First Half In Review: Passing Out The Grades
As we wait out the remainder of the MLB All-Star Break, the Seattle Mariners sit at 43-52, 13 games out of first place but just two games behind the Angels, which would be encouraging to someone who’s been out of touch since being deployed overseas by the military in the middle of spring training. People like to think of the break as the season’s halfway point, and for the Mariners that’s exactly true as they’ll shortly resume their ordinary 190-game campaign. But before we all focus on what’s to come, we have here an opportunity to reflect on what’s already happened, and for purposes of providing a quick summary, below you’re going to find a completely subjective and arbitrary team report card, broken down player by player.
One thing you could do is go to FanGraphs or Baseball-Reference and look up how the team’s players have done, in case you don’t know and are curious. There’s no reason at all to trust these assigned letter grades, because the grades are just lousy inconsistent substitutes for the meaningful statistics themselves, but I’ve done this every year for as long as I can remember and when you have traditions you can’t just up and buck them, if I’ve learned anything from Major League Baseball. You need to do things the way you’ve always done them, and I’ve always done stupid midseason report cards, so here’s a stupid midseason report card, featuring every player who’s played on the 2013 Mariners. It’s split between position players and pitchers, and if you want to argue any of these grades, be my guest, metaphorically. Don’t be my guest, literally, because I don’t want to have you. It’s nothing against you. Well yeah it is. I don’t know why I said it isn’t. Stay away from my apartment!
Report card to follow. The methodology behind each grade can be best summarized as “sure, why not.” Seriously though please don’t argue, if you want to argue take the time instead to think about what you were going to do. To think about what you were going to argue. Why? Just, why? We’re all dying.
Alex Liddi: F
Liddi, of course, isn’t with the Mariners anymore, and he was traded for astonishingly little, which went to show how low his value had sunk. Liddi did get his final Mariners plate appearance on June 17, in a blowout loss against the Angels. Facing Dane De La Rosa, Liddi swung at the first pitch and missed. Then he swung at the second pitch and missed. Then he swung at the third pitch and missed. As a Mariner, Liddi died doing what he loved: striking out. The only thing I can conclude from his statistical record is that he loved striking out.
Brad Miller: B
Following a really bad comedian on stage isn’t good, because the crowd is going to be unpleasant and difficult to tap into. Miller’s bat at shortstop got to follow Brendan Ryan’s bat at shortstop and that isn’t at all like following a really bad comedian on stage.
Brandon Bantz: F
You did it, kid! You got to the majors for reasons out of your control and you immediately made outs! Bantz was deemed an insufficient substitute for Jesus Sucre, who also wasn’t on any radars in February.
Brendan Ryan: D-
I’m getting ready to say goodbye to maybe my favorite not-good player of all time. Ryan made the impossible look possible, and in the other part of his game he made the possible look impossible. It’s only impossible for you, Brendan Ryan. You and apparently Dustin Ackley.
Carlos Peguero: B
Apparently Carlos Peguero hit a home run?
Carlos Triunfel: F
Carlos Triunfel did not hit a home run. But he did hit a hit, twice.
Dustin Ackley: F+
Despite promising signs in Tacoma, in the majors Ackley still looks like an emotionless pile of crap. Which is one way you could describe all piles of crap, to be fair. It’s an F+ because Ackley agreed to change positions and also because this way Ackley stands out more, and we need to more properly and deeply appreciate how horrible this has gotten.
Endy Chavez: D+
Endy Chavez has batted 234 times this season as a Mariner. This is like when Chris Jakubauskas threw 93 innings in 2009. On any given day, you’re liable to look at the numbers and think “what the hell?”
Franklin Gutierrez: C
Franklin Gutierrez is our lives and our happiness. Our happiness is fleeting, our lives promising but unpredictable. Make plans if you must. You must, sometimes. But accept the extent to which you’re not in control. You don’t control your destiny. Your destiny is out of control.
Henry Blanco: D+
The Mariners have a baseball player on the team specifically to instruct another baseball player on the team. The Mariners also have a coaching staff! Allegedly.
Jason Bay: C+
Jason Bay has a 106 OPS+. Imagine if Chone Figgins went somewhere and had a 106 OPS+. Injury problems, but also a 106 OPS+. It would be weird if you ran into a Mets fan who really hates the Mariners, but then, it would not.
Jesus Montero: F
And, when Jesus Montero gets suspended, he’ll be more valuable to the Mariners than he has been as a participating player. Jesus Montero is 23 years old and I think I’m actually, genuinely more optimistic about Carlos Peguero’s chances of putting it together.
Jesus Sucre: D-
Jesus Sucre has a higher letter grade than Jesus Montero.
Justin Smoak: B
There are truly promising indications that Justin Smoak doesn’t suck anymore, and that’s more than enough for me. Dave and I disagree a little bit about Smoak’s value right now, but he’s pulled himself up from replacement level, and he might actually turn out to be a league-average regular. A league-average regular first baseman! At one point you’re ready to give up on a guy, and at the next point you have a guy who’s no longer a troubling reminder of the time you wasted Cliff Lee. I mean, he’s still a reminder, but he’s not quite as troubling.
Kelly Shoppach: D+
Basically Mike Zunino plus a decade. The Mariners didn’t much care for Shoppach. Uh oh.
Kendrys Morales: B-
“The legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter the Mariners have been missing,” we’d say, if it weren’t for Raul Ibanez doing Kendrys Morales’ job. I wonder how Morales feels about that. You have to consider other people, Raul Ibanez.
Kyle Seager: A
Since the start of last season, Kyle Seager has been worth about as much WAR as Paul Goldschmidt and Carlos Gomez. He also already has a higher WAR in 2013 than he had in 2012. Dustin Ackley might suck, but then Kyle Seager has turned into what Dustin Ackley might’ve become, so. If Seager can sustain this a little longer we might have to acknowledge that he’s a star position player, on the Mariners, and it’s probably high time he be engaged in conversations about a long-term contract.
Michael Morse: C
Michael Morse has been fragile and his defense has been bad and he hasn’t gotten on base a whole lot, but there’s no way the Mariners could’ve seen that coming.
Michael Saunders: D
Before the year, Dave pointed out Saunders’ mediocre projections, and I noted, confidently, that the projection systems didn’t know about the changes Saunders made to his swing in order to make him more successful at the plate.
Mike Zunino: D+
Mike Zunino has a 66 OPS+ with good defense. As a Mariner, Jeff Cirillo had a 64 OPS+ with good defense. In Zunino’s defense, Cirillo was ready to be playing in the major leagues.
Nick Franklin: B
Franklin right now seems to be going through a bit of a slump, which might have to do with his knee or which might have to do with pitcher adjustments, but overall he’s been good for the equivalent of a quarter of a season and now this might be the Mariners’ second baseman of the future. And the present. Obviously of the present. No matter where Franklin goes from here, one thing’s for sure: if he ever gets hit by a pitch in the helmet, someone’s going to have to tell him so that he knows he can go to first base.
Raul Ibanez: 6
Robert Andino: F
Remember when this was a thing that was happening? Remember when people deliberately wrote blog posts about trading Trayvon Robinson for Robert Andino? I can’t remember a single thing Andino did. Did Andino do anything?
Aaron Harang: C-
Aaron Harang has Doug Fister’s strikeout rate, and Doug Fister’s walk rate, and Dylan Axelrod’s ERA. I don’t know what a Dylan Axelrod is but its ERA sucks.
Blake Beavan: D+
For about 15 minutes, not altogether that long ago, I thought about researching and writing a post about how Blake Beavan’s strikeout rate was up as a reliever. Then I read the Wikipedia page about Hieronymus Bosch.
Bobby LaFromboise: D
But he’s not from Boise. Great first impression to make. Everybody likes a liar.
Brandon Maurer: F
Some might say it’s not Maurer’s fault he wound up in the position he was put in, starting in the majors before he was ready, but then it kind of was.
Carter Capps: D
In a way, to me this is the opposite of Raul Ibanez, in that I just don’t understand. Okay, I understand how Capps might have some struggles against lefties. But I don’t get how Capps has Brandon League’s ERA. By the way Brandon League has been really terrible, for several millions of dollars.
Charlie Furbush: B
Like if Chris Sale were a reliever, and a lot worse. Furbush has a lower rate of contact allowed than Yu Darvish. I know that Furbush is a short-inning reliever while Darvish is a long-inning starter, but when you watch Darvish it doesn’t make sense how he ever gets hit, so I make his contact rate the threshold of awe. Thus, Furbush’s ability to miss bats is awesome. In between, there are walks.
Danny Farquhar: D+
Capps with more strikeouts, way fewer home runs, and a higher ERA. There are the makings here of a truly quality shutdown bullpen. There are also the makings of an inedible stew. You’d think the recipe would be simple to follow and get correct but it’s apparently not.
Erasmo Ramirez: C-
Ramirez could pitch 200 innings for ten consecutive seasons and if he needed Tommy John surgery in the 11th I’d be all like “I KNEW IT!” But he’s a good starting pitcher right now, and this season would look different had he been healthy out of camp. Underrated blow to the chances.
Felix Hernandez: A
So by many metrics Felix is having the best season of his career. In that way Felix is kind of like a fine wine, except that the art of appreciating him isn’t complete and utter bullshit.
Hector Noesi: C
Well, I typed his name without sweating and getting the shakes, so I guess that means he’s been better.
Hisashi Iwakuma: A-
Like a more polished, proven, healthy Erasmo Ramirez. I really like Erasmo Ramirez. I like Erasmo Ramirez so much I made him the subject of my quip about Hisashi Iwakuma. You know Erasmo Ramirez’s changeup? That’s such a good pitch that he throws. His equivalent of the Iwakuma splitter.
Jeremy Bonderman: D
In retrospect there was literally no reason to think that was going to work out.
Joe Saunders: C
A friend visits and opens a cupboard, looking for a snack. He finds and eats the last plain, unflavored rice cake. “Hey, Joe, you’re out of rice cakes,” he shouts upstairs. “No, check literally every other cupboard,” Saunders responds.
Kameron Loe: FF
As a Mariner, Loe allowed six home runs in 6.2 innings. As a Cub, he subsequently allowed three home runs in 8.1 innings. Never doubt the power of regression to the mean.
Lucas Luetge: D-
I think it’s instructive to recognize that Lucas Luetge is considered a Rule 5 Draft success story.
Oliver Perez: A
When I checked late last week, no left-handed pitcher had a higher strikeout rate against right-handed batters. Also Oliver Perez shuts down left-handed batters. Bay and Perez. Bay and Perez. Perez could actually bring the Mariners back a legitimate prospect, and then one day maybe that prospect could develop into a worse and less valuable player than Oliver Perez.
Stephen Pryor: C
Probably the Mariners’ next closer, so start thinking about nicknames and entry music. I’m thinking “Steve” and the theme to Animaniacs.
Tom Wilhelmsen: D+
Remember when Tom Wilhelmsen was suddenly good completely out of nowhere? Like, he was not good in the majors, then he was not good in the minors, then he was really good in the majors? Maybe that last part never happened. Like, maybe we imagined all of it, and maybe the statistics are only reflecting our imaginations because we have even less of an understanding of how the universe works than we thought. I don’t know where this paragraph is going, which gives it something in common with Tom Wilhelmsen’s fastball.
Yoervis Medina: B
All these years, I wondered why the Mariners insisted on keeping Yoervis Medina on the 40-man roster. Now I understand, because all along, in Medina, the Mariners saw a guy who could one day throw hard and walk too many dudes to be consistently successful. But then, given Medina’s ability to keep the ball on the ground, maybe he’s the best pitcher in the bullpen? The important thing is I’d rather watch Medina than Brandon League and I know that’s not the first time I’ve referred to Brandon League here but seriously the Dodgers gave him a three-year contract worth $22.5 million and he has 16 strikeouts. Hector Noesi has 16 strikeouts. And fewer walks than Brandon League.