April to 11.2% in May. But I think a rather large chunk of our walk rate disappearing is losing two of our most patient hitters and replacing them with guys who never were going to be even without Wedge aggressiveness training.

  24. MrZDevotee on May 26th, 2011 8:24 pm

    I think Wedge was just trying to shake things up, and per Dave’s analysis, it didn’t work.

    Being patient wasn’t working either… So the assumption was why not try NOT being patient… But then THAT’s not the answer, either… So now we can try… Uh… We can try… Free agency?

    And I definitely agree that Saunders was a focus of the “be aggressive” mantra… He’s not a very good 2 strike hitter (like any other strikes), and he was watching center cut fastballs go by for the 1st strike, putting him behind the count before he even considered trying to hit something.

    I think the fact that we (or Wedge) have to wonder what the best approach is for these guys says it all, really. We need better hitters– period. Guys who ALREADY have an idea of how to recognize a pitch they like and then can smack it.

    Hopefully, someday, we’ll be able to field an offense that isn’t so dependent on “maximizing mediocrity”?

  25. Westside guy on May 26th, 2011 9:37 pm

    Hey, if you want an aggressive hitter… I hear the Rockies just DFA’ed J-Lo.

  26. CCW on May 26th, 2011 9:43 pm

    I like this comment from above: Runs Per Game (in games not featuring SP Phil Coke), April: 3.4.

    It’s comparing one month to another, people, in which the M’s faced different teams in different stadiums and in which their roster changed. I would draw my conclusions with a grain of salt.

  27. MrZDevotee on May 26th, 2011 9:54 pm

    On the former Mariner watch…

    Russell Branyan designated for assignment by Diamondbacks, signed by Angels
    Jose Lopez (as Westy mentioned) designated for assignment (Colorado)
    Josh Wilson designated for assignment (Arizona), claimed by Brewers

    There’s 1/3 of last year’s “offense” (sic) bouncing all over the place… Whoa… Hold on… Rough ride…

  28. Auggeydog on May 26th, 2011 10:33 pm

    Can Saunders be sent down to Tacoma to hopefully get some confidence back? Not sure of the options and all. It would be nice to see him hit even in the mid .200’s, but he is totally lost. If not maybe fake an injury and send him down for about 2 weeks of rehab, it would be in the teams best interest.

  29. msfanmike on May 26th, 2011 11:00 pm

    The team does have the option to send Saunders to AAA. It appears that Saunders is only on the Major League Roster currently because they need someone to play CF as Guti works his way back into the fold full time. Then again, Saunders might be needed to play LF in the late innings too (after Guti is back) because the teams defensive options with Wilson and Peguero aren’t exactly outstanding. Something will have to give with Saunders though – and soon I would imagine. He has been awful with the stick and only gotten worse since his original callup. The team knows it. Their hands are currently tied.

  30. Westside guy on May 26th, 2011 11:57 pm

    What they do with Saunders short term probably is linked to how they view the team this year. If they felt they were really going to be competitive, I’d think they wouldn’t be “solving” the left field problem with a Wilson/Peguero platoon, nor with Saunders. But if they’re not going to be competitive, they may figure (more or less) as if it’s worth giving Saunders enough rope to hang himself this year – they can live, if they have to, with Saunders being a replacement level player. If he still sucks offensively as we get towards the end of the season, then Z knows he needs to find a decent left fielder for 2012 when they actually have a chance to make a run at the division.

    Yup, I freely admit it’s total speculation on my part.

  31. G-Man on May 27th, 2011 12:00 am

    The aforementioned beat writer has just posted a rebuttal:

  32. kenshabby on May 27th, 2011 12:03 am

    I just finished pouring over the ghastly offensive stats the M’s have accrued this season. Already squeamish, I made the mistake of examining the defensive stats. I may have to call in sick tomorrow.

  33. Jamison_M on May 27th, 2011 12:11 am

    The Mariners DO need to be more aggressive at the plate… they just need to stop sucking at it.

    Whenever the Mariners decide to suck it up and risk it with Adam Kennedy (and maybe platoon Jack Wilson) at third and DFA Choke Figlet, our offense will undergo a needed upgrade… I really hope little Cho-nee can step it up and make all of us eat our words about how awful he has become. I’m not holding my breath. Our pitching needs to stay on track and we NEED a bat at the trade deadline if we’re to have any shot down the stretch. I know, why make a trade in rebuilding mode and risk the future, I get it. But, this organization needs to send the message to its fans (and members for that matter) that they really care about winning – in the future and NOW.

    Go Mariners!!!

  34. Kris on May 27th, 2011 12:25 am

    RE former Mariners watch: my favorite box score so far this season was from a recent Brewers @ Rockies match-up in which both Yuni and J-Lo went o-fer and had an error. Old times.

  35. Leroy Stanton on May 27th, 2011 7:28 am

    Pre-Detroit (8-15): .226/.309/.320/.630
    Post-Detroit (13-10): .229/.289/.326/.615

  36. Hammy57 on May 27th, 2011 7:39 am

    The Mariners DO need to be more aggressive at the plate… they just need to stop sucking at it.

    Exactly. Anyone that tells you a walk is as good as a hit is an idiot.

  37. Leroy Stanton on May 27th, 2011 7:42 am

    Pre-Detroit: 4.43 ERA
    Post-Detroit: 2.59 ERA

  38. Hammy57 on May 27th, 2011 7:47 am

    Wedge isn’t telling the team to go up to the plate and take Vlad Guerrero hacks at every single pitch no matter where it is. He’s also not saying to go up to the plate looking for a walk. He is saying if the pitch is in your zone then take a good hack at it. Don’t be like Michael Saunders and watch two pitches for strikes because you are trying to be a “patient” hitter and then swing at a ball in the dirt for strike three. He is basically telling the team to not bat like Figgins or Saunders are. A great hitter is neither aggressive or patient. Having the ability to recognize pitches and swing at pitches in your zone is what separates hitters.

  39. make_dave_proud on May 27th, 2011 8:40 am

    Just read Baker’s reply to Dave’s post. One thing is patently clear — it’s easy to pick statistics to support your argument, depending on when/where you draw the lines.

  40. Leroy Stanton on May 27th, 2011 9:02 am

    Graphs of the Mariners’ offense and pitching(+defense).

  41. sgreen13 on May 27th, 2011 9:31 am

    But, this organization needs to send the message to its fans (and members for that matter) that they really care about winning – in the future and NOW.

    It’s this kind of thinking that is partially to blame for our struggles. I believe that ESPN just did an article that had Bavasi quoted as saying that same thing, and I for one would have sacrificed some of those years (not that they weren’t wasted anyhow) for the Cabrera, Choo years now.

    We have to accept the fact that this team is STILL rebuilding. They are comptetive due to luck and circumstance. If the Rangers didn’t have injuries we’d be much further out of the picture. We have been different and certainly competitive this year, and I appreciate that, but I’m not going to watch as we send what little future we have managed to stock up on in our farm to a team for an aging bat.

    It’s been done too many times by this organization. I’m not saying we should accept constant losing, but we are not working with unlimited payroll either. We cannot buy our way out of crappy situations, nor are we a destination for A type players at the moment. But if we build right we can sustain success, or competitiveness and become more attractive to those missing pieces as free agents.

    We just need to have some acceptance for the process, not necessarily the pre-mature results.

  42. Westside guy on May 27th, 2011 10:02 am

    Anyone that tells you a walk is as good as a hit is an idiot.

    Here is some light reading for people that think walks aren’t worth much. Because, let’s face it – when you say a walk isn’t as good as a hit, it’s pretty obvious from the context (meaning what I’ve seen in several USS Mariner game threads) you’re generally using it as a way of implying that the walk someone just took was worthless.

    Trading Walks for Hits, by Joe Posnanski

    How Runs are Really Created, by Tom Tango

    No, a walk isn’t worth as much as a hit – but it still has significant value.

  43. MrZDevotee on May 27th, 2011 10:53 am

    It’s hard to make fail-proof statements in baseball (part of the beauty of the game)… Saying anyone who thinks a walk is as good as a hit is an idiot is simply trying to fit a blanket statement where one won’t fit. (The blanket’s too small– might cover Figgins, but not all at bats where walks or hits are the outcome.)

    > A leadoff walk is every bit as good as a hit (assuming a single). So you’re simply wrong in that circumstance. And potentially BETTER than a hit (see point 3)

    > A bases loaded walk is as good as a hit. Plainly true. And better than a Sac Fly, which might not even be a Sac Fly if the guy on 3rd has no speed. Meaning a walk is the 2nd best outcome with the bases loaded, after an extra base hit.

    > A walk is sometimes BETTER than a hit, if you consider the number of pitches a pitcher throws to create a walk versus sometimes 1 or 2 pitches it takes to give up a single.

    (Against many teams you’ll face in the Majors, getting the starting pitcher OUT of the game before the 7th inning is a big factor in winning games, because many mid innings relievers are guys who couldn’t make the cut as 1 of the 5 starters– guys like CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee aren’t gonna get knocked out of a game in most cases by great hitting, and if you don’t get deep into their pitch counts, they’ll be there till the 9th inning… And you’ll lose).

    But then again, if I’m honest, there have been plenty of times in my life when I’ve been an idiot (so even your blanket statement has some truth to it– depending on the day of the week).

  44. make_dave_proud on May 27th, 2011 11:08 am

    A walk certainly holds value, and in certain cases it may be a better outcome than a batter who makes contact and puts the ball in play. But let’s not kid ourselves, we’re not going to win strictly with walks — we need more productive hitting in all facets.

    At this stage, is anyone ready to say they’d rather see improvement in our walk capacity over our hitting capacity?

  45. NorthofWrigleyField on May 27th, 2011 12:03 pm

    I’ll take any improvement at this point.

    It would certainly be easier to get crap offensive players to stop swinging at crap so damn much, versus getting them to magically become more capable of producing when they do swing.

    Aggression for aggression’s sake costs the team. Common sense proves it… and thanks to Dave, we have numbers to back it up.

  46. ck on May 27th, 2011 12:44 pm

    M’s recent winning is wonderful. Watching recent Figgins and Saunders AB’s is horrible. I wish a coach would tell them the quote from Yogi Berra, when asked about hitting, he said, “…Son, swing at the strikes.”

  47. Bremerton guy on May 27th, 2011 4:47 pm

    A bases loaded walk is as good as a hit. Plainly true.

    Not true. Normally a base hit with the bases loaded scores two.

  48. MrZDevotee on May 27th, 2011 5:46 pm

    No game thread up yet for the Yankees game, but can’t help but be excited that L-Rod is batting 2nd and playing 3B…

    Figgins has the night off.


  49. philosofool on May 28th, 2011 2:09 pm

    Any one who tells you that your offense improves by trading walks for balls in play is wrong. They might not be dumb, but they are wrong.

  50. NorthofWrigleyField on May 28th, 2011 10:47 pm

    I suggest that a walk with the bases loaded is actually better than a ball in play, since a bases loaded walk scores a run 100% of the time, regardless of the number of outs.

    Nobody is trying to say a walk is worth as much as a single, but it’s not worth the half as much OPS credits it.

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