Bad Offenses to Play in Hitters' Nightmare

MARINERS (67-71) Δ Ms ATHLETICS (76-60) EDGE
HITTING (wOBA) -111.7 (30th) 1.3 -30.7 (23rd) Athletics
FIELDING (RBBIP) 49.8 (2nd) 3.8 26.9 (6th) Mariners
ROTATION (tRA) 13.3 (12th) 1.6 24.0 (10th) Athletics
BULLPEN (tRA) -2.1 (17th) 2.1 9.0 (10th) Athletics
OVERALL (RAA) -50.7 (22nd) 8.9 29.2 (12th) ATHLETICS
Explainer

First and foremost, my hopes go out to Brandon McCarthy for a full and speedy recovery.

Now, wooooooo-boy! Get ready for some runs y'all!

The Mariners and Athletics were supposed to battle each other for third and fourth in the AL West this season. The teams were thought to be similar in talent level and type and really, they aren't that far apart. Like the Mariners, the Athletics buffer a poor offense with good run prevention. The difference is that the Athletics are just a little better pretty much everywhere. A little better in a lot of places adds up.

Right now the AL Wild Cards are

Orioles/Yankees--
Athletics --
Rays 1.5
Angels 2.5
Tigers 3.0

with the Angels, A's, Rangers set to play each other quite a bit and the Mariners playing each of them six times. The Mariners won't decide the playoffs, but the Mariners will probably play a role. I think I'm rooting for the status quo here.

The NL race is more tepid with a three-way race between the Cardinals, Pirates and Dodgers for the two spots. I don't know which I'm rooting for between not-the-Dodgers and shut-up-I-don't-have-to-root-for-the-Pirates-just-because-they've-been-terrible-forever.

By the way, the Mariners' remaining schedule is a tough one. Counting this series the Mariners' remaining opponents are:

Athletics, 6 games (home & away)
Angels, 6 games (home & away)
Rangers, 6 games (home & away)
Blue Jays, 3 games (in Toronto)
Orioles, 3 games (in Seattle)

The strive for an even .500 record is nice, but falling short of that against this slate of teams engrossed in a playoff push would be no embarrassment. I hope they make it obviously, but going 14-10 over these teams is a challenge. I'll find anything over 75 wins for the season total to be acceptable and a positive step overall.

Batter PA P/PA Slash line nBB K (sw) 1B/2B/3B/HR Sw% Ct% Qual+
F Gutierrez 31 3.8 .296/.387/.481 4 6 (5) 5 / 2 / 0 / 1 42 74 111.1
K Seager* 53 3.9 .267/.340/.489 6 7 (4) 8 / 1 / 0 / 3 42 90 175.1
T Robinson^ 44 3.6 .275/.356/.450 4 11 (8) 8 / 1 / 0 / 2 46 74 154.8
J Montero 44 3.5 .302/.295/.465 0 5 (3) 10 / 1 / 0 / 2 50 82 122.5
D Ackley* 56 3.7 .264/.304/.340 3 8 (7) 12 / 1 / 0 / 1 41 88 66.8
J Smoak^ 45 3.9 .225/.311/.250 5 10 (7) 8 / 1 / 0 / 0 43 76 93.7
E Thames* 37 4.3 .147/.216/.294 3 12 (8) 3 / 0 / 1 / 1 49 71 105.3
J Jaso* 39 3.7 .152/.282/.152 6 3 (1) 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 40 88 68.3
B Ryan 40 3.8 .154/.175/.205 1 7 (6) 4 / 2 / 0 / 0 50 83 38.4

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]

Even when John Jaso can't get hits, he gets on base at a decent clip. He's become what Dustin Ackley was already supposed to be at the plate.

Batter PA P/PA Slash line nBB SO (sw) 1B/2B/3B/HR Sw% Ct% Qual+
B Moss* 28 4.0 .370/.393/.778 1 9 (8) 5 / 2 / 0 / 3 59 55 227.7
C Carter 40 4.3 .324/.400/.703 2 13 (10) 6 / 2 / 0 / 4 48 58 205.9
S Smith* 39 3.8 .314/.385/.600 3 12 (9) 5 / 4 / 0 / 2 48 69 195.1
J Donaldson 50 4.1 .227/.360/.545 6 7 (6) 4 / 2 / 0 / 4 47 74 149.7
J Reddick* 53 3.8 .320/.340/.560 2 11 (10) 10 / 3 / 0 / 3 56 76 111.3
C Crisp^ 56 4.1 .224/.339/.449 7 8 (4) 4 / 5 / 0 / 2 41 84 81.6
S Drew* 52 4.3 .261/.327/.391 5 9 (7) 8 / 3 / 0 / 1 41 74 96.3
C Pennington^ 33 3.8 .281/.303/.406 1 8 (7) 7 / 1 / 0 / 1 49 84 151.2
D Norris 36 4.6 .167/.333/.233 6 11 (4) 3 / 2 / 0 / 0 37 87 94.7
Y Cespedes 57 3.9 .214/.228/.304 1 12 (9) 8 / 3 / 1 / 0 51 77 48.1

Yoenis Cespedes is being very Cespedes right now.

MARINERS Δ Ms ATHLETICS EDGE
INFIELD 24.2 (3rd) -0.3 13.1 (9th) Mariners
OUTFIELD 25.6 (6th) 4.1 13.8 (10th) Mariners
RBBIP 0.292 (1st) .002 0.296 (3rd) Mariners
OVERALL 49.8 (2nd) 3.8 26.9 (6th) MARINERS
Explainer

The outfield defense might now be down to third-string centerfielder Casper Wells/Trayvon Robinson. Both Michael Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez are dealing with reportedly mild groin issues, but Saunders has been off the field for a while now and nothing is ever mild with Gutierrez.

07 SEP 19:10

FELIX HERNANDEZ A.J. GRIFFIN
chart chart

A.J. Griffin was a 13th round draft pick in 2010 by the Athletics. He, by and large, was ignored on prospects lists both in 2011 and 2012. And in just over two years from signing, he's now in the Major Leagues and doing well. Baseball, man, baseball.

08 SEP 18:10

HISASHI IWAKUMA BRETT ANDERSON*
chart chart

With back to back left-handers on the mound for Oakland in Brett Anderson and Tommy Milone, I hope Eric Wedge doesn't chicken out and reach for inferior, less interesting, veteran right-handed bats over left-handed bats with promise.

However, I wouldn't so terribly mind seeing a start from Carlos Triunfel at short stop. I don't think he's better than Brendan Ryan and I don't think he'll ever be more valuable than Brendan Ryan's combined offense and defense. But Brendan Ryan has a pop up rate of a jillion, with a j, right now and having to see someone else, someone worse, play defense at short would be a nice reminder of why I tolerate Brendan Ryan's fungo bat at times.

Please stop hitting so many pop ups, Brendan! If you had a league average infield fly rate, your expected BABIP would go up by about 15 points.

09 SEP 13:10

JASON VARGAS* TOMMY MILONE*
chart chart
Reliever BF Str% nBB Ct% K(sw) GB% HR Qual- LI
T Wilhelmsen 48 58.3 9 76.3 8 (5) 48.4 1 77.4 2.4
J Kinney 44 69.0 4 77.5 9 (8) 60.0 0 42.9 1.0
C Capps 40 65.9 6 72.9 11 (9) 47.8 0 110.6 0.8
L Luetge* 34 64.2 4 75.0 6 (4) 37.5 1 136.0 0.5
S Pryor 28 61.6 3 75.4 7 (5) 22.2 3 212.8 1.3
C Furbush* 24 60.0 2 73.8 4 (4) 33.3 0 90.3 1.3

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]

Oliver Perez dropped off the list as he's only faced 17 batters in the last four weeks. I wonder if that's a conscious decision as Perez is an impending free agent. Perhaps Eric Wedge and the Mariners front office wishes to see more of relievers who are under team control past this winter. I wonder how much of an effort will be made to retain Perez, he's certainly been a quality addition and it would surprise me if he cost a lot, unless some team wanted to splurge in the hopes he could be reclaimed as a starter.

Reliever BF Str% nBB Ct% K(sw) GB% HR Qual- LI
R Cook 38 63.6 4 70.3 15 (11) 63.2 0 77.9 1.0
S Doolittle* 34 70.1 1 81.4 11 (10) 31.8 0 96.6 1.5
T Blackley* 34 68.1 3 78.2 3 (1) 46.4 0 66.3 0.4
G Balfour 33 66.9 4 77.8 10 (6) 42.1 0 80.8 1.4
P Neshek 33 72.8 1 73.2 8 (7) 20.8 1 88.8 0.7
E Scribner 31 65.9 2 85.5 6 (6) 56.5 1 72.7 0.6
J Blevins* 29 56.8 3 86.5 3 (2) 39.1 1 140.8 0.8

Sean Doolittle is fascinating. Here's what I wrote back in June:

He was a hitter; until like just this year. He was injured a bunch in 2009 and 2010 and despite not being a bad hitter up to that point, he converted to pitching during the instructionals last year. So then he throws 26 innings of relief spread across High-A, Double-A and Triple-A and strikes out [48], walks eight, plunks three and gives up all of eight hits, none of them homers. And now he's up in the Majors and doing this and doing that almost exclusively with his mid-90s fastball, which he's been throwing greater than 80% of the time.

And he's still doing it! Even more so now! He throws a fastball almost 87% of the time and he's up to 47 strikeouts and seven walks in the Majors, almost exactly matching his Minor League numbers. There's a difference though and it's in the hits. His BABIP in the minors was .229; with Oakland it is currently .395. Doolittle has an ERA of 3.62 and a FIP of 0.94. It's hilarious.

Series Drink: Flying Bike 7-Spoke Stout
Do you like to home brew? How'd you like a chance to have your recipes turned into a commercial beer? Even if you don't home brew, if you're interested in beer, you might consider checking out Flying Bike, Washington's first (and only America's second, best I can tell) co-op brewery. What's more fun than co-ops? Co-ops with beer!

Their home page is linked above and there's also a facebook page. Their second beer (brewed in conjunction with Northwest Brewing) is making its way out into the wild now.

Disclosure: I am a member. I get pretty much nothing for shilling, however if you do investigate and find it worth your while/time/money to join, I'd appreciate you listing my name under the "referred by" field.

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