The Cleveland Takeaway

Dave · May 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Over the last four games, the Mariners launched eight home runs, getting two each from Smoak and Ibanez and one home run from Seager, Morales, Ryan (!), and Chavez (!!!).

Over the last four games, the Mariners scored a grand total of 15 runs, and went 0-4.

The Mariners entire plan to turn the team around in 2013 revolved around “hit more dingers”. They’ve succeeded in that goal, as with 53 home runs, they are now 6th in the majors in total home runs hit. They are 25th in the majors in runs scored, and are 20-25, on pace to win 72 games. Trading pitching, defense, and on base percentage for home runs has made them no better.

There is more to winning baseball than hitting home runs.

Comments

35 Responses to “The Cleveland Takeaway”

  1. Tim B. on May 20th, 2013 2:00 pm

    Heresy!

    To some, at any rate.

  2. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2013 2:13 pm

    Oh yeah, well Cleveland won two games in extra innings with home runs, so obviously there is value in dingers!

    Kidding. Seriously, apart from bad pitching, sloppy defense, and bad decisions (did I miss anything?), it also stung seeing Swisher and Bourn in Indians uniforms, knowing that they were affordable and right there for the taking, and for little more than the price Jack was willing to shell out for just Hamilton.

    Cleveland has decent starters, a good pen, and a pretty solid field of players. Heading into the offseason, they looked worse off than the Mariners. At least I thought so.

    Look at them now.

  3. Westside guy on May 20th, 2013 2:13 pm

    Good!

    This front office has overstayed its welcome. It was effective in one specific way – the farm system is somewhat restocked, although there are still some significant holes. But now let’s hope the ownership brings in someone who knows how to build a winning major league roster and not just draft well.

  4. greentunic on May 20th, 2013 2:20 pm

    Really? That’s the takeaway? Its like a politician looking for excuses to try prove his opinion over and over.

    Home runs kept us in the games. Shitty bullpen work and fundamentals lost it.

    This post must have been written be out of frustration, like my comment.

  5. Klatz on May 20th, 2013 2:20 pm

    To be fair the M’s rank 10th in walks. so the team is patient in that sense.

  6. Dave on May 20th, 2013 2:24 pm

    No frustration here. This team losing games doesn’t bother me anymore, because it simply means that the necessary changes in decision making are closer to occurring.

    And pretending that the offense scoring 3.75 runs per game against a bad pitching staff wasn’t part of the reason the Mariners just got swept is either ignorance or intentional obtuseness.

  7. VivaAyala on May 20th, 2013 2:29 pm

    “Trading pitching, defense, and on base percentage for home runs has made them no better.”

    Except that the pitching (3.68 xFIP vs. 4.09, 4.02 tERA vs. 4.13, 3.56 SIERA vs. 3.93, 3.96 FIP vs. 4.00) (this year vs. last year) appears to be better in every sense except ERA.

    Similar with the offense (99 wRC+ after today’s game, vs. 87) and especially on-base percentage (.312 this year, .296 last). As Klatz pointed out, the Mariners are also walking more this year (8.7% vs. 7.7%), which is probably the primary factor in the M’s increased OBP.

    Really the only thing that appears to be worse than last year is the defense, which was readily apparent today.

  8. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2013 2:33 pm

    If anyone’s curious, here’s the opening day payrolls for both teams:

    Seattle $84,295,952
    Cleveland $82,517,300

    Of course a chunk of Seattle’s is being paid to Figgins, but this still shows what roughly the same kind of dough has bought the two teams.

  9. msfanmike on May 20th, 2013 2:35 pm

    The lack of ability to score runs without the aid of a “dinger” is frustrating. Dingers can come and dingers can quickly go away, but teams that have the ability to “generate” runs usually win over the long haul. Not playing good defense is an even worse malady than not being able to score runs without the aid of dingers IMO.

  10. MrZDevotee on May 20th, 2013 2:39 pm

    Yeah, but 25th in runs is a HUGE improvement over 37th (or wherever we would have been in 2012 if there were 40 teams in baseball).

    There wouldn’t even have BEEN extra innings, or bottom of the 9th, the past 4 games without a better offense. Or more importantly, WITH last year’s offense.

    We were miniscule mistakes away from beating arguably the 2nd best team in the AL 3 out of 4 games.

    Yes, that means nothing in the standings. But it means we’re a helluva lot more competitive than we’ve been in a long time. We’re a whisper away from having a winning record on a road trip that has seen 2 of the AL’s 3 division leaders. And the only true blowout was put down BY us, instead of to us…

    I guess you see it as the glass is 2/3′s empty, while I see it as “a shot of whiskey doesn’t need to take up much of the glass.”

  11. make_dave_proud on May 20th, 2013 2:39 pm

    “And pretending that the offense scoring 3.75 runs per game against a bad pitching staff wasn’t part of the reason the Mariners just got swept is either ignorance or intentional obtuseness.”

    Wow, great way of making a point. I guess when it’s your own blog, being an adult isn’t a requirement.

  12. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2013 2:40 pm

    Really the only thing that appears to be worse than last year is the defense, which was readily apparent today.

    The goal isn’t to stay the same, it’s to get better. Significantly better.

    The pitching isn’t significantly better.

    The players brought in to hit, aren’t scoring that many runs. We’re 25th in runs scored. That’s up two spots from where we finished last year.

    That won’t cut it.

  13. charliebrown on May 20th, 2013 2:43 pm

    I wonder what this post would have looked like if it came after the Yankees series instead of after the Cleveland series. Let’s see….

    Over the last 4 games the Mariners have hit 7 home runs. They have scored a grand total of 24 runs and have won 3 of the 4 games.

    They are 20-21 and are on pace to win 79 games.

    Wow…..quite a change in outlook based on losing just 4 games, especially when 3 of them came ont he final at bat and two in extra innings.

  14. Mahoney5500 on May 20th, 2013 2:44 pm

    Isnt 4 games a small sample size? I see that thrown out a lot when the opposite is true. Does that not apply now?

  15. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2013 2:45 pm

    That last comment wasn’t meant to be snarky, I just wanted to point out that the differences don’t show much improvement.

  16. refusetolose on May 20th, 2013 2:47 pm

    Dave– I didn’t see Brendan Ryan and Endy Chavez hitting homers as part of the offseason plan. Those are outliers, things that won’t happen often.

    Morales and Seager can do that, and they did. Nice to see someone on the team doing what they are capable of. Smoak too. And Ibanez has always been a hitter, as you state, with his lack of speed and defense.

    Now if only Charlie Furbush could throw a strike, or Wilhemsen could properly cover first…and that’s just today’s game.

    That’s not the homeruns problem.

  17. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2013 2:48 pm

    Yep, 4 games is a small sample size.

    But 45 games and a record of 20-25 isn’t. The HR’s haven’t been enough to win many games.

  18. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2013 2:50 pm

    Wow, was this post that hard to understand the general point?!

  19. Sports on a Shtick on May 20th, 2013 2:57 pm

    My takeaways from this series:

    -the franchise is still cursed in Cleveland.
    -bless whoever created @MarinersRants

  20. GLS on May 20th, 2013 2:58 pm

    This team losing games doesn’t bother me anymore, because it simply means that the necessary changes in decision making are closer to occurring.

    This comment bothers me. I get it, but it still bothers me.

  21. CCW on May 20th, 2013 3:08 pm

    The M’s were a .500 team in the 2nd half last year. They’re probably pretty close to a .500 team this year based on actual ability. Their overall talent level hasn’t markedly changed – they’ve just exchanged some run prevention for some run creation. Which I think was Dave’s basic point. Now, if Jesus, Smoak and Ackley can turn into good hitters, and the minor league pitching depth starts to develop into major league pitching, maybe we have something. As a life long jaded M’s fan, I’m not holding my breath…

  22. globalalpha on May 20th, 2013 3:31 pm

    I don’t think a four game sample size is at all informative.

    For the stats Dave cites, I don’t think a month and a half of a season rises above “small sample size” either.

    How quick Dave is to use that critique when it suits him but latch onto insignificant figures when they support his world view.

  23. currcoug on May 20th, 2013 3:37 pm

    The trades we made?

    Vargas was horrible in April (0-3, .325 BAA), although he has been outstanding in May.

    As for on base percentage, Jaso’s is down 55 points from 2012…and his batting average for May is .219. In fact, Shoppach has a higher OBP…and has a .808 OPS against RHP.

    I would argue that Shoppach is a defensive upgrade over Olivo/Jaso (yes, I know Montero is a liability).

  24. californiamariner on May 20th, 2013 3:41 pm

    Everything Dave cites may be true, but trying to make a larger point out of this incredibly unlucky series is a little low in my opinion.

  25. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2013 3:52 pm

    For the stats Dave cites, I don’t think a month and a half of a season rises above “small sample size” either.

    How quick Dave is to use that critique when it suits him but latch onto insignificant figures when they support his world view.

    45 games isn’t a small sample size. It’s damn close to a third of the season. And the numbers on the season support what many of us feared we’d see at this point, given the roster we have.

    At this pace, we’ll finish well below .500 and far from contention. But believe whatever you wanna believe, ignore facts, and assume things will be better without changes. Hey, maybe we’ll get lucky?

    @currcoug

    Jaso’s OBP is .339. Morse’s is .314.

    Wouldn’t a platoon of Jaso and Shoppach sound better than a platoon of Shoppach and Montero?

  26. Woodcutta on May 20th, 2013 4:26 pm

    Speaking of making necessary front office changes. Reid Brignac was DFA’d and instead of adding an actual utility guy (no Andino you are just terrible) w/o losing any actual talent, he goes to the Yankees.

  27. Athanasius on May 20th, 2013 4:30 pm

    Wow, that is some first rate reactionary analysis there. What is that I’ve read about backing up your statements with “evidence?” Apparently that doesn’t apply to the actual posts by the authors.

    Per Fangraphs. SSS caveats apply:

    2012 wOBA .291
    2013 wOBA .310

    2012 xFIP 4.09
    2013 xFIP 3.68

    2012 UZR/150 3.3
    2013 UZR/150 -4.6

    It’s seems pretty inexcusable to make grandoise statements about the Mariners ineptitude that simply have little basis in the numbers, or if you prefer, “reality.”

    They just lost 3 games in the last at bat. What was that about context being important again?

  28. globalalpha on May 20th, 2013 4:41 pm

    If you are talking about runs per game, then a sample size of 45 is small. The M’s average is 3.73, with a standard error of 0.39, meaning a 95% confidence interval would put their runs per game anywhere from 2.93 to 4.53. That is, anywhere from WS caliber to one of the worst teams in baseball. Do you really want to base conclusions on that level of significance?

    And to brush off the strong connection between HR and runs scored is absurd. So far this season that correlation is 0.51, a linear regression shows a t-stat of 3.5, and r-squared of 0.30. Over a full season (2012) those numbers go to 0.64, 4.5, and r-squared of 0.42. Home runs explain 42% of the variation is runs scored at the team level. Is there more to it? Of course. But you can’t ignore the single most powerful explanatory variable.

    The Mariners are 6th in home runs hit. They are 25th in runs scored. To read anything into this obvious extreme outlier is just dishonest science.

  29. VivaAyala on May 20th, 2013 5:00 pm

    “That last comment wasn’t meant to be snarky, I just wanted to point out that the differences don’t show much improvement.”

    No worries, and I grant the point that the results (in runs scored/allowed) don’t show much improvement. However, I think the significant increase in wOBA/wRC+ and also significant improvement in SIERA/xFIP shown in the numbers I quoted indicate that this team’s process, while still not elite, will likely produce better results and a better record going forward.

    So, focusing on the peripherals, I see considerably more room for optimism about this team than the previous one.

  30. alan smithee on May 20th, 2013 5:38 pm

    We didn’t tease ova for power. We just added power. Our ova was just as bad last year if not worse.

  31. Breadbaker on May 20th, 2013 5:46 pm

    Montero and Ackley have five extra base hits each after a quarter of the season, 240 AB between them. Brendan Ryan has two, in 104 AB. (Franklin Gutierrez has seven, in 54 AB.) This is a poorly designed offense, with dingers, rather than last year’s poorly designed offense without dingers.

  32. stevemotivateir on May 20th, 2013 5:56 pm

    The Mariners are 6th in home runs hit. They are 25th in runs scored. To read anything into this obvious extreme outlier is just dishonest science.

    You should keep definitely keep thinking that.

  33. bookbook on May 20th, 2013 6:27 pm

    The defensive problems, I expected. The lack of OBP, I expected (though not from Ackley). The bullpen’s struggles this year have been a bit of a surprise to me. I thought Capps was closer to being dominant, and the other pieces would hang together better.

    My first reaction to this post was to say sss, also. But this series–and the entire season thus far–supports the narrative Dave put out over the offseason. The team punted roster construction, defense, etc. and pursued dingers. The results are looking strangely like Dave predicted they would.

  34. Athanasius on May 21st, 2013 9:08 am

    The “numbers” Dave cites in this post do not support his narrative. In fact, close to the opposite is true. All you have to do is take the time to look up the numbers to see that.

    I get that it isn’t a solution to look at this team through naive and rose tinted glasses, but neither is it a solution to arrive at reckless, a priori conclusions. To do either is lazy.

  35. Hunter S. Thompson on May 21st, 2013 1:37 pm

    The Mariners are on pace to score 604 runs this year, and to allow 684.

    Last year they scored 619 runs while allowing 651.
    I didn’t break down how many home or away or look at the quality of opposition so far this season, but those aren’t good numbers. If they continue at this pace they are a worse team then they were last year.

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