Second Place Seattle Mariners Travel to First Place Cleveland Indians
|MARINERS (20-21)||ΔMs||INDIANS (22-17)||EDGE|
|HITTING (wOBA*)||-7.0 (21st)||2.9||28.3 (2nd)||Indians|
|FIELDING (RBBIP)||7.9 (8th)||-1.8||8.9 (7th)||Indians|
|ROTATION (xRA)||13.6 (7th)||3.4||3.0 (12th)||Mariners|
|BULLPEN (xRA)||4.4 (11th)||2.3||-2.2 (21st)||Mariners|
|OVERALL (RAA)||19.0 (10th)||6.9||38.1 (3rd)||INDIANS|
A team’s record in one-run games is a number worth paying attention to. Vastly outperforming .500 in that regard is often a fluke, but sometimes can be sustained with an especially dominant bullpen staff. Seeing a team that’s run itself well to the positive or negative side of even on those games can be a good hint that the team may not be as good or as bad as their overall record indicates.
The Yankees entered the series against the Mariners with a 7-2 record in one-run games. Additionally, the Yankees had had the benefit of playing the incredibly underwhelming Blue Jays seven times, during which they racked up a 6-1 record. Still — and even though the above ratings spit out a comparison that favored the Mariners before the series started — it’s hard not to have watched those past three games and wondered exactly how it is that the Yankees accrued so many wins this early into 2013. They don’t look particularly formidable.
In contrast, I think the Indians are a mixed bag. On one hand, they’re perhaps ripe for a similar regression in their record as it’s been bolstered by a very high 10-3 record in one-run games. The Indians’ pen has run themselves a very good ERA so far, but it’s also 0.75 better than their xFIP and much better than their xRA is saying they’ve independently performed.
On the other, their crop of position players have been excellent of late and their overall record is fair given the entire team performance.
|Batter||PA||P/PA||Slash line||nBB||K (sw)||1B/2B/3B/HR||Sw-||Ct+||Qual+|
|M Saunders*||49||3.9||.238/.367/.452||7||13 (10)||5 / 3 / 0 / 2||87||98||109|
|K Seager*||48||4.2||.250/.333/.450||6||9 (8)||6 / 2 / 0 / 2||90||103||108|
|K Morales^||42||3.6||.270/.357/.432||5||8 (7)||6 / 3 / 0 / 1||92||94||94|
|M Morse||41||3.6||.297/.381/.432||4||10 (7)||8 / 2 / 0 / 1||107||89||95|
|D Ackley*||39||4.3||.206/.308/.324||5||10 (3)||5 / 1 / 0 / 1||69||112||123|
|J Smoak^||30||4.4||.261/.433/.304||7||7 (7)||5 / 1 / 0 / 0||85||101||132|
|J Montero||29||3.6||.185/.241/.296||2||5 (5)||4 / 0 / 0 / 1||104||106||130|
|J Bay||29||4.2||.160/.276/.440||4||9 (9)||1 / 1 / 0 / 2||92||77||102|
|B Ryan||27||3.1||.148/.148/.148||0||4 (4)||4 / 0 / 0 / 0||132||106||81|
|R Ibanez*||24||3.0||.348/.375/1.000||1||5 (5)||2 / 1 / 1 / 4||120||79||109|
|R Andino||20||3.6||.118/.250/.118||3||5 (2)||2 / 0 / 0 / 0||79||102||94|
Look at all the walks. I mentioned recently how the Mariner hitters actually one of baseball highest walk rates of late and that’s still true. And that’s borne out by their counter intuitive passivity at the plate. Remember all the outcry over the (out of context) Eric Wedge quote about being aggressive? Many people took that to mean that Wedge was advocating hack hack hack.
That never seemed true in the full context of Wedge’s statement, but even if it were true it appears that the current crop of Mariner hitters aren’t listening to him. Over the past fortnight, the Mariners have baseball’s third-lowest swing rate on pitches outside the strike zone and the fourth-lowest swing rate on pitches inside the zone as well. The Mariners simply aren’t swinging very often.
That’s true over the whole season as well. Breaking it down, here’s how the Mariners rank after factoring out intentional balls (I’m not giving hitters credit for abstaining from those):
Swing rate in the strike zone: Lowest
Swing rate outside strike zone: 4th lowest
Swing rate on all pitches: 4th lowest
|Batter||PA||P/PA||Slash line||nBB||SO (sw)||1B/2B/3B/HR||Sw-||Ct+||Qual+|
|A Cabrera^||59||3.9||.259/.322/.519||5||12 (7)||5 / 6 / 1 / 2||100||102||127|
|J Kipnis*||59||4.2||.302/.356/.755||5||11 (6)||4 / 5 / 2 / 5||84||109||132|
|N Swisher^||54||3.7||.286/.352/.633||5||13 (8)||6 / 3 / 1 / 4||93||98||156|
|M Brantley*||52||3.4||.306/.340/.327||2||5 (3)||14 / 1 / 0 / 0||90||117||66|
|M Reynolds||52||4.4||.220/.365/.488||10||15 (13)||4 / 2 / 0 / 3||104||87||105|
|C Santana^||51||4.4||.186/.358/.372||8||11 (7)||4 / 2 / 0 / 2||87||104||80|
|D Stubbs||49||3.3||.271/.286/.396||1||14 (11)||7 / 6 / 0 / 0||102||94||125|
|R Raburn||33||3.5||.172/.273/.241||4||8 (6)||3 / 2 / 0 / 0||111||87||104|
|L Chisenhall*||24||4.2||.182/.292/.182||2||4 (4)||4 / 0 / 0 / 0||125||106||114|
|M Bourn*||22||4.2||.158/.273/.158||3||7 (5)||3 / 0 / 0 / 0||87||95||85|
|M Aviles||21||3.9||.316/.381/.526||2||1 (1)||4 / 1 / 0 / 1||108||120||112|
One of the three teams with a lower season swing rate than the Mariners is the Indians. The difference is that they hit for power — about 50 more points worth — and therefore are much much better at the whole offense thing.
|INFIELD||4.7 (11th)||-0.4||6.3 (8th)||Indians|
|OUTFIELD||3.2 (12th)||-1.4||2.7 (14th)||Mariners|
|RBBIP||0.297 (9th)||+.002||0.296 (7th)||Indians|
|OVERALL||7.9 (8th)||-1.8||8.9 (7th)||INDIANS|
17 MAY 16:05 – UBALDO JIMENEZ vs BRANDON MAURER
Ubaldo Jimenez (figuratively) collapsed last season. It was part of a longer trend of a slide from legitimately good to barely above average to ruh-rohs huge drop in fastball speed to just terrible.
The fastball has not returned. It’s actually even slower now. But importantly for Ubaldo, the ground balls have returned. He was consistently near 50% for his career until 2012 when that fell to the high-30s, a very troubling development. But they’re back at and slightly above 50% so far this year.
Brandon Maurer is still vulnerable to left-handed hitters. The Indians are a good hitting team and they can completely stack their lineup with hitters from the left side. And Mark Reynolds. I don’t have high hopes for this one y’all.
18 MAY 10:05 – ZACH MCALLISTER vs JOE SAUNDERS*
Zach McAllister was a third round pick of the Yankees back in 2006. He ended up in Cleveland in 2010 as a PTBNL for the Indians who traded Austin Kearns to the Yankees. Austin Kearns posted a .668 OPS for the Yankees, ending up roughly as a replacement level player. Now McAllister isn’t (yet) a superb pitcher by any means, but he’s a competent starter who the Indians will wring several years of cheap labor out of.
Joe Saunders currently has four starts at Safeco and four starts away from Safeco. That sample size is still in diapers it’s so small, but the results have been… well…
HOME: 108 BF, 15 K, 6 nBB, 1HR, 28.2 IP, 0.94 ERA
ROAD: 100 BF, 5 K, 12 nBB, 5 HR, 18.2 IP, 12.54 ERA
Eep. A positive light is that Saunders’ left-handedness could help dampen some of the Indians’ left-handed prowess. Oh, no, they’ve hit better off left-handers. Nevermind!
19 MAY 10:05 – JUSTIN MASTERSON vs FELIX HERNANDEZ
Like Jimenez above, Masterson is also showing the promise of a rebound after a disappointing 2012 season. Masterson’s improvement looks less certain though because it’s entirely in strikeouts. Now, strikeouts are typically the best measure to improve and also a stable metric so it may seem odd to call it a fluke, but what would worry about Masterson’s performance were I an Indians fan, is that Masterson’s contact rate, his strike rate, his swinging strike rate, they’re all in line with his previous years.
In fact, the only statistical departure I can detect is that hitters are swinging less often on pitches inside the strike zone. That certainly explains a rise in strikeout rate, but it doesn’t point to something sustainable on Masterson’s part.
20 MAY 9:05 – SCOTT KAZMIR* vs HISASHI IWAKUMA
Wow, Scott Kazmir?
Yep, Scott Kazmir. He might finally be healthy now, getting his fastball up in the low-90s, where it was in his Devil Ray days.
|B Beavan||42||97||4||96||7 (5)||87||2||124||0.2|
|C Capps||40||105||1||92||13 (10)||69||3||97||0.5|
|H Noesi||39||102||2||107||6 (4)||51||0||128||0.3|
|O Perez*||36||101||5||77||16 (13)||135||1||88||0.3|
|Y Medina||36||99||2||102||11 (6)||127||0||59||0.3|
|T Wilhelmsen||35||108||1||97||8 (6)||130||0||109||1.0|
|C Furbush*||22||101||2||81||8 (6)||82||1||117||1.1|
If instead of xRA you prefer something like xFIP, take heart that by that measurement the Mariners have baseball’s best relief corps. By ERA, it’s nearly the Indians, but that’s largely resting on an unsustainably low home run rate.
|B Shaw||49||94||7||113||8 (4)||99||0||83||0.8|
|C Allen||40||95||2||94||14 (11)||118||1||75||1.0|
|M Albers||38||88||7||94||7 (5)||150||0||76||0.4|
|C Perez||36||106||5||114||9 (4)||133||0||94||3.1|
|J Smith||33||97||4||99||9 (6)||124||0||97||1.7|
|N Hagadone*||31||94||8||101||8 (5)||75||0||119||1.1|