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Seattle Mariners Games are Quick for a Reason

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

 

Last week, my wife and I took in a Seattle Mariners day game. She loves day games because it feels to her like “playing hooky” from her otherwise stressful profession as a senior research manager for a prestigious market research firm here in Seattle. When we do these outings, we always splurge and get the club level seats where we can get good food, keep up with the game on the numerous HDTVs, and order a beer from our seats. 

Most days she patiently endures my rants about some boneheaded managerial move or some television announcer’s inane comment about “Playing the game the right way.” But on these wonderful pilgrimages to the ballpark, she will challenge me with the most brilliant, innocent questions like, “Can a team lose when its pitcher throws a no hitter?” (Yes … walks, stolen bases, sac flys, etc., but it makes me think).

On this particularly glorious, sunny day on which the Mariners eventually succumbed to the New York Yankees 3 to 1, we found ourselves at the end of our outing roughly two hours and twenty minutes after it had begun. When I commented that the game had been particularly fast, my wife retorted, "It’s funny how much faster the game goes when you don't have to worry about that 'running the bases' nonsense."

In this one, brilliant statement, my wife, who by no means is a hardcore baseball fan, had encapsulated everything that is wrong with the Mariners this year, last year, the year before, and, indeed, during the entire tenure of GM Jack Zduriencik. No one ever gets on base. 

OBP Futility

Starting in 2009 when Jack Z took over as the GM for the Mariners, the team has finished last in all but one season in the AL in on base percentage. 

In 2009, the Mariners ranked 15th out of 15 in the AL in OBP with .314. In 2010, the Mariners ranked 14th out of 14 in the AL in OBP with .298. In 2011, the Mariners ranked 14th out of 14 in OBP with .292. In 2012, the Mariners ranked 14th out of 14 in OBP with .296. In 2013, the Mariners ranked 13th out of 15 in OBP with .306. In 2014, the Mariners ranked 15th out of 15 in OBP with .300. And so far this season, the Mariners rank 14th out of 15 in OBP with .297.   

It might behoove Mr. Zduriencik to read this little known, somewhat obscure baseball book, written by Michael Lewis back in the summer of 2003 called Moneyball. In the book, Lewis chronicles the successes of a GM in the Mariners own division, Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s, who has the revelation that winning baseball games is about scoring runs and that the best way to score runs is to get runners on base. Apparently, when runners aren’t on base, they can’t score any runs. It’s a really novel idea. 

And yet, consistently for going on seven years now under the Jack Z regime, the Mariners field teams that don’t get the fundamental edict of how to win games - score runs by getting men on base. 

The perfect example of how the principle of on base percentage is lost on the current Mariners front office is a move that was made last week in the wake of acquiring OF/1B Mark Trumbo, a player with a lifetime OBP of .297. After adding Trumbo (why?), the Mariners were faced with the dilemma of optioning either Dustin Ackley, Rickie Weeks, or Justin Ruggiano, since they would otherwise have six outfielders. 

Ruggiano was acquired in the off-season specifically as a platoon at the corner outfield position to play on days that the Mariners faced left handed pitching. Because of injuries to Austin Jackson and struggles at the plate by Dustin Ackley, Ruggiano has had to face more right handed pitching than might be desirable. Still, he’s managed to put up a .321 OBP over all. His lifetime OBP is .319. 

In comparison, Ackley has a .241 OBP for the season, with a lifetime OBP of .305. Weeks is getting on base at a .267 clip, down precipitously from his lifetime .345 OBP. 

So if you had to choose, on a team that struggles to get on base, do you cut the .241 OBP, the .267 OBP, or the .321 OBP? Well in Jack Z’s world, the answer is the .321 guy. So, if Justin Ruggiano clears waivers this week, he can either be sent down to AAA or cut outright. Brilliant. 

Time for Some Changes?

I’m usually the most patient of baseball observers because I get that the season is long and that it takes a while to get enough sample to draw any real conclusions. But after a 2-9 home stand and 12 consecutive games in which the Mariners haven’t scored more than three runs, FanGraphs’ revised projections have the Mariners finishing the season 72-90 and in last place in the AL West. This after pre-season projections that the team would win the AL West and contend for the World Series. 

Ownership may want to think long and hard about making some changes, starting with the GM. In the meantime, the games are pleasantly quick because, after all, “… you don't have to worry about that 'running the bases' nonsense."

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: Oregon’s Top Pac-12 College Football Players

Here are some of the Oregon players who have managed to make it into the 2014 Top Pac-12 Players List.

Prev Next

#22 Byron Marshall

College: University of Oregon

Position: Running Back

In 2013 he had 168 carries, 14 touchdowns, 13 catches, 155 receiving yards, and 1,038 rushing yards.  It’s no wonder he makes it as #22 on this list.  Not only do these stats make him a player to watch, but also a player with a lot of potential to climb the rankings.

 

Photo Credit: Scott Enyeart (Own Work) Live Link (Image Cropped)

Prev Next

#19 Isaac Seumalo

College: Oregon State University

Position: Offensive Lineman

This Offensive Lineman managed to block QB Sean Mannion who set the Pac-12 single-season record with 4,662 yards passing.  With his abilities to block in the manner of which he did makes him a prime candidate to possibly win the Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy, and/or Rotary Lombardi Award.

 

Photo Credit: Karl Maasdam (Own Work) (Image Cropped) Courtesy Oregon State University

Prev Next

#10 Hroniss Grasu

College: University of Oregon

Position: Center

As a junior in 2013 he became one of three Oregon native players to be named All-Pac-12 two seasons in a row.  He has managed to lead the offensive line to the conference’s number 1 rushing attack.  Entering his final year at U of O, Grasu has started all 40 games of his career at UO making him one of the Duck’s greatest players.

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Hartwig (Own Work) Live Link (Image Cropped)

Prev Next

#6 Sean Mannion

College: Oregon State University

Position: Quarterback

Ranking here for breaking the Pac-12 single-season record with 4,662 yards thrown, 35 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions, this is a player the NFL is watching closely. Already sitting at #10 on the conference’s all-time passing list, it’s going to be a breeze for him to pass Matt Barkley’s record of 12,327 yards thrown.

 

Photo Credit: Karl Maasdam (Own Work) (Image Cropped) Courtesy Oregon State University

Prev Next

#4 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

College: University of Oregon

Position: Cornerback

In 2013 he was the second Ducks player to have 84 tackles with 3 interceptions, and 9 passes defended.  He is a force to be reckoned with.  It has been unanimous that he is to be the 2014 Preseason All-American.  It’s also been hinted that he may not last too long in the 2015 NFL draft.

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Hartwig (Own Work) Live Link (Image Cropped)

Prev Next

#1 Marcus Mariota

College: University of Oregon

Position: Quarterback

With stats such as completing 63.5% of his passes with 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns, only 4 interceptions, rushing a total of 715 yards with 9 touchdowns, this makes him a hot candidate for the NFL.  He has managed to make U of O one of the Pac-12 favorite college teams as well as a national title contender.  He has also set a U of O single-season record throwing 4,380 total yards and set a Pac-12 record by attempting to throw 353 consecutive passes without interception.  He is also in the running to win the Heisman Trophy as a 1A option.

 

Photo Credit: Scott Enyeart (Own Work) Live Link (Image Cropped)

 
 

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