Game 86, Mariners at Reds

marc w · July 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Aaron Harang vs. Mike Leake, 4:10pm

Aaron Harang was once a near-elite pitcher for Cininnati, averaging nearly 5 fWAR per year in his three-season peak from 2005-07, but a combination of health and aging has left that peak an isolated, sort of bizarre outlier in a journeman-type career. He topped 2 WAR only once outside of those three years, and while he hasn’t exactly been awful, his status as the cream of the DFA crop is sort of understandable at this point. It’s the sort of precipitous drop that cries out for an explanation – why did a guy throwing 230IP per year and averaging about 5 WAR suddenly turn into a 1-2 WAR #5 starter? Harang himself points to a four-inning relief appearance midway through his 2008 campaign as the major turning point. Indeed, he’d been pitching decently through late May ’08 when he pitched the 9th-12th in a game against San Diego, but he faded badly the rest of the season, struggling with a HR problem that became an unwanted calling card for him.

Cininnati’s Great American Ballpark is a great hitter’s park, with insane HR factors according to Statcorner (look at the RHB factor!), but the fly-balling Harang had fought his home park to a draw during his peak. In only one season though (2006) did he post really noticeable home/road power splits. Even after his homer problem started in earnest in late May of 2008, it wasn’t something linked to GABC – he gave them up everywhere. His opponent today, Mike Leake, stands in stark contrast to Harang’s ecumenical spirit.

Leake’s got a great ERA this year, and as Eno Sarris noted, it’s not that he’s been incredibly lucky. He’s running a normal-ish BABIP, and while his K% and BB% are very close to career averages, they’re both slightly improved. The big difference is in his HR rate. Even though he’s a slight ground ball pitcher, Leake’s struggled with HRs in the past – his HR/9IP is far and away a career best, and is actually half what it was in 2012. Not surprisingly perhaps, his home park isn’t driving that change. He’s still giving up homers at home, but his road HR/FB and HRs allowed have fallen dramatically.

Is it sustainable? I’d tend to doubt it, but that’s sort of the sabermetric stock answer, isn’t it? Scott Weber and Sarris both note that he’s got a slightly different pitch mix this year, using more change-ups/curves and less sliders. That’s a possible driver of an improved HR rate, but there are two problems there. First, a chunk of the difference probably’s due to the batters he’s faced. In 2011, he faced more right-handers than left-handers (362-331), so it’s not surprising that he threw more sliders overall. This year, he’s facing more left-handed hitters (222-200), and so it makes sense he’d throw fewer sliders and more changes. That doesn’t explain 2012, but maybe he’s a slow learner. Second, it would help the theory if his slider was a particularly bad pitch for HRs – it’s not. He’s given up HRs on 3.8% of at-bats ending with a slider and 4.9% of at-bats ending on a change (again, this makes total sense when you remember what hand the batters in these ABs presumably hit with), and 3.7% of at-bats ending with a curve. That plus his fairly normal HR/FB at home lead me to think that his true-talent HR rate is pretty much where it’s always been – his command is still excellent, but when he makes a mistake, hitters have been able to punish him.

Interesting line-up today:
1: Miller, SS
2: Franklin, 2B
3: Ibanez, LF
4: Morales, 1B
5: Seager, 3B
6: Zunino, C
7: Saunders, rF
8: Ackley, CF
9/SP: Harang

The M’s get an extra lefty bat with Saunders in right in lieu of Bay, I suppose. It also helps the M’s rest the aging, Yuni-destroyed legs of Endy Chavez, which is among the many things I never thought I’d be writing this season.

I mentioned Scott’s article above, which reminded me: Scott Weber, Patrick Dubuque et al have been doing great work at Lookout Landing of late. Completely different place than it was when Jeff/Matthew ran it, which is to be expected, but good stuff.

Good day in the minor league system with Erasmo Ramirez making a start in Salt Lake, Victor Sanchez pitching at home for Clinton, and Thyago Vieira pitching for Everett.

Go M’s


67 Responses to “Game 86, Mariners at Reds”

  1. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 3:14 pm

    Hopefully Ackley and Saunders will each get at least one hit – otherwise Wedge will decide this was a failure and never let them play together again.

    It seems kind of weird to have Ackley manning center, though. I don’t know how he was in college, but to my eye he doesn’t appear to have Saunders’ range.

  2. joser on July 5th, 2013 3:41 pm

    Yeah, I don’t really get the preference for Ackley over Saunders in center either. Saunders seems to have the edge in terms of giraffe-like, outfield-devouring strides, and he certainly has the edge in experience. It’s not like center makes it easier in terms of judging routes for balls off the bat, and if they’re worried about Saunders hitting walls I’d think you’d want to keep him out of the corners where there are two walls to worry about.

    I haven’t been following the great local media folks (like Drayer and Divish) as closely as I used to, so maybe they’ve said something to explain it (I certainly hope they’ve asked). Can anybody offer any insight?

  3. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 3:43 pm

    Ackley does not have a right fielders arm.

  4. GhostofMarinersPast on July 5th, 2013 3:58 pm

    So I just realized that James Paxton is nearing the age of 25. With our bullpens struggles, would it be asinine to call him up and have him pitch out of the bullpen and see how he acclimates? I know he’s been bad at AAA this season, but maybe it’s time for that “lets see what we got” moment with him. He won’t have the pressure of starting and who knows, maybe he adjusts. Thoughts?

  5. Des71 on July 5th, 2013 4:05 pm

    Wedge batting Seager fifth not guaranteeing him an at bat in the first inning is another example that he is more evidence he is a poor manager. Yahoo.

  6. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 4:14 pm

    Swapping Seager and Ibanez might work. Miller and Franklin just made it a mute point.

  7. californiamariner on July 5th, 2013 4:14 pm

    Miller and Franklin!

  8. Woodcutta on July 5th, 2013 4:19 pm

    M’s scored the 5th fewest runs in the league in the month of June. The Reds were 4th. So it looks like another close game the M’s will lose in the later innings.

  9. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 4:21 pm

    Ditto Ackley arm strength.

    Re Seager: he was struggling (0-17 or 18) so Wedge moved him down in the order and then he got hot. In Wesge speak, it was because of the move down in the order.

    … And he stays hot.

    And Raul had been hot from the #3 spot. So, Wedge. And pretty much every other MLB Manager

  10. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 4:29 pm

    I like the idea of Paxton getting some time in the pen. It used to be a pretty common way to break a pitcher into the Big Leagues, but way more rare in recent years.

    I wonder if there is a package of players (Paxton being one of them) that the M’s might be able to use in order to entice Arizona to trade Adam Eaton. Eaton has been out almost the entire season with a bad elbow, but is inching his way back. Eaton is probably the OF that they would love Ackley to be, but Eaton has a cannon for an arm 5’8″ and a cannon.

  11. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 4:31 pm

    Saunders – sweet!!!

    Now, 3 more months of it – please.

  12. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 4:32 pm

    The Great American Bandbox – We need a few more when any of the “Little Three” are pitching

  13. Paul B on July 5th, 2013 4:33 pm

    Is this a Little League park?

  14. casey on July 5th, 2013 4:37 pm

    I too like the Paxton in the Mariners bullpen idea. Could probably lose and couple of pitches moving to the pen and might help his control issues.

  15. Rainiers_fan on July 5th, 2013 4:39 pm

    I think Franklin likes to play in NL parks. If I remember right his two homer game was at Petco.

  16. Will on July 5th, 2013 4:44 pm

    This game has been beyond encouraging thus far.

  17. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 4:47 pm

    Will – you just killed Nick

  18. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 4:51 pm

    Great idea by Franklin to try a drag bunt after hitting a dinger. Bad outcome, but great idea. I hope it’s only bruised.

  19. Will on July 5th, 2013 4:57 pm

    Boy, what if we had an outfield with Shin-Soo Choo and Adam Jones? Too bad we got nothing for them…

  20. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 5:02 pm

    Will, you just killed Bill Bavasi.

  21. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 5:06 pm

    A run without a dinger. Who would have thunk it?

  22. Paul B on July 5th, 2013 5:19 pm

    A double triple!

  23. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 5:21 pm

    Gee, you think Franklin needs to come out of the game?

  24. Paul B on July 5th, 2013 5:22 pm

    Nah, just rub some dirt in it.

  25. SeattleSlew on July 5th, 2013 5:24 pm

    Yeah, cuz dirt definitely worked for Morse didn’t it?

  26. SeattleSlew on July 5th, 2013 5:25 pm

    He could barely keep his balance after swinging. There is no reason to leave him in the game.

  27. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 5:26 pm

    I do suppose that an unstable one legged Franklin is still a better offensive option than Ryan (with little doubt), but defensively – we probably need the no-hit wonder to head to the infield, stat!

  28. Slats on July 5th, 2013 5:26 pm

    Miller time.

  29. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 5:33 pm

    Get out of this with only giving up one run, please.

  30. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 5:34 pm

    So I was away for a while, and am getting caught up via Gameday…

    Has Miller really hit TWO triples today?!

  31. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 5:35 pm


    It’s add-on time, boys.

  32. Kazinski on July 5th, 2013 6:00 pm

    I hope we are done seeing Harangue and DFA in the same sentence. He’s been as good As Iwakuma or better since April. Trade yes, DFA you’re crazy

  33. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 6:00 pm

    Wedge should send someone to whack Votto over the head, stuff him in a trunk, and bring him back to Seattle.

  34. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 6:03 pm

    I’d argue that it’s still fine to have “Harang” and “DFA” in the same sentence. Here, I’ll demonstrate:

    The Mariners should hold onto Harang but DFA Bonderman.

  35. Kazinski on July 5th, 2013 6:05 pm

    That was an embarrassing spelling correction.

  36. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 6:06 pm

    Tell me if this lines up with what others are seeing regarding Ackley’s issues:

    He usually only needs to be thrown 2 strikes to be struck out, but 5 balls to be walked. He almost always swings at a bad pitch during a long at bat and often does not swing at very hit table pitches. He has got to find a way out of that mess.

  37. gopilots70 on July 5th, 2013 6:10 pm

    Just turned the game on. Great!! Top of seven, Mariners up two Franklin and Saunders with HRs and Miller with a good day.

    So what do I see? Immediately. Exact same incompetent managing as yesterday.

    Runner on first, Ackley, No outs, Wedge does the right thing and PHs Chavez for pitcher.

    But again does the exact same thing as yesterday. No bunt Chavez–the teams’ best bunter.

    What happens? Exact same thing as yesterday. Chavez hits an easy double play ground ball. This time the opposition turns it.

    End of opportunity to tack on, to pad the lead on the road.

    Had a slam dunk opportunity to have Miller and Franklin up with a runner in scoring position

    Same stupid decision. Same predictable result.

    And you know the players on the bench are just rolling their eyes.

    Get ready for another late in loss courtesy of Eric Wedge.

    And if we win. It is still a stupid, predictable move by Wedge.

    And for the record. I am no fan of the bunt in most cases. This is the one situation where there really is not another logical move.

    I love Endy Chavez he is a great bunter, an okay defender and a fine fourth outfielder. Apparently, the manager thinks he is grooming the next Raul Ibanez

  38. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 6:14 pm

    I think Ackley should’ve been given more time in AAA, and his mismanagement has been yet another problem caused by the stupid roster construction by Zduriencik. They’re not putting him in a position to succeed. His at bats still largely suck (to my eye, Mike, you’re exactly right).

    On a side note… I actually find myself not totally enthusiastic about how well Franklin and Miller are doing. I want them to succeed for sure – but I worry that them doing so right now makes it more likely Z and Wedge will be given an additional year, which in turn will lead to another stupidly constructed roster. But I hate that I even think that way at all…

  39. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 6:18 pm

    Earle Weaver, Bill James and Billy Beane all think (thought) bunting man on first 0 outs is BAD STRATEGY. Chavez has a good OBP for a Mariner. Good plan bad outcome what’s new

  40. gopilots70 on July 5th, 2013 6:20 pm

    I agree with the Ackley comments. Seems to me that he can only foul off the pitches he recognizes well and should rip.

    I would not mind if Jack Z. hangs on if only to keep the very good drafting team in place.

    And I still believe that a manager has a big say in the final roster construction–especially in the bench

    But Wedge should have been gone a long time ago

  41. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 6:21 pm

    Pinch Runner?

  42. Will on July 5th, 2013 6:23 pm

    Anyone know what Raul Ibanez’ offensive WAR is?

  43. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 6:24 pm

    Just think Dingers, Westy – an the problem will disappear. All the main offseason additions are in the top 5 in Team Dingers. Without Ibanez, Morse, Bay, Morales – where would the team be?

    If you said “4th place” you would probably be right. It was a rhetorical question. There are no glaring issues with any if those guys – based on what was known of them prior to their arrival, but the overall roster construct was and will always be a mystery.

    So, ownership will look at what Z did – and the success of “some” young players, and probably give him another year. Wedge has got to go, though. He is absolute horseshit as an in-game Manager.

    Maybe Z will have to hire back Wakamatsu to reverse the curse on the organization. With Griffey and Figgins gone, would it be the worst re-hire he could make? Whatever it takes to reverse the jinx, I am in favor of it. Hell, hire Ayala as the pitching coach if that is what it takes.

  44. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 6:25 pm

    Raul oWAR 1.6

  45. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 6:27 pm

    Will, please don’t kill Raul’s offensive WAR.

    Please Will, I beg you!!!

  46. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 6:28 pm

    Will – uses BR’s WAR, and they have Raul with an oWAR of 1.7.

    dWAR is -1.2.

  47. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 6:30 pm

    Nice play, Kendrys!

  48. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 6:33 pm

    Big Tom Time?

  49. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 6:34 pm

    Miller sure does have a tendency to get “under” the ball when he throws it. Hasn’t cost him too much on the MLB level, yet – but it’s easy to see why he made so many errors in the minors.

  50. gopilots70 on July 5th, 2013 6:35 pm


    Up by 2 in the top of the seventh with top of the line up hitters coming up and I think even those three bunt haters would consider bunting there (Okay maybe not Weaver)

    Endy Chavez has the OBP of 294. which is 9th on a team of terrible OBPs and virtually tied with Kelly Shoppach.

    You do anything to get a runner in scoring position with your number 9 hitter up. Add to the lead, use the best skill of your hitter at the plate, give your relievers some room for error.

    Unfortunately, Eric Wedge does seem to manage like the hitters coming up after Chavez are Ken Singleton, Frank Robinson and Boog Powell.

  51. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 6:36 pm

    Actually I guess BR and FanGraphs should mostly agree in terms of their respective WAR calculations now.

    I don’t know how to find base running WAR, but that supposedly brings his total down a little more (although if you’re hitting tons of dingers, those trots around the bases aren’t going to hurt you!). In any case, FanGraphs has his total WAR now at 0.9 – his June has been unreal offensively.

  52. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 6:39 pm


  53. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 6:43 pm

    gopilots70 – I actually am a fan of Billy (Martin) ball so I don’t disagree it is just that Wedge might have been thinking 5 runs might not be enough with our bullpen. I am not real big on Wedge either but it is awful easy to manage after the fact. Also the bunt play could have gone bad too. (These are the M’s)

  54. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 6:46 pm

    Another dinger would be nice, Mikey.

  55. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 6:51 pm

    Perez this is interesting

  56. Longgeorge1 on July 5th, 2013 6:53 pm

    Down goes Frazier!

  57. G-Man on July 5th, 2013 6:53 pm

    Oliver Perez!

  58. msfanmike on July 5th, 2013 6:55 pm


  59. Slats on July 5th, 2013 6:55 pm


  60. Westside guy on July 5th, 2013 6:56 pm


  61. gopilots70 on July 5th, 2013 6:56 pm

    Awesome Oliver!! Nice win!

  62. naviomelo on July 5th, 2013 6:59 pm

    Sweet win. Bunting with a man on 1st and 0 out increases the probability of scoring at all, but decreases the number of expected runs scored. It’s a good strategy if you’re playing for one run. Which, with a 4-2 lead, is a debatable goal.

  63. gopilots70 on July 5th, 2013 7:00 pm


    I agree about the lack of confidence in the bullpen! And yes a successful bunt is not guaranteed.

    I would like to think I am not hindsighting because I was screaming at the TV (laptop actually) for Wedge to bunt Chavez both yesterday and today.

    Great win for the young up and comers today!!!…Miller, Franklin, Saunders (still hoping)

  64. Will on July 5th, 2013 7:01 pm

    Oliver Perez FIP for this game: -2.93

  65. naviomelo on July 5th, 2013 7:03 pm

    And…apparently not. That’ll teach me for posting before checking. Apparently it only works for going from a man on 2nd with 0 out to a man on 3rd with 1 out.

  66. gopilots70 on July 5th, 2013 7:06 pm


    Thank for that info on the bunting probabilities.

    My side of the debate is that in the seventh inning, up by two, with your number nine slot up (good hitters coming up in theory), and a good bunter and a low OBP guy up, good speed at first. You definitely bunt there.

    Great win!!

  67. sawsatch on July 5th, 2013 9:29 pm

    It takes a lot for me to give up an out.

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