This post wasn't provoked by anything in particular, and for many of you it's all just review. Still, it's important stuff to know, and there's no better way to teach than by repeating yourself, because repeating yourself is the best way to teach.
- Last year's Mariners weren't a 640-run team. Last year's Mariners weren't a 640-run team any more than the 2007 Mariners were an 88-win team. I know, I know; the '07 Mariners did win 88 games, and the '09 Mariners did score 640 runs. But runs scored and wins recorded over a 162-game sample aren't great measures of ability, and more than what a team actually did, what we're interested in is how a team should have done. Many of you have heard this already, and I'll skip the math, but accounting for things like an anomalous performance with runners in scoring position, the '09 Mariners come out as something like a 670-680 run offense. Doing the same on the other end, by the way, yields a 660-670 run pitching/defense total.
That 640-692 run differential and 75-87 Pythagorean record? Ignore them. They're misleading. If you pay attention to wOBA for and wOBA against, you'll gain a much clearer picture. Our offense wasn't as bad as it seemed.
- You shouldn't use the previous season's numbers as the foundation of any projection going forward. I mean, you can, but it's not as simple as, say, adding Kotchman and subtracting Branyan. You want to adjust for things like, I dunno, David Aardsma's home run luck or Ichiro's inflated BABIP, and when you're taking last year's numbers and tweaking them to fit your expectations of future performance, you're basically starting over from scratch, which is the right way to do it. As you head into a new year, you should forget about what happened in the last one on a team level and create a team forecast by forecasting each individual player and adding them up. Combine a failure to do that with a stupid GM and you end up with a $48m pile of crap.
- Along similar lines, a popular argument seems to be that Cliff Lee won't represent a huge improvement, because Jarrod Washburn had a 2.64 ERA over 133 innings. That's all well and good about Washburn, but we don't care about him anymore. As soon as the 2009 season ended, we erased the whiteboard and drew up a new roster of players in the organization, and it's for that roster that Lee will be a huge boost. When Lee came in, he wasn't replacing Jarrod Washburn. He was replacing Doug Fister or Jason Vargas. That's the only improvement that matters. By raw performance, Lee won't necessarily make the rotation way better when compared to 2009, but he will make the rotation way better when compared to what it looked like without him.
- As always, ignore anyone that focuses too heavily on the Mariner offense when discussing the 2010 season. No, our offense probably won't light up many scoreboards, but for the billionth time, we only care about overall value, and in terms of overall value, we're looking all right.
Plus, in case you've forgotten, here are a few 2009 Mariner splits:
Catcher: .224/.282/.354, .280 wOBA
Shortstop: .231/.262/.335, .262 wOBA
Third Base: .247/.294/.349, .292 wOBA
Left Field: .219/.276/.333, .268 wOBA
The M's may not improve at catcher, and they'll get worse at first base, but they're likely to get way better at SS, 3B, and LF. Last year's offense wasn't as bad as its raw runs scored total, and this year's offense has more ability. Unless someone gets hurt, the situation won't be as dire as many fear.
I trust that you can understand how this bullet point and the previous one don't contradict each other.