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Offensive Offense

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The Last Seven Games
4-3, 27 RS, 19 RA

That's some excellent run prevention, but some lousy lousy offense. They've looked terrible, but have they actually been terrible, or have they been unlucky or faced good pitching? You don't need to face good pitchers to have faced good pitching, that's important to note. Look at Miguel Batista's last start. In an effort to get a better handle on the offensive woes the last seven games, I went back through the box scores and noted some key, to me, numbers. Here's a rundown with the league average number presented in parenthesis:

-Opposing pitchers have thrown just under 62% of pitches for strikes during that span (just over 62%).
-Mariner hitters have swung at and missed at 6.34% of pitches (7.90%).
-Mariner hitters have seen 3.50 pitches/PA (3.78).
-Mariner hitter's BABIP is .260 (.294).
-Mariner hitters have put up a 49/35/16 GB/FB/LD line (46/35/19).

The Mariners haven't been facing, on average, noticeably poor control. What they have been doing is putting the bat on the ball at a better clip. That is part of what is driving the shorter at bats, but certainly not all. Seattle is definitely being more aggressive at the plate. This could be a result of a shift (or regression) in philosophy or it could be a result of pitchers getting ahead on the first pitch more often. This is what seems to be the case with Jose Lopez the last few games. He's watched the first pitch go by in his last 21 plate appearances and pitchers are already starting to groove that first pitch in there, putting him at an 0-1 hole nearly every at bat. Once in a 0-1 count, Lopez is forced to become more aggressive and, facing pitchers who aren't missing bats, this is going to result in shorter at bats.

If the hitters aren't drawing walks and also aren't missing the ball leading to strikeouts, that leaves one main result; putting the ball in play. And that's where they're getting killed right now. That .260 BABIP, a whopping 34 points below league average. Right now, that's working out to the difference of an entire hit per game, or the equivalent of about 0.8 runs/game or 5-6 runs during the total span. 32 or 33 runs would put us at 4.57-4.71 runs per game, which is respectable, projecting out to about 760 runs/season.

Is the BABIP all fluke? No. As you can see from the final point, they are hitting less line drives and in fact, their BABIP-LD% rate of .100 is only a little under the league average rate of .104. But that's not the most robust measurement and given that all the non-line drives are in the form of ground balls, you wouldn't expect to see the same penalty as if the team were getting flyball-happy.

If there's a conclusion to be drawn, it's this. The offense has looked bad this past week (it's worth noting that apparently many of them are sick), but the underlying stats suggest that they've been about half unlucky and half bad. Their approach does seem to have changed, for the worst, but it's too small a sample to say anything. Nevertheless, sign Bonds. Sign him now.