It was remarked during the game thread that this must be what it was like to face us over the last few years. After giving it some thought, yeah, totally. We sucked. Except instead of avoiding the sweep by robbing a guy of a go-ahead homer, Jeremy Reed would've broken his wrist and we would've sulked our way to four straight losses and an immediate future of a whole lotta Willie Ballgame. So in conclusion, it was like facing us, only without that extra something special to really highlight the bad.
Biggest Contribution: Jose Lopez, +34.5%
Biggest Suckfest: Ryan Feierabend, -11.5%
Most Important At Bat: Lopez "double", +33.2% (really a triple)
Most Important Pitch: Diaz homer #1, -21.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -11.6%
Total Contribution by Position Players: +50.3%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +11.3%
In lieu of a standard recap (and, really, how much is there to say about another Ranger whitewashing?), I want to talk a little bit about ball in play distribution for the Mariner offense. Not because there's anything groundbreaking in the data, but because MLB.com's been hosting hit charts for a while now, and people should really start putting them to use.
For a while now I've been thinking about Kenji Johjima's status as one of the most dead-pull power hitters I've ever seen (in that virtually all of his home runs are identical shots to left field). After summoning up the energy, I decided to go into the hit charts and see if he's really as much of a pull hitter as it seems like he is, relative to his teammates. To do so, I cut the field up into six identical zones and counted the number of balls hit into each (balls that stayed in the infield are excluded, because it's impossible to tell each individual one apart in the hit chart). I then calculated the %frequency of hitting into each zone and made a graph, where the far left represents balls that're pulled and the far right represents balls that're shot down the other line. To make everything even, I flipped the data for lefties around. I couldn't include Vidro, being a switch-hitter and all. The results (as of yesterday afternoon, before the last two games):
I know it's cluttered, but there you go. A few things that stand out:
(1) Ichiro loves him some left field. Of balls that've reached the outfield so far, 65% have gone the other way, and he hits the ball down the RF line less often than any other hitter on the team. What it comes down to is essentially that, if he pulls a ball in the air, he's probably using his power swing.
(2) Johjima really is the most extreme pull hitter on the team. 26% of his balls in play (again, out of the infield) land in zone 1 (1/6th of the field), and 69% of his balls in play land somewhere in the left half. Second-most extreme pull hitter: Jose Lopez, at 22% and 66%, respectively.
(3) Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson have been hitting the ball all over the place.
(4) I'm sure it's just an early season fluke, but sweet Jesus does Betancourt love the Left Field Power Alley of Death.
Be advised, of course, that these are results based on less than a third of the season, so small sample size caveats apply. I haven't bothered running the 2006 numbers, with one exception:
Last year's Raul Ibanez = much more pull-happy than this year's Raul Ibanez. Power, of course, comes from pulling the ball. We may not know for sure exactly why it's the case, but one thing's for sure - Raul has had a considerably slower bat this season than we've seen in the past. Add this to the mountain of evidence.
Ryan Feierabend, just like Jarrod Washburn, is going to put up a bunch of starts where you feel like he's been really effective and then you look at the scoreboard and see four or five runs and you wonder when they happened. Flyball pitchers who pound the strike zone can give up runs in a hurry, and that's exactly what Feierabend's done so far in his first two starts. I wouldn't be too discouraged, though, because he's not going to give up a homer every game. In general terms, I don't think he's ready to be a Major League starting pitcher yet, but the requirement for one to be ready to pitch for Seattle is a lot lower than it would be for pretty much any other non-Texas team in baseball, so the longer he's up, the better we are.