I've mentioned before that I spend a lot of time browsing around Baseball-Reference. It's like my own little internet Powell's. Sometimes I'm looking for something specific, and other times I'm not looking for anything at all, content to let whatever grabs my attention grab my attention. Last night, Lance Lynn became the fifth pitcher in playoff history to intentionally walk the only guy he faced. Omar Vizquel has 111 more sacrifice bunts than any other active player. Wow!
The following information came out of my one of my non-specific expeditions. As we all know, Ruben Amaro built the 2011 Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, the Phillies entered the year with the makings of one of the best rotations of all time, and that's the way it played out. While Oswalt got a little hurt and Joe Blanton got a lot hurt, the Phillies handed 118 starts to the big four, and of the other guys, both Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick were terrific. Blanton was the only starter to finish with a below-average ERA+, and he threw 40 innings.around the starting rotation. Armed with
So, while the Phillies didn't advance to the World Series, the rotation did exactly what it was supposed to do. In large part because of the rotation, the Phillies were either the best or the second-best team in baseball this year, with Lee, Halladay and Hamels finishing second, third and fifth in xFIP. The league-average OPS against starting pitchers was .731. The Phillies' rotation limited its opponents to an OPS of .642.
The' OPS was .640. A year ago, the Mariners' OPS was .637.
We know that the Mariners' offense was bad. We lived through that offense. These offenses. It did not and could not escape daily notice. And there are a lot of ways, countless ways, to express just how bad it was in both 2010 and 2011. But this way might be my favorite I've seen yet.
True, the Mariners' numbers were hurt by having to spend half the games in Safeco Field. If you adjust for park, their OPS figures should be a little higher. But then, the Phillies got to face NL teams and NL lineups with pitchers in, so if you want to account for that, it kind of balances out.
Look at it like this and the inconceivable is revealed as truth. For two years in a row now, the Seattle Mariners have hit about as poorly as teams hit against the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies' starting rotation. The Phillies' starting rotation that ranked among the best ever built. When people would joke that the Mariners could make any opposing starter look like a Cy Young winner, they weren't wrong. On average, that's basically what they've done for two straight seasons.
There are other comparisons you could choose to make, of course. How about Randy Johnson? Over Randy Johnson's career, which admittedly took place in a different era, opposing batters posted a .650 OPS. That's higher than what the Mariners have done. And so on. There's a long list of options. But there's just something about the Phillies...all that build-up, all that execution. That good. That bad.
The calls for the Mariners to land a proven big bat over the offseason are off the mark. The Mariners don't have to land a big bat so much as they have to improve however they can improve. But if you don't still slip into little fantasies every so often where Prince Fielder is batting cleanup in Seattle next season, you haven't watched what I've watched.