Game 67, Mariners at Twins + Draft Recap, More on Target Field

marc w · June 14, 2017 at 4:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Sam Gaviglio vs. Ervin Santana, 5:10pm

With Christian Bergman continuing to be perhaps the least consistent starter in baseball, the M’s again turn to Sam Gaviglio for help in stabilizing a struggling rotation. With yesterday’s disastrous start, Bergman now has game scores of 1 and -21 on the year, but also starts of 86 and 73. This means that Bergman’s tossed the third-best start of any Mariner this year (behind Paxton’s best game and Ariel Miranda’s CG), but also the two WORST starts (worse than Heston/De Jong).

The M’s face Ervin Santana tonight, owner of the 3rd best ERA in the AL behind Dallas Keuchel and Jason Vargas (wha?). Santana’s running a career-high walk rate, and his strikeouts are down from recent years, so it’s not a huge shock that his FIP doesn’t support that gaudy ERA. In the past, we’d point to that BABIP of .154 (holy crap!) and note he was a walking lesson in the power of regression, but his statcast numbers show he’s done a bit to earn a low BABIP. Not a .154 BABIP, but now we can differentiate between balls in play, we know Santana’s done a good job of muting hard contact, as this Tony Blengino article describes. One of the ways he does this is by generating a flurry of pop-ups, which have an expected BABIP of essentially zero. That helps.

I mentioned this before Game 1 of the series, but Santana’s a great example of a pitcher who seems to tailor his approach to his home park. Target Field’s statcast-derived park factors put it firmly in the pitcher’s park category, and this interview with Brian Dozier talks about this from a batter’s point of view. I’ll stipulate to all of that, and that a ball hit at X MPH may go further in Arizona or Texas than it does at Target Field. But I have to point out, and god knows we’ve seen it in this series, people are pinging well-struck balls to all corners of this supposed pitcher’s park. When Santana’s at home, 47.7% of his balls in play are fly balls, and only 35.2% are grounders. On the road, he gives up 35.7% flies, and a shocking 54.5% grounders. He actively courts fly balls at home, and seems to prefer grounders away from home. Makes sense, though, right? HR-suppressing park, all of that? Here’s the problem: Santana’s HR per fly ball rate is HIGHER at home. Where he gives up all of those fly balls. This has led to a 1.31 HR/9 mark at home and a 0.81 figure on the road. His ERA, FIP, whatever you want to look at, are all worse – much worse – at home.

This isn’t just Santana, of course. I mentioned it first when talking about Hector Santiago, and while Phil Hughes’ batted ball numbers aren’t so skewed at home, he’s clearly giving up much harder contact there. This seems like a case of well-intended, even data-supported advice gone wrong. If coaches or even players believe that a strike won’t hurt them because of the marine layer, a high CF wall, deep power alleys, a great CF, etc., I wonder if they start to pitch differently. To check this, I looked at the expected wOBA of all balls in play, by stadium. Detroit ranks #1 at an astonishing .366, while Target Field’s second at .337 (three parks are below .300, headlined by San Diego’s .283 mark). Of course, both the Tigers and Twins have some pitchers who like to pitch up in the zone, so what happens if we only look at visiting pitchers? What do they give up? Detroit now goes all the way up to .384, while Yankee Stadium slots in at #2, followed by Oakland (?), Washington, and Arizona. Target Field’s 6th, at .330. So, visiting pitchers give up hard contact there, but visiting pitchers are evidently expecting Comerica to do pretty much all of the work.

If we look at *home* pitchers, Detroit…Detroit is still first, and is just about any way you slice the numbers. The Tigers staff does a lot better than the visitors, but a .349 xwOBA isn’t great. Target field shoots back up to #2 now, with Twins’ pitchers yielding contact expected to produce a .344 wOBA. In terms of actual production, Twins pitchers have yielded the highest wOBA to visiting batters, at .358. It’s like the idea that they play in a pitcher’s park causes them to pitch in such a way that more than counteracts the factors that make it a pitcher’s park.

For both Comerica and Target Field, the effect seems really huge, and while we don’t have a lot of years of data, it seems to be somewhat consistent from year to year. Yes, pitching philosophies come into play here, but the Twins pitchers yielding more HRs at home – even controlling for the number of fly balls – is pretty remarkable. I still wonder if this wasn’t partially responsible for Safeco Field’s dingerfest in 2016, with M’s pitchers striking out more/walker fewer at home, but also giving up more home runs.

1: Gamel, LF
2: Haniger, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Valencia, 1B
7: Dyson, CF
8: Zunino, C
9: Motter, SS
SP: Gaviglio

Wyatt Mills, the M’s 3rd round pick out of Gonzaga, is set to sign for $125,000 on Friday, per Greg Lee of the Spokesman-Review. That frees up roughly $450,000 in bonus pool space, money that will likely go to 2nd rounder, Sam Carlson, who visited the M’s at Target Field yesterday. If the M’s want to get Carlson the roughly $1 million above his slot value (to push him into late 1st-round territory) AND avoid the big penalties that attach if a team exceeds its bonus pool by 5%, they’re getting close, but need to save a bit more with their other first-10-round picks. Senior 10th rounder Randy Bell is a likely candidate. Here’s a quick table showing the top 10 picks, their slot values, and the pool+5% amount that functions as a hard cap on draft spending.

2017 MLB Draft: Seattle Mariners        
Round Player HS/Col./JC Position Slot Value Signed For
1 Evan White Col. (UK) 1B/OF $3,333,200 ?
2 Sam Carlson HS (MN) SP $1,206,900 ?
3 Wyatt Mills Col. (GON) RP $579,800 $125,000
4 Seth Elledge Col. (DBU) RP/SP $428,900 ?
5 David Banuelos Col. (LBSU) C $320,300 ?
6 Oliver Jaskie Col. (UM) SP $245,600 ?
7 Max Roberts JC (WVC) SP $192,200 ?
8 Billy Cooke Col. (CCU) SP $156,500 ?
9 Jorge Benitez HS (FL) SP $140,900 ?
10 Randy Bell Col. (USA) SP $133,000 ?

Total Bonus Pool: $6,737,300
Maximum Spend without losing draft pick: $7,074,165

Today’s roster move: swingman Casey Lawrence, who got steamrolled in last night’s game, heads back to Tacoma in exchange for Chase De Jong.

Nick Neidert got knocked around in Modesto’s loss, and the Rainiers’ bats couldn’t get going in a 3-1 loss in El Paso, but Arkansas beat NW Arkansas easily behind a great start from Dylan Unsworth and another Grand Slam from Tyler Marlette. Dario Pizzano had 4 hits, too. Max Povse headlines tonight’s starters, as he’s making his first appearance since May 20th, when he suffered a hamstring pull. Tyler Cloyd, Brett Ash, Brandon Miller and Pablo Lopez round out the M’s affiliate starting pitchers.


7 Responses to “Game 67, Mariners at Twins + Draft Recap, More on Target Field”

  1. Westside guy on June 14th, 2017 5:00 pm

    I am likely about to make it crystal clear that I am not knowledgable regarding the draft…

    Given that, year to year, the quality of drafts vary widely… I’m curious if any team might (if they look ahead and see a poor draft year looming in year+1) choose to just pay whatever it takes to get everyone they can sign, blowing through their cap in the process and intentionally giving up that pick in that subsequent lousy year.

    Sort of how some teams have approached international signings recently, now that MLB has clamped way down on what they can offer.

  2. ck on June 14th, 2017 5:03 pm

    Thank you, Marc. The baseball draft has a very different vibe from NFL or NBA drafts, where you can see a player drafted that makes the top pro level squad in the same calendar year.
    Michael Jordan in his prime could not reach AAA baseball. Tim Tebow might, but he has marquee value, otherwise his current age would have disqualified him.
    From what has been written about the M’s top two picks this year, I think they both will play MLB, and I hope it will be with the Mariners.
    But, who knows when ?

  3. stevemotivateir on June 14th, 2017 6:51 pm

    Santana may be good, but plunking Haniger and Zunino was pure chickenshit. Glad they kept their cool, but I wish Santana had got a dose of his own.

  4. stevemotivateir on June 14th, 2017 7:14 pm

    Gaviglio kind of reminds me of Erasmo. Stuggles to give innings and leaves a lot of pitches a little too far in.

  5. stevemotivateir on June 14th, 2017 7:53 pm

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Ben Gamel can play ball.

    Thank you, have a good night.

  6. Notfromboise on June 14th, 2017 9:36 pm

    Even as official caretaker of Zunino Island, Im not sure i’m ready to live in a world where he suddenly has a .750 OPS and is worth being thrown at in an official MLB game.

    This has been pretty unreal. We may never be able to pitch again, but the M’s are officially fun to watch again 🙂

  7. stevemotivateir on June 15th, 2017 8:04 am


    The problem with signing everyone–penalties be damned–is that the draft is remarkably similar every year. I would think that any gains made would be lost just as fast, and since you can’t predict the future with a team like the Mariners, you’d run the risk of missing out on a better draft position the coming year.

    That’s my two cents. I’m no expert on the draft or the rules either, so I’m just speculating myself. I could see how that might work in a year with a strong class of prospects for a team that intends to spend and contend the next season.

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