Game 161, Athletics at Mariners

marc w · September 28, 2013 at 10:52 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Brandon Maurer vs. Jarrod Parker, 1:10pm

So we’re in the familiar spot of searching for hopeful signs amidst the wreckage of the 2013 season – a season that’s cost the M’s a manager, and may yet cost them their GM. It’s tough to take much from a handful of appearances, but Brandon Maurer’s turnaround or at least improvement is something to watch today. Since returning from Tacoma, he’s still posted spotty results (especially in the pen), but he’s put together two good starts against some good offenses in Kansas City and Detroit. More importantly, he’s made some mechanical changes that may pave the way for a much better 2014.

In April, his average four-seamer’s release point was about a foot and a quarter towards 3B, and it got a moderate amount of arm-side run and slightly lower than average ‘rise.’ I use ‘average’ advisedly, because I can’t remember seeing anyone with a less consistent release. Some of this may have been an attempt to change things up, or to move on the rubber against righties and lefties, but whatever he was doing, it wasn’t working. Some times his horizontal release would be about one foot different…within a single at-bat.

Since returning from AAA, he looks to have tightened up his consistency, and he’s moved that release point up – slightly more over the top than the 3/4 he started the season with. It’s always dangerous to attribute results to small changes in release point, but I’d certainly LIKE to think that Maurer’s made lasting improvements. From April-June, Maurer threw over 100 four-seamers and sliders to lefties, and had whiff rates below 10% with both – remember, this was when lefties were slugging something like .700 off Maurer. Since returning, his whiff rate to lefties on his slider’s roughly doubled and he’s not given up an extra-base hit on it. His curve may still be his best weapon against lefties long term, but it’s nice to see that the slider isn’t a massive, easily-exploitable flaw.

Jarrod Parker’s April was just about as bad as Maurer’s, but he’s bounced back to post nearly 2 WAR. It’s still not what A’s fans expected from him, and it’s stunning that the A’s have won so many games without a big year from Parker (or Reddick or Cespedes etc.), but his second-half performance helped them pass the Rangers and take control of the AL West. The change-up specialist struggled against lefties in the early going, yielding six HRs to lefties alone in his first eight starts. Since then, he’s been much better against RHB and LHBs alike. Improvement in his sinker since suffering a neck strain (perhaps after watching four HRs fly out of Cleveland in a disastrous May start) seems to have been the key, though that’s clearly hindsight talking. Whatever the cause, Parker’s again holding lefties to a below-average wOBA.

Line-up:
1: Miller, SS
2: Almonte, RF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Morales, DH
5: Ibanez, LF
6: Smoak, 1B
7: Ackley, CF
8: Zunino, C
9: Franklin, 2B
SP: Brandon Maurer

That’s EIGHT lefties in the line-up to face Parker. The M’s aren’t a great offense, but they can certainly stack the line-up against righty starters. Of course, that’s less effective against Parker than it is against others, but still.

Comments

51 Responses to “Game 161, Athletics at Mariners”

  1. scraps on September 28th, 2013 11:15 am

    may yet cost them their GM

    I’ve missed stuff over the last few days. The last I heard, Z was being kept on. Now maybe not (he asked very hopefully)?

  2. eponymous coward on September 28th, 2013 11:59 am

    That’s EIGHT lefties in the line-up to face Parker. The M’s aren’t a great offense, but they can certainly stack the line-up against righty starters. Of course, that’s less effective against Parker than it is against others, but still.

    Thanks for reminding me why I won’t miss Wedge.

    “Oh, there’s actual data that goes against my assumptions? Nah, screw it, load the lineup with lefties.”

    -sigh-

  3. mrakbaseball on September 28th, 2013 12:08 pm

    I’m not sorry to see Wedge go, but I’m looking forward to more dirty laundry being aired about Zduriencik, Lincoln and Armstrong.

  4. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 12:33 pm

    ^ I don’t think Wedge is that sort of guy. Remember who his hero is.

  5. Eastside Suds on September 28th, 2013 12:55 pm

    I agree with Westy. Wedge doesn’t come off as being into revenge politics or whining. Bottom line was he was getting a one year deal and he thought he’d paid his dues along with following the tough rebuilding journey Z has laid out. Can’t really blame him for wanting more security than that. Seems to me he is a stand up guy, even though he has shown many managerial lineup flaws this season. In the end, he is a good guy. Best of luck moving forward Mr. Wedge!

  6. Snuffy on September 28th, 2013 12:55 pm

    MSaunders gets another Wedgie.

  7. Eastside Suds on September 28th, 2013 12:58 pm

    I think we’d all like to have seen where this ship might be sailing had we not had a team full of rookies, sub-par castoffs and a half dozen or so DH types. At the end of the day, I’d rather have a bunch of young ATHLETES rather than guys who had hit homeruns at one time. At least athleticism gives you a chance to play defense. No question Wedge has made mistakes as well. Especially not playing Condor a lot more IMO.

  8. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 1:09 pm

    Okay Raul – given that you’re going to be in the lineup for the final two games, let’s at least see a few dingers.

    And an absence of outfield clanks would also be appreciated.

  9. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 1:11 pm

    Ooh, this might actually be interesting. From Divish’s Twitter feed:

    Wedge: “The contract was not the reason I’m not coming back here. If they offered me a 5-year contract, I wouldn’t have come back here.”

    Wedge on Jack’ Z’s comment that their visions of the future were aligned: “That’s not the case.”

  10. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 1:13 pm

    Question – There are a lot of numbers out there to help evaluate performance. On the hitting side you have OBP and OPS. That seems solid. Then you can have BABIP, some will say a high number here means the guy has been lucky, others will say he must be hitting a lot of line drives. Who knows. My question is – Is there a contact rate that just measures balls in play? I’d like to see a list of the guys that do a better than average job of hitting fair balls not just fouling off a bunch of pitches and by looking at the names see if it is a valid number

  11. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 1:39 pm

    I don’t know of a direct answer to your question, Longgeorge1 (although there are people here that delve into this stuff far deeper than I do).

    Indirectly, I suppose you could look at guys who have high in-zone contact percentage coupled with low out-of-zone swing rates, since both of those would correlate with making better contact.

  12. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 1:39 pm

    Smoaked!

    Dude seems to hit a high percentage of “just enough distance” homers.

  13. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 1:45 pm

    Thanks for the thought. I always reverse engineer these numbers. If Cabrera or Trout are high on the list, that’s good. If Brendan Ryan is there , that’s bad.

  14. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 1:49 pm

    Of course Cabrera, in particular, seems to be able to make good contact even on stuff that’s out of the zone! Dude is unreal…

    Oh, and you’d want a high in-zone swing percentage to eliminate the Dustin Ackleys of the world.

  15. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 1:53 pm

    On the radio they just mentioned how so many of the A’s were having a career years. Earl Weaver used to call that putting players in a position to succeed. Ask players to do what they can, not what you would like them to do. The key is to get guys who can fill your needs

  16. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 1:57 pm

    With Cabrera you just turn off the computer and enjoy a genius at work.

  17. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 1:59 pm

    First out at third BAD

  18. scraps on September 28th, 2013 2:18 pm

    Wedge on Jack’ Z’s comment that their visions of the future were aligned: “That’s not the case.”

    Hm. Wedge has never looked like anything but Mr Old School, and what’s more, Mr bad Old School. I disliked him before he was hired. But Z, at first, looked good, until 2010; then he was bad.

    But Wedge says Z and Wedge’s visions of the future were not aligned…. I don’t know, but Wedge’s dissatisfaction gives me hope.

  19. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 2:21 pm

    That’s a weird look Raul is sporting – one long sleeve and one short sleeve!

  20. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 2:37 pm

    Good grief. If the fans really think Raul has been the most valuable Mariner, I don’t know what to say. I can’t even fathom how they could possibly believe that. It strains credulity.

  21. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 2:41 pm

    CRAZY LEGS!!!

  22. Eastside Suds on September 28th, 2013 2:41 pm

    Iwakuma, Morales, Sieger, King Felix come to mind, but what do I know? Unbelievable! Brad Miller!!!!!

  23. Breadbaker on September 28th, 2013 2:41 pm

    Suddenly I have a yearning for rye bread and mustard.

  24. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 2:42 pm

    Although pitchers aren’t normally MVP candidates this fan likes Kuma, if not him Seager. Wedge’s line-up has been doing OK today

  25. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 2:49 pm

    Kuma has outperformed Felix this year, FanGraphs WAR be damned. And they’ve both been great.

    Seems to me pitcher WAR should be more about what they’ve actually done rather than stats like FIP that are more about projecting future performance.

  26. Eastside Suds on September 28th, 2013 2:50 pm

    I can’t imagine someone thinking we had a better, more consistent top-rate performer this year than Kuma.

  27. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 2:53 pm

    Baseball Reference has Kuma first, with 7.0 WAR to Felix’s 5.2.

    I have heard Dave recently talk about the shortcomings with both FanGraphs’ WAR and BR’s version (for pitchers). I think BR’s version is less flawed, or at least is more in line with what I think WAR should measure.

  28. scraps on September 28th, 2013 2:58 pm

    By the way: I just noticed two or three days ago that baseball-reference on the Seattle Mariner Team History lists Top Player every season per WAR. Did you know that 2011 Seattle’s Top Player was — I’m not kidding — Brendan Ryan (3.8)? Or maybe it should be ?!???!

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/SEA/

  29. scraps on September 28th, 2013 3:01 pm

    Westside Guy slipped in!

  30. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 3:01 pm

    Hehehe

  31. HighBrie on September 28th, 2013 3:01 pm

    Re Scraps: How does one start a bloodless coup to oust ownership in MLB? Somebody is farting under the sheets and nobody is talking. I don’t mind that Wedge disagrees with Jack, but I mind that Jack hired Wedge to carry out his vision, and I mind that Jack has deviated from the stat-sensible approach that he first brought to the job. Smells like too many chefs and a bunch of beans.

  32. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 3:03 pm

    Gee, HighBrie – does it HAVE to be bloodless?

  33. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 3:08 pm

    I think that Kuma has had one of the best seasons for a pitcher in Mariner history. Not as spectacular as a Randy Johnson, but when you consider that his style is more dependent on defense than Randy’s was and then you consider this year’s defense. I honestly feel (yes I am a Homer) that Kuma is top 5 in the league for the season.

  34. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 3:12 pm

    Just heard an ad on the radio for MC Hammer down at the Emerald Queen, maybe we could sign him to bring in some “veteran grit”

  35. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 3:14 pm

    That’s not an unreasonable opinion, Longgeorge – he’s been darn good.

    As a “homer” belief, I t’s not really on par with, say, a Detroit fan claiming Cabrera’s a better than average defender at third. ;-) (yes I have actually heard that statement made)

    P.S. I’m referring to your Kuma statement, not the M.C. Hammer one. :-D

  36. terryoftacoma on September 28th, 2013 3:16 pm

    They need to hold on to this game and win tomorrow’s then they’ll match my project of 72 wins for the season.

    There has always been a big disconnect between what we see looking at numbers beyond the baseball card numbers and the majority of fans. Always will be is my guess.

  37. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 3:18 pm

    Come on guys – win two for Terry!

    (As long as it doesn’t screw up your #6 draft position… #6org!)

  38. juneau_fan on September 28th, 2013 3:30 pm

    Er…

  39. stevemotivateir on September 28th, 2013 3:32 pm

    I’m actually a little surprised with Wedge’s comments. It doesn’t change my opinion about his ability to manage, but it plants the idea that Jack is a full-blown yes man now and little more.

    I had suspected as much.

  40. djw on September 28th, 2013 3:35 pm

    Then you can have BABIP, some will say a high number here means the guy has been lucky, others will say he must be hitting a lot of line drives. Who knows.

    One way to solve this puzzling mystery would be to consult that particular batter’s line drive %. So the answer to the question “who knows” is “people who can access fangraphs”.

  41. msfanmike on September 28th, 2013 3:35 pm

    I appreciate the opportunity to be able to weigh in on Chance Ruffin one last time:

    Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

  42. Westside guy on September 28th, 2013 3:35 pm

    Think I’ll run to the grocery store before they finish blowing this game…

  43. msfanmike on September 28th, 2013 3:35 pm

    And please – make it THE last time, Jack.

  44. Eastside Suds on September 28th, 2013 3:39 pm

    Jack has turned in a corporate bobble-head. Maybe an idea for next year during the boredom of yet another predictable 7 game losing streak to break out that giveaway. Maybe Z won’t make the clever connection.

  45. msfanmike on September 28th, 2013 3:42 pm

    Seager hit .259 with 56 XBH’s last year.

    This season, so far … 56 XBH’s and he is hitting .260. A few more strikeouts than last year, but with a higher OBP this season.

    His last two months have been pretty awful, and in a surprising way. At least I know I have been surprised by it.

  46. stevemotivateir on September 28th, 2013 3:59 pm

    You’re not the only one, Mike. Seager’s slump really dragged on.

  47. Longgeorge1 on September 28th, 2013 4:00 pm

    djw – so impressed, still doesn’t answer the original question about the ability to put balls in play as a % of swings. Just game 161 ramblings

  48. djw on September 28th, 2013 5:03 pm

    I’m not aware of anyone who keeps that stat.

  49. Breadbaker on September 28th, 2013 5:46 pm

    You go to Fangraphs, look up any current player, go to the tab marked “batted ball” and you can see a stat called “LD%”.

  50. ivan on September 29th, 2013 7:52 am

    So here’s a total troll rumor, from an unimpeachable source (my imagination) that says the next Mariners manager will be (don’t faint) Raul Ibanez.

    Veteran leadership? Check. Fan favorite? Check. Bleeds Mariners teal? Check. Likely to have a long honeymoon? Check. Likely to deflect criticism from front office and lousy play on field? Check (except for USS Mariner, haha).

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  51. heyoka on September 29th, 2013 8:23 am

    I’m already way into this troll rumor ^

    A few years later, scandal breaks that he has been betting/gambling on his own team.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.