FanPost

Looking into the agressiveness of the Mariners

It's clear that the Mariners strike out a lot and walk very little. The Mariners as a team have the 7th lowest walk rate and 4th highest strike out rate in baseball. This is bad.

But it got me thinking, does this blame fall on the coaches or is it the collection of individual players that management has assembled? Wedge has stressed in interviews he wants to see aggressive at bats, so the gut reaction is to say it's his fault that his players strike out so much and walk so little, but how much influence does a coaching staff really have on the way a player plays?

I'm going to look at 3 different stats to try and see if Wedge and his staff are causing this whole mess. The questions I'll try to answer are - Are the current Mariners walking less than they used to? Are the current Mariners striking out more than they used to? Are the current Mariners hitting for more power than they used to?

Lets start with the veterans, these guys have been around, have seen and heard so many bits of advice from different coaches, so is Wedge having any effect on them? (All players in this post have a minimum of 150 PA)

Player

2011 BB%

Career BB%

Career Low

Miguel Olivo

4.3

4.1

2.0 (2006)

Adam Kennedy

5.2

6.4

3.7 (2002)

Brendan Ryan

7.0

6.7

5.6 (2009)

Ichiro Suzuki

5.3

6.2

4.1 (2001)

Franklin Gutierrez

4.7

6.6

4.7 (2011)

Chone Figgins

6.7

10.0

6.7 (2011)

Justin Smoak

11.5

11.5

11.5 (2011)

I wasn't sure where to put Smoak, as he has more time in the majors than in AAA, but is still young and probably more receptive to coaching than the other guys. So with the exception of Guti and Figgins (who are having bad years due to other issues of health and badness) the veterans seem to be walking right about in line with career numbers. Ichiro and Kennedy are a little down, but they've seen success with lower walk rates than they are posting now (in fact Kennedy's '02 saw his highest WAR of his career, 3.7)

Player

2011 K%

Career K%

Career High

Miguel Olivo

27.5

26.3

30.3 (2009)

Adam Kennedy

15.1

13.7

17.3 (2004)

Brendan Ryan

17.2

13.7

17.2 (2011)

Ichiro Suzuki

9.0

9.3

11.7 (2010)

Franklin Gutierrez

16.3

20.4

25.6 (2007)

Chone Figgins

13.4

15.1

16.2 (2010)

Justin Smoak

21.4

22.1

22.9 (2010)

The only thing that jumps off the page here to me is Ryan's 3.5% increase, which is a career high for him. As a defense first, singles hitting shortstop I don't know if it's anything to worry about as we aren't counting on him to produce as much as other players, but it might be something to watch.

Player

2011 ISO

Career ISO

Career High

Miguel Olivo

.164

.179

.241 (2009)

Adam Kennedy

.128

.113

.129 (2003)

Brendan Ryan

.079

.084

.117 (2007)

Ichiro Suzuki

.063

.096

.124 (2003)

Franklin Gutierrez

.050

.126

.207 (2007)

Chone Figgins

.056

.087

.123 (2004)

Justin Smoak

.165

.159

.165 (2011)

The way I see it is if a player is sacrificing walks and increasing strike outs the only way that could be acceptable is if there is a dramatic increase in power output. So that's why I'm including this bit. In this department Ichiro is down a bit, but with the year he's having and the lack of change in BB% and K% I don't think the decrease in power can be pinned on the coaches. So other than that and the Guti/Figgins combo the only other thing I see is that Ryan's increased strike outs haven't produced any more power than he's used to.

All in all it appears to me that the coaching staff has no influence on the way the veterans go about their business at the plate.

Now let's look at the rookies, how much have their numbers changed from the minors to the majors?

Player

2011 BB%

Career AAA BB%

Mike Carp

7.2

10.3

Dustin Ackley

11.1

13.2

Casper Wells

7.2

8.0

Kyle Seager

6.0

8.9*

* combined AA and AAA stats (only 117 PA in AAA)

Everyone is walking less in the majors, but that's to be expected. The drops that Wells and Ackley have seen are small enough to assume that's the same approach with more talented pitchers throwing to them. Carp has seen a significant drop, but we know he changed his approach and that the changed it while in AAA. Seager has also seen a large drop, however with very little time in the high minors he still might be in a little over his head in Seattle, or maybe he and Carp are the first piece of evidence that Wedge's philosophies are real and are sinking in.

Also for those wondering, Wells was walking at a 7.2% rate in Detroit and 7.3% in Seattle. So the change in coaching staff hasn't affected him in this category.

Player

2011 K%

Career AAA K%

Mike Carp

28.0

19.5

Dustin Ackley

19.0

13.4

Casper Wells

28.9

25.7

Kyle Seager

20.1

12.0*

* combined AA and AAA

Again we see increases in all four players and in this case there are some more significant jumps than we saw with BB%. Wells struck out 23.2% of the time in Detroit and a whopping 35.5% so far in Seattle.  Wells has always been a guy with a big whiff rate, but 35.5% is a bit unsettling. I'm still unsure whether Seager is slightly overmatched or being coached to be aggressive and I'm not concerned about Ackley (my human memory tells me that Ackley strikes out a lot looking on borderline pitches, but either way I'm not worried) and Carp definitely appears to have a different approach.

Player

2011 ISO

Career AAA ISO

Mike Carp

.188

.238

Dustin Ackley

.161

.176

Casper Wells

.195

.263

Kyle Seager

.103

.162*

* combined AA and AAA

I don't really have much to say here other than it doesn't appear that the jumps in strike outs have led to large power boosts. Seager has a big fall, which I think has more to do with the increased pitching talent rather than a change in approach. Also just to look at the team splits again; Wells had a .194 in Detroit and a .196 in Seattle.

The rookies are striking out more, walking less, and putting up some acceptable power numbers. However nothing in there looks so out of place as to suggest to me that the coaching staff is changing a lot.

So, my conclusions from all this - I'm seeing is a group of players whose past performances indicate that they are in fact, hackers who don't walk. Ackley, Smoak, Carp, and Figgins are the only 4 players who have walked at a 10% or higher rate in their past, with Ackley and Smoak being the only two maintaining this talent.  Basically there is nothing in the 2011 numbers that suggest to me that Wedge and his staff are making these Mariners strike out more and walk less.

I realize this is probably a pretty surface level investigation, but I'm not the biggest stat head and I went with what I know, so if anyone has anything else to add to what I've done I'm all ears.

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