What We’ve Seen Lately

Jeff Sullivan · July 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

In July, the Mariners have been scoring runs. Maybe you’ve noticed this directly, by observing them score runs and taking down notes. Maybe you’ve noticed this indirectly, by looking back and realizing that lately watching the Mariners hasn’t been a godawful chore. People are actually enjoying the Mariners. They’re actually looking forward to the Mariners. The Mariners, at least for a little while, have featured a real offense, and the real offense has driven real wins, and the Mariners just swept the Angels who I refuse to believe are as bad as their record. The Mariners aren’t going anywhere in 2013, at least not anywhere with playoff bedsheets, but with recent roster turnover and with recent performance, I think the general fan mood is unusually positive.

It’s a consequence of having such a young roster. It becomes easy to believe. And the good mood might come to an abrupt halt on the other side of the break, I don’t know. The month is only halfway over, but if you allow me to use OPS, regular OPS, non-park-adjusted OPS, I’ll inform you that, in July, the Mariners have posted an .853 OPS. That’s as a team. Kyle Seager has an .846 OPS. Said OPS, so far, ranks first in the American League in the month. In July, the Mariners have had the AL’s best team offense.

To look at this differently: the Mariners have played 13 July games. In all but one, they’ve scored at least four runs. In that one, they scored three, and beat the Reds, in a National League ballpark. Back in 2010, between August 27 and September 6, the Mariners played 11 games, and never reached as many as four runs once. We’re unaccustomed to seeing the Mariners put out this kind of offensive productivity, and maybe an image will help drive that point home, as if it actually needs to be driven.

Below, a chart. We’re going month by month, from 2008 to the present day, and we’re looking at the Mariners’ OPS rank in the AL. It’s telling. Over the course of things, at least we know we probably built character. But I could stand to have a little less character, and a little more positive association with my favorite baseball team. If ifs and buts…


This month isn’t over — it’s only half over! — but right now, the Mariners have the month’s best OPS in the league. Last month, they were 12th. The month before, ninth. The month before that, 13th. That covers 2013. I don’t want to cover the years before. I already lived them once, and once is once too much.

It’s not just that the Mariners hadn’t had a league-leading offense for a month since the start of 2008. That’s covering 33 months. It’s that they hadn’t even ranked in the top five. In June 2009, they were sixth, and that’s the previous high. Next-best? Three months, tied at ninth. I know this is just OPS, and Safeco makes the Mariners look worse than they are, but this isn’t a time when we need to be perfectly scientific. The point gets across, no matter if you use OPS or wRC+. The Mariners have sucked at scoring, consistently.

The last time the Mariners ranked in the top five was August 2007. The last time they had the AL’s best OPS for a month was June 2006. I’m just going to guess that, this month, they won’t be able to hold off the Tigers, but the difference between the Mariners’ July OPS and the sixth-place July OPS is 103 points, so we could be well on our way to a top-five finish. This is the first time in a very, very long time that we’ve gotten to feel like the Mariners have a legitimate offensive attack. There’ve been flashes before, but this has been sustained, even if it won’t sustain much longer.

What’s helped? This month, the Mariners have led the AL in dingers. Kyle Seager and Raul Ibanez have slugged in the .700s. Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales have slugged in the .600s. Michael Saunders has almost joined them, and then Brad Miller has held his own. Others, like Nick Franklin, Mike Zunino, and Dustin Ackley have struggled, but maybe they’ll get better and somewhat offset the other guys getting worse. With a young team, everyone’s got promise. Every success feels like a potential indicator; every failure can be written off as a growing pain. A young team lets you lie to yourself, convincingly, and that’s kind of one of the keys to enduring sports-fan happiness. Happiness when you’re not on the verge of a title.

What I’m not saying is that the Mariners have one of the league’s best offensive units. What I am saying is that the Mariners have recently had one of the league’s best offensive units, and we just haven’t seen that from them in god-damned forever. So it’s a different feeling, a new feeling, a fresh feeling, where we get to watch these Mariners and separate them from the Mariners of months and seasons past. It’s re-energizing, because we’ve been able to feel like we’re fans of a whole different ballclub.

No idea what happens now. Maybe the Mariners revert to themselves and this positivity deteriorates in a week. There’s no such thing as a feeling that lasts, not in the realm of fandom. But maybe they keep hitting and scoring. Maybe they keep providing entertainment. Maybe they keep feeling worthwhile, which I can tell you hasn’t been like them. There are things about this team to grip onto, things that aren’t just Felix Hernandez. If nothing else, the Mariners are capable of making us feel the way that we’ve felt. It’s been nice.


77 Responses to “What We’ve Seen Lately”

  1. eponymous coward on July 16th, 2013 11:21 pm

    IF this team could keep scoring and allowing runs at the rate they’ve managed in July, and IF in doing so their remaining won-loss record matched the Pythagorean expectation…
    And IF I actually did the math right…
    They’d finish the season 82-80

    Yeah, it’s TOTALLY realistic for this team to slug .500 (well, .499) the rest of the way. 😛

    (The Murderer’s Row Yankees? Slugged .488 as a team.)

    I’m happy that watching this team is considerably less of a trip to the dentist (and by trip to the dentist, I mean “Marathon Man“)… but this is a hot streak. Some fundamental problems are still there. This is maybe a .500 true talent team if everyone is healthy and nobody gets traded (I’m skeptical they will stay that way).

    Onward to a hopefully better second half.

  2. Westside guy on July 16th, 2013 11:34 pm

    Just in case it wasn’t clear from all those capitalized “IF”s…

    I agree with you completely, eponymous – except, actually, I’m not sure they’re even a .500 team yet.

  3. MrZDevotee on July 16th, 2013 11:41 pm

    I truly believe trading Iwakuma is the smart thing to do. As long as it’s for a high OF prospect, or an adequate current MLB OF.

    Trading from a strength (hypothetical) at his highest value likely ever, for anything to plug into our most inherent weakness (OF).

    I think the same for Ibanez. I really like the guy, but if the M’s (or he) don’t plan on bringing him back next year, then we need to trade him. He’s EXACTLY the type of player teams are known to overpay for at the All-Star break– a guy whose perceived offense blinds folks to his huge limitations.

    If Raul wants a chance to contend, and loves the Mariners like I think he does, we should flip him to a contender for something worthwhile, young, under team control.

    My thoughts anyways. The way to build on the youth’s current success is to begin to position ourselves to use it successfully, with other worthwhile parts, in 2014.

  4. Gibbo on July 17th, 2013 5:43 am

    I just don’t get the trade Ibanez thing. I understand why you would do it but I just don’t see him bringing back anything that good. So i see him staying and Morales staying on and resigning too, the DH 1B combo of Smoak and Morales is potentially a nice one for the next few years.

    I think now we need to start trading 2 or 3 guys for one better player. So a package of Morse or Bay with Perez and say Noesi or Bevan to get us a better player back.

  5. stevemotivateir on July 17th, 2013 6:37 am

    If you want him on a multiyear deal, you have to make the QO to increase your leverage and get a better deal.

    No you don’t. You can imply you intend to make the QO before it comes to that and try to work out a deal before then, …like right now.

    The modest overpay if he takes it is worth that risk, I think.

    That I can understand. As I mentioned before, it’s not that big of a deal if we got stuck overpaying for a good hitter for just one year. This isn’t something I’m going to lose sleep over, regardless of what happens.

  6. Westside guy on July 17th, 2013 7:01 am

    You can’t add crap players to a deal and expect it to improve the return. Other organizations already have plenty of their own “Noesi” and “Beavan” level players – if you want to get rid of one, expect another similar crap player back in return in a “change of scenery” sort of move.

  7. Mid80sRighty on July 17th, 2013 7:09 am

    Eponymous, you’re absolutely right that if the M’s win 9 more games than they lose in the second half that would equate to playing like a 92 win team over the course of a 162 game season. And I agree there’s no way this team can win 92 games over a full season. But, we’re talking a smaller sample. Do you really think there’s no way they can go 38-29 the rest of the way? I don’t think it’s insane to think they could pull that off.

    I’m not expecting it, but to completely write them off as a .500 team still seems a bit premature. Small samples can be wacky…

  8. stevemotivateir on July 17th, 2013 7:25 am

    ^38 and 29 (winning 9 more games than they lose) is what it would take to reach 81 wins on the season. The first half still counts!

    I don’t think he’s suggesting they can’t reach .500 this season. It’s just hard to argue that they could finish with 90 wins over the course of a season with the roster they have. Injuries happen, regression happens, etc….. all the things we saw in the first half.

  9. stevemotivateir on July 17th, 2013 7:53 am

    ^To be more clear, I understand both your points;) I don’t think 38 and 29 is unreachable, but it’s certainly not a given.

  10. eponymous coward on July 17th, 2013 8:11 am

    Could they get lucky? Sure.

    Does getting lucky change their true talent level, or mean you should EXPECT them to play like a 90+ win team for a large chunk of the season? Not so much.

    I truly believe trading Iwakuma is the smart thing to do. As long as it’s for a high OF prospect, or an adequate current MLB OF.
    Trading from a strength (hypothetical) at his highest value likely ever, for anything to plug into our most inherent weakness (OF).

    Didn’t you notice us getting killed by the Red Sox while scoring a bunch of runs during this hot streak?

    The offense is better than last year for sure. The pitching is weaker. Robbing Peter Pitcher to pay Paul Position Player when it comes to the team’s talent level isn’t going to help (see: the 2012-2013 offseason)- the rotation after that trade is Felix, and a bunch of mediocrities, non-entities and question marks, at which point we need to add… another guy like Iwakuma. Whoops.

    Besides, um, if you wanted to trade the starting pitcher who’s at the PEAK of his value, and would bring in a MONSTER haul of talent, you’re talking about trading Felix, not Iwakuma. But you aren’t, are you? Wonder why that is.

    I just don’t get the trade Ibanez thing. I understand why you would do it but I just don’t see him bringing back anything that good.

    He’s basically a bench bat or DH, so we’re talking B-prospect. Why bother? If he was brought it to teach the kids, might as well give him the full season.

    Also, I am getting tired of Jack trading the cow for “magic” beans… which turn out to not be Roundup-resistant when you plant them. Nobody on this roster is really going to fetch much of a return except for the players who would be creating huge talent holes, thanks to most of the vets being one-year rentals, and there’s no real surplus of talent anywhere. As such, I am indifferent to trading them.

  11. eddie on July 17th, 2013 8:33 am

    I’m surprised this post has NO MENTION of the new Tek bat that Raul Ibanez credits for his recent success, a bat that Rauuuul has let his teammates use (As reported by the redoubtable Geoff Baker). Delivery of the mystery bat under lock and key by a security guard after a night game in Pittsburgh, coincides with the start of Raul’s and the Mariners’ offensive surge.

    Keep this under your cap.

  12. djw on July 17th, 2013 9:15 am

    No you don’t. You can imply you intend to make the QO before it comes to that and try to work out a deal before then, …like right now.

    But then you need to weigh a different risk; that he gets seriously hurt or falls apart in the second half of the season. He’s not a particularly risky candidate for collapse, as far as pretty good ballplayers go, but this risk is real. I’d rather risk a ~2 M overpay than an ill-advised multiyear deal made with incomplete information.

  13. marcus_andrews on July 17th, 2013 11:40 am

    eponymouse, the trading Felix conversation is completely different than Iwakuma. Trading Iwakuma is betting that next year isn’t our year, trading Felix is betting that the next 6 aren’t. I’m indifferent about trading Kuma and could understand the logic. I’m against trading Felix for anything less than Buxton + Sano + more. Or a similar package.

  14. rowlandice on July 17th, 2013 3:05 pm

    I realize trading Kuma might seem like a step backwards talent wise. I’d prefer to think of it as a shot at moving talent from one position to another (OF). The M’s offensive pipeline has been emptied this season and all that’s left will be some pitching (Hultzen, Walker, Maurer). Going into next season we can hope on those guys contributing. Also, as recent offseasons have shown, it’s been difficult to get free agent position players to come to Seattle. So the FO should look into acquiring some OF talent now. Or even trading some of that young pitching for some OF help.

  15. BillyJive on July 17th, 2013 3:28 pm

    I do not want the Mariners trading anybody for ‘prospects’ I don’t even wanna hear the word ‘prospects’. I also don’t want the M’s to trade any starting pitchers not named Harang. Z’s track record is not so good when it comes to trading starting pitchers….

  16. stevemotivateir on July 17th, 2013 4:12 pm


    Those risks will remain the same next year as well and for as long as he’s under contract. I know you know that, but all you can do is play the odds. There will be risks regardless of what they do.

    Funny thing is, I’m more curious to see what happens with Morse.

  17. Westside guy on July 17th, 2013 5:45 pm

    I’d think Morse is probably worth very little. He already had a history of missing some games due to injury, but this season he’s been hurt more than he’s been healthy.

    I’m assuming he’s going to be showcased so he gets a bunch of playing time over the next two weeks; but he probably won’t be at 100% and therefore will suck. Fortunately the organization considers him an elite talent who’s just been randomly unlucky this year, and so will sign him to a 5/75 extension in August – so we’ll get to see plenty of him in the years ahead… in the team’s commercials, at least.

  18. marinerbullpen on July 17th, 2013 6:07 pm

    C- Zunino
    1B- Smoak, arguments accepted
    2B- Franklin
    SS- Miller
    3B- Seager
    OF-Utility (1B and 2B)- Ackley, same arguments ok.

    Can we agree or argue that at least these six (or 4) have a chance of sticking around for a while, and actually contributing for a while.
    Thoughts on OF’er Saunders?

    A few years down the road, do you guys see these guys still being part of this team?

  19. Don Money on July 17th, 2013 7:42 pm

    There’s no reason to think the Bear couldn’t be a mainstay in the M’s rotation for the next 5-6 years and it would take an overwhelming offer to even consider moving him. I still have plenty of hope for Ackley but he is a prime example of a highly rated prospect, the type you would hope for in return for Iwakuma. I would prefer to swap prospects for prospects, with a guy like Chris Taylor being a possible centerpiece .

  20. eponymous coward on July 17th, 2013 7:50 pm

    The M’s offensive pipeline has been emptied this season and all that’s left will be some pitching (Hultzen, Walker, Maurer). Going into next season we can hope on those guys contributing

    Hope is not a plan.

    Trading Iwakuma is betting that next year isn’t our year, trading Felix is betting that the next 6 aren’t.

    Why should you give up on 2014 in July 2013?

  21. Don Money on July 17th, 2013 10:17 pm

    I don’t recall anyone talking about Seager before he made the jump to the majors, so it could happen with any of a number of minor leaguers, possibly one or both of the Almontes.

  22. eponymous coward on July 18th, 2013 6:08 am

    I don’t recall anyone talking about Seager before he made the jump to the majors, so it could happen with any of a number of minor leaguers, possibly one or both of the Almontes.

    They’re both 24 years old and hardly owning their respective leagues or burning it up coming up through the minors. Seager was younger and raking at every stop.


    Note how fast Seager was racing through the minors- less than 2 full seasons, while posting better numbers.

    Also, the only place Denny Almonte has hit worth a damn is High Desert. You know who else hit well in the Cal League? Willie Bloomquist.


    Boy, he sure turned into a good hitter, didn’t he?

    The Cal League is a joke when it comes to being able to assess hitting ability from statlines there- the ballparks are bandboxes and a lot of games are at altitude. You should take wait to see if they can hit outside of the Cal League when it comes to a prospect (note that Seager did). Denny Almonte hasn’t, so you can pretty much ignore him until he does. Abe Almonte is better, but .300 with “meh” power in the PCL at age 24 is also no big deal. Not really a prospect.

  23. Sowulo on July 18th, 2013 6:51 am

    I and others followed him closely in the minors and pointed out how he was exceeding Ackley’s performance. The M’s need more outfield depth and Romero is the only one who seems close right now. Below AAA the M’s still seem to have a lot of potentially good infielders but the OF depth looks suspect.

  24. smb on July 18th, 2013 8:56 am

    I’m just happy to finally be watching a team that doesn’t make me feel like barfing at almost all times.

  25. Westside guy on July 18th, 2013 9:53 am

    “Your Seattle Mariners – Guaranteed to Not Make You Feel Like Barfing (most of the time)!”

  26. rowlandice on July 18th, 2013 3:48 pm

    I realize trading Kuma for OF help is just rearranging the deck chairs. I just think that adding a young controlable (cheap) OF to the mix with the rest of the young players would be the way to go. I think that the rest of their potential trade chips will only result in more players like T. Robinson and Thames. The M’s may suck enough the rest of the year to get a top ten and protected draft pick next year. With the competetive balance pick they got in the 2nd round they still be in good shape even if they did sign a free agent (pitcher) who received a QO and have to give up their own 2nd rounder. I’d rather not see more of Bay, Ibanez or Morse in the OF. The current free agent model seems like we get more players at the end of their careers and the best players get locked up long term.

  27. stevemotivateir on July 18th, 2013 4:03 pm

    You can argue that attracting free agent pitching hasn’t been much of an issue for the Mariners. With that in mind, and considering Iwakuma’s history, I don’t see how trading Iwakuma would be punting 2014. This could be a chance to sell high and it would be hard to complain if they were able to net a legitimate outfielder who’s controllable for a while.

    It certainly doesn’t hurt to listen. Would any body complain if, for example, Detroit wanted him and was willing to part with Nick Castellanos?

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