FanPost

Safeco Field is the Mariners' Problem


Lately, the Mariners have been very disappointing to watch as there appears to be no offense being produced by the team at all. It has created large amounts of discussion by the journalists, the bloggers, the radio hosts, and Eric Wedge; with all calling for a significant change. In fact, reading the tweets from the various journalists, Wedge has gone on record saying that he is going to create some changes because the job isn’t getting done and he and Jack Z have back that up somewhat by sending Hector Noesi down to AAA Tacoma and recalling Carlos Perguero, creating shutters through the Mariners blogosphere. While it’s nice to see the team want to fix the team’s problems, shuttling players between Tacoma and Seattle will not create the solution, what needs to happen is the Mariners need to fix Safeco field now.


Major league teams tend to hit better at their home park than on the road. There are many theories as to why that is from the fact which range from sleeping in their own beds, to being used to the field, to not have travel. The theories do not matter as much because each one may be different on a player by player basis and the real key is that players just tend to hit better at home. The statistics for MLB back this up as shown in the table below

2012 All MLB Team Stats

All Teams

BB/K

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

BABIP

wRC

wRAA

wOBA

wRC+

Home

0.44

811

0.326

0.416

0.742

0.157

0.299

5596

256.9

0.323

101

Away

0.39

843

0.313

0.396

0.709

0.145

0.293

5228

-300.3

0.309

92

From the data, we can conclude that teams do in fact tend to hit worse on the road than at home, though there isn’t much disparity between the two. However, when we look at the Mariners’ statistics, we get a very different picture.

2012 Seattle Mariners

Home/Away

BB/K

SB

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

BABIP

wRC

wRAA

wOBA

wRC+

Home

0.43

22

0.273

0.289

0.562

0.093

0.24

92

-72.5

0.253

58

Away

0.34

34

0.308

0.415

0.723

0.158

0.298

195

-3.2

0.314

100

Not only are the Mariners hitting better on the road, but it’s a stark contrast with the every batted ball statistic showing significantly more offense on the road. The wOBA is 61 points higher, wRC is 103 runs more, wRC+ is 62 runs more. It’s not just a little more offense, but it appears that the offense is roughly twice as good on the road than at home. When you compare these numbers with the league averages, it starts to make the observer wonder if the Mariners played all their games on the road if there team would have an above average league offense.

Now, those of you who know Safeco field know that it favors left handed hitters more than right handed hitters, so many of you are probably concluding that only the right handed hitters are experiencing an issue. That isn’t exactly the case.

2012 Seattle Mariners Home Statistics

Players

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

BABIP

wRC

wRAA

wOBA

wRC+

Ackley

0.216

0.298

0.269

0.567

0.052

0.283

9.7

-7.5

0.254

59

Ichiro

0.217

0.257

0.298

0.555

0.081

0.245

9.9

-9.7

0.245

53

Jaso

0.266

0.392

0.438

0.83

0.172

0.294

12.2

3.2

0.365

135

Montero

0.209

0.246

0.343

0.59

0.134

0.258

9

-7.2

0.253

58

Olivo

0.184

0.205

0.303

0.508

0.118

0.218

2.1

-6.9

0.207

27

Ryan

0.211

0.336

0.263

0.599

0.053

0.253

10.4

-3.3

0.282

78

Saunders

0.189

0.263

0.264

0.527

0.075

0.264

6.8

-6.7

0.246

53

Seager

0.157

0.265

0.261

0.526

0.104

0.186

9.1

-8.8

0.246

53

Smoak

0.165

0.229

0.241

0.47

0.075

0.181

4.5

-12

0.213

31

Wells

0.263

0.333

0.439

0.772

0.175

0.351

8.5

1.3

0.341

118

With the exception of Jaso, all of the left handed hitters are not hitting very well at home to include Justin Smoak, though Smoak’s statistics have not been split into left and right handed statistics because of the worry of small sample size. What is interesting is that Casper Wells, a right handed hitter is doing very well at Safeco. Now if we look at the away splits you get a better picture of the season as a whole.

2012 Seattle Mariners Away Statistics

Players

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

BABIP

wRC

wRAA

wOBA

wRC+

Ackley

0.25

0.328

0.378

0.706

0.128

0.298

21.7

-0.2

0.314

100

Ichiro

0.293

0.311

0.397

0.708

0.103

0.295

20.8

-1.3

0.307

95

Jaso

0.29

0.357

0.484

0.841

0.194

0.327

10.5

2.5

0.359

131

Montero

0.279

0.313

0.407

0.72

0.129

0.324

16.4

-0.8

0.309

97

Olivo

0.226

0.242

0.419

0.661

0.194

0.239

7.7

-3.1

0.275

73

Ryan

0.165

0.25

0.281

0.531

0.116

0.216

7

-8.7

0.237

47

Saunders

0.301

0.356

0.524

0.88

0.223

0.35

30.3

9.7

0.382

147

Seager

0.318

0.349

0.561

0.91

0.242

0.344

28.6

9.6

0.388

151

Smoak

0.233

0.297

0.403

0.7

0.17

0.261

18.5

-1.5

0.305

94

Wells

0.24

0.321

0.36

0.681

0.12

0.355

5.9

-0.6

0.303

93

As you can see, the breakout for each player demonstrates how hard Safeco has been on many of the players, especially the younger players. Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager have been absolute monsters on the road with wRC+ that put them in the neighborhood of Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrerra, Robinson Cano, and Matt Holliday. Meanwhile, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, and Justin Smoak have been near league average. Even Ichiro, with all of the talk that he is past his prime appears to be close to league average and when you account for his defense and 12.4 runs saved this year, he appears to be an above average player again. The truth is that though this team appears to be struggling, the home field cannot be ignored as the offense may be at least average, if not better than average if Safeco Field would just play better. To better illustrate how much of an impact the field has on the offense examine the following table which takes the home statistics and subtracts the away statistics.

2012 Seattle Mariners Home Minus Away Statistics

Players

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

BABIP

wRC

wRAA

wOBA

wRC+

Ackley

-0.034

-0.03

-0.109

-0.139

-0.076

-0.015

-12

-7.3

-0.06

-41

Ichiro

-0.076

-0.054

-0.099

-0.153

-0.022

-0.05

-10.9

-8.4

-0.062

-42

Jaso

-0.024

0.035

-0.046

-0.011

-0.022

-0.033

1.7

0.7

0.006

4

Montero

-0.07

-0.067

-0.064

-0.13

0.005

-0.066

-7.4

-6.4

-0.056

-39

Olivo

-0.042

-0.037

-0.116

-0.153

-0.076

-0.021

-5.6

-3.8

-0.068

-46

Ryan

0.046

0.086

-0.018

0.068

-0.063

0.037

3.4

5.4

0.045

31

Saunders

-0.112

-0.093

-0.26

-0.353

-0.148

-0.086

-23.5

-16.4

-0.136

-94

Seager

-0.161

-0.084

-0.3

-0.384

-0.138

-0.158

-19.5

-18.4

-0.142

-98

Smoak

-0.068

-0.068

-0.162

-0.23

-0.095

-0.08

-14

-10.5

-0.092

-63

Wells

0.023

0.012

0.079

0.091

0.055

-0.004

2.6

1.9

0.038

25

Mean

-0.0518

-0.03

-0.1095

-0.1394

-0.058

-0.0476

-8.52

-6.32

-0.0527

-36.3

There are literally only three regular players who are hitting better at home than on the road: Jaso, Wells, and Ryan. Jaso’s statistics are close enough that random variation could be the explanation, but with Wells and Ryan are obviously following the standard belief that hitters do hit better at home. The significance of the delta between the home and away wRC+ should give most people cause however. With such a stark contrast between the home and away statistics, if the Mariners have Hit F/X, they should probably use it to see what is going on and act accordingly. All of the reduced offense at home cannot be good for developing players because they will make adjustments and they may be making the wrong ones because the field is playing so poorly. Yes, a change must be made but to the field and not to the team. The field is broken and it’s an easy fix. I would even argue, move the fences in during the All Star Break, it wouldn’t offer the break between seasons but Seattle move into Safeco mid-year. Why not fix the field now and see how much better things get?

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