Seattle Mariners Travel to Surprisingly Expensive Kansas City

MARINERS (37-53) Δ Ms ROYALS (38-49) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA) -89.9 (30th) -4.8 -17.2 (21st) Royals
FIELDING (BABIP) 33.5 (2nd) 1.7 -30.0 (27th) Mariners
ROTATION (tRA) 4.2 (15th) 3.9 -18.5 (23rd) Mariners
BULLPEN (tRA) -1.9 (18th) 3.1 8.6 (8th) Royals
OVERALL (RAA) -54.0 (26th) 4.0 -57.1 (27th) MARINERS
Explainer

I have recently been in the market for airfare to Kansas City. They say, and it makes sense, that our emotions -- be them happiness, sadness, stress, etc -- get triggered most by gaps between our expectations and reality. My expectation was that I could find a non-stop flight to KC around my preferred time for like $300. The reality is that hahaha, no way, it's like $500. Now I'm pissed at Kansas City. But the problem isn't theirs, it's with my expectations. Humans are very good at putting the blame on others.*

*Optimistic humans that is. One of the telltale signs of pessimism is when someone consistently assigns the blame for troubles solely to themselves. Which tends to be more realistic, but also depressive.

Mariners' current draft slot: 6th

The Rangers were held to just seven runs over the three games in Safeco Field, taking place in Mid-July with mostly sunny and warm temperatures. I'm starting to wonder if this weather stuff isn't just an artifact of an unusually cold, persistent Spring. Maybe there's more going on.

John Jaso's big dinger on Saturday was hit over death valley and for Jaso, that's an opposite way blast as well. It wasn't some mammoth home run -- the Mariners called it 396 feet and hit tracker adjusted that to 399, right in line with the AL average -- but it was surprising to me coming from Jaso. Jaso doesn't have a crap load of playing time, but he's totaled only 14 career home runs. That's the very first one he's ever be hit left of second base.

Batter PA P/PA Slash line nBB K (sw) 1B/2B/3B/HR Sw% Ct% Qual+
J Jaso* 25 3.8 .318/.400/.545 3 6 (6) 4 / 2 / 0 / 1 47 82 118.5
M Saunders* 34 4.1 .258/.412/.355 3 5 (4) 5 / 3 / 0 / 0 50 75 63.0
C Wells 42 4.0 .263/.333/.447 4 12 (9) 7 / 1 / 0 / 2 48 63 145.4
K Seager* 43 3.7 .194/.349/.222 7 4 (3) 6 / 1 / 0 / 0 44 86 44.3
B Ryan 32 3.8 .233/.281/.300 2 5 (5) 5 / 2 / 0 / 0 50 82 90.5
J Smoak^ 37 3.6 .171/.216/.257 2 8 (4) 3 / 3 / 0 / 0 52 86 30.7
D Ackley* 39 4.2 .139/.205/.250 3 9 (6) 3 / 1 / 0 / 1 38 84 79.7
M Olivo 32 3.1 .129/.156/.226 1 9 (8) 3 / 0 / 0 / 1 57 71 77.9
I Suzuki* 46 3.4 .140/.174/.140 2 7 (7) 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 52 89 52.1

P/PA = pitches per PA [avg~3.8], nBB = uBB + HBP, Sw = swinging [avg~45%], Ct = contact [avg~81%], Qual+ = a measure of quality of batted balls [avg=100, higher is better]

Kyle Seager in his first 35 games this season had 138 trips to the plate and walked three (2%) times. Over that span he posted a .278/.292/.466 line. Seager's had 205 plate appearances since then and has reached base 27 times (13%) via walk or being hit . His isolated slugging has stayed roughly the same in the .160-.180 range, higher than I expected from him, but his latter span has a league average OBP with a batting average around .220. Small samples are so weird sometimes, when they aren't made by Jason Vargas.

Batter PA P/PA Slash line nBB SO (sw) 1B/2B/3B/HR Sw% Ct% Qual+
S Perez 35 2.7 .400/.417/.629 0 2 (2) 10 / 2 / 0 / 2 52 88 112.3
A Escobar 50 4.0 .311/.380/.533 5 12 (11) 9 / 2 / 1 / 2 46 77 128.5
M Moustakas* 46 3.7 .295/.283/.591 0 12 (11) 6 / 4 / 0 / 3 58 75 162.1
A Gordon* 54 3.7 .298/.370/.383 6 8 (7) 10 / 4 / 0 / 0 45 81 80.7
B Butler 49 4.0 .279/.367/.279 6 9 (7) 12 / 0 / 0 / 0 44 83 93.6
J Dyson* 23 3.6 .238/.304/.381 2 4 (3) 2 / 3 / 0 / 0 54 82 66.7
J Francoeur 48 4.2 .244/.292/.378 3 10 (9) 8 / 1 / 1 / 1 52 73 95.7
E Hosmer* 46 4.2 .214/.298/.238 4 13 (11) 8 / 1 / 0 / 0 46 76 38.3
Y Betancourt 47 3.6 .182/.213/.295 2 6 (6) 5 / 2 / 0 / 1 54 82 72.0

While looking up who exactly Salvador Perez is, I noticed that (by pitch F/X and StatCorner's definition of the zone) he's made contact with 96% of his swings on pitches inside the strike zone. That seemed incredible to me until I saw Ichiro was also at 96%. They're both really high rates, but neither of them is Jeff Keppinger, who in 156 swings at pitches in the zone, has missed twice.

I mean, of course neither is Jeff Keppinger since Jeff Keppinger is Jeff Keppinger. Neither of them are as good at making contact on swings inside the strike zone is the point. They're all really good. Keppinger is just fractionally better. Or rather, has been better. At this one thing.

And other things too. I'm not implying that Jeff Keppinger is inferior to both Salvador Perez and Ichiro Suzuki in every other facet of life outside of making contact on strikes. I don't have the time for a complete breakdown but I'd wager that Jeff is better in some other areas too. Maybe he makes really good popcorn.

MARINERS Δ Ms ROYALS EDGE
INFIELD 15.3 (6th) 0.6 -26.6 (30th) Mariners
OUTFIELD 18.2 (8th) 1.1 -3.4 (16th) Mariners
RBBIP 0.293 (2nd) .000 0.322 (26th) Mariners
OVERALL 33.5 (2nd) 1.7 -30.0 (27th) MARINERS
Explainer

So the Royals possess baseball's worst defensive infield. Maybe Yuniesky Betancourt isn't an answer at second base either.

By the way, Yuni's .685 OPS would rank third on the Mariners among regulars.

16 JUL 17:10

JONATHAN SANCHEZ* JASON VARGAS*
chart chart

The Giants sent Jonathan Sanchez (a free agent after this season) and a pitching prospect to the Royals and got back Melky Cabrera (a free agent after this season) in return. It seemed like a roughly equal trade of semi-usable parts. Melky Cabrera instead built on his career-best 2011 season and is currently hitting over .350. Jonathan Sanchez has 47 net walks and just 34 strikeouts.

Oops.

17 JUL 17:10

EVERETT TEAFORD* TBD
chart chart

I guess the Mariners are playing another turn back the clock day? That would explain why the Royals are starting a guy from the 1920s who spends his offseasons cobbling.

Side note: Everett Teaford's twitter handle is @teaparty61, which made me wary, but then his tagline is "Kansas City Royals Pitcher and Most Uninteresting Man In Baseball", which made me optimistic. His most recent tweet at time of writing was a twitpic of him sleeping next to his dog (who took the picture?) There's also this. He's okay in my book of whether or not people are okay.

18 JUL 17:10

BRUCE CHEN* KEVIN MILLWOOD
chart chart

I had the thought that Bruce Chen and Jason Vargas were pretty similar pitches. Chen gets a few more strikeouts, but also issues more walks. He's had a more persistent home run problem, but the two have similar batted ball rates and Chen has had to pitch much more often in homer-prone ball parks than Vargas has. Their career xFIPs are exactly the same, 4.69. Vargas is about six years younger, which is significant, but looking at this did temper my optimism for what Vargas might return in a trade.

19 JUL 11:10

LUKE HOCHEVAR FELIX HERNANDEZ
chart chart

Felix is so great.

Reliever BF Str% nBB Ct% K(sw) GB% HR Qual- LI
T Wilhelmsen 46 62.3 5 80.8 13 (9) 53.6 0 42.6 2.3
C Furbush* 44 65.9 3 70.0 16 (9) 45.8 1 117.5 1.3
O Perez* 43 73.9 3 79.5 11 (7) 32.1 0 71.6 0.6
B League 39 62.4 2 83.6 2 (2) 45.7 0 82.6 1.6
S Kelley 32 66.4 0 68.8 10 (9) 27.3 1 90.7 1.1
H Iwakuma 25 65.6 2 82.2 3 (2) 50.0 3 186.0 1.1
L Luetge* 25 62.4 3 74.5 8 (3) 64.3 0 85.9 1.2
S Delabar 21 71.2 2 56.4 10 (8) 44.4 1 165.2 0.5

Str% = strike rate [avg~63%], Ct% = contact rate [avg~78%], GB% = groundball rate [avg~45%], Qual- = a measure of quality of batted balls [avg=100, lower is better], LI = leverage [avg~1.2]

It was 4-0 in the top of the ninth yesterday and the Mariners went to Tom Wilhelmsen in the bullpen. I know they're just coming out of the All-Star break and Felix Hernandez had just tossed a complete game the night before, but maybe that's not the best situation to be using your bullpen ace? He's on pace to hit 80 innings this year. Maybe it's not an issue since Wilhelmsen used to be a starter as recently as last season, but I worry about how much he's getting used for a guy who wasn't playing any baseball at all three years ago.

Reliever BF Str% nBB Ct% K(sw) GB% HR Qual- LI
T Collins* 51 59.7 7 78.4 14 (9) 33.3 2 115.2 1.3
G Holland 45 61.5 6 78.7 15 (11) 54.2 1 54.5 1.2
K Herrera 42 68.9 3 79.3 8 (7) 53.3 0 52.4 0.9
A Crow 39 60.4 2 74.6 9 (8) 53.6 1 126.1 1.0
J Broxton 39 61.1 6 84.5 6 (6) 51.9 0 89.6 3.6
J Mijares* 33 61.5 3 77.6 13 (8) 41.2 0 70.6 0.7
L Coleman 27 69.4 2 70.2 13 (10) 9.1 2 240.5 0.8
R Colon 22 61.8 2 87.5 1 (1) 36.8 0 43.7 0.5

Series Beer(s): Lindeman's Kriek (cherry)
The first time I had a lambic, it was the Lindeman's Framboise (raspberry) and I loved it. What a unique taste! Over time I sampled all the other fruits of Lindeman's and decided that only the raspberry and cherry were worth re-drinking, with the raspberry my clear preference. I kept a bottle of each around, mostly for guests who claimed not to like beer, but rarely drank one myself. I'm not sure why. I just had the kriek again a little while ago and I must say, I think I've been wrong about my order.

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