June 20th. The Mariners went ahead of the Angels 8-1 in the 4th inning with Felix Hernandez pitching. Fangraphs had the Mariners' Win Expectancy at 97.7%. They lost 10-9.
July 9th. Mariners take the lead 5-1 against the Red Sox and max out WE at 92.2% in the 2nd inning only lose 11-8.
And of course last week in Boston. The Mariners had a 99.4% WE in the 8th inning and melted down to lose.
I list those horrible games because at times I feel like as a Mariners fan we only get to see one side of the improbable victory coin. Although only one defeat the memory of these kinds of losses emotionally count as much more. They hang with us and haunt our memories to the point that anytime the team that no lead lets us relax, feeling assured of victory. This feeling hasn't been an issue recently because A) the Mariners have had some above average bullpens and B) the Mariners never get large leads.
Well those days are over. The Mariner bullpen is largely a tire fire of Springfieldian proportions and the offense is no longer incapable of scoring three runs in a game. This is the way that normal below average teams play baseball. And good news! They occasionally win those crazy games too! I don't know why the Mariners keep doing it against the Blue Jays* but given that our friends from the North seem set upon replacing Red Sox Nation as the most obnoxious visiting fan base it's certainly a tradition I can get behind.
The Mariners played poorly, gave up a large lead and then slowly and methodically came back and won. We thought it could happen and now it has. This is a summary sentence.
*Unrelated but from the same game.
- Let's talk a bit about Michael Morse. The motivating factor for Morse's acquisition was to provide home run power. That's good. Home runs are awesome. They are one of the three true outcomes for a reason. Hitting a baseball really hard and far tends to take the luck portion out of the game. But, duh, baseball players need more skills than strength and Morse is below average to below replacement at literally every other aspect of the game. A list of basebally skills and Michael Morse's performance in them.
Health: Has played in 64 of 114 games.
Getting on base: OBP of .300 is 193rd of 242 players with 250+ PA.
Baserunning: -2.0 runs below average.
Putting the ball in play: 25.7 K%, 37th highest in the game.
Fielding: -9.8 UZR, completely fails eye test.
If we pretend that a baseball player is the sum total of our lifetime's investments Michael Morse is like taking every dollar and putting it in tech stock, or housing, or any one corner of the investment world. I don't know a lot about investing but I do know that it's a good idea to spread your money around, partially to limit risk. That way if something goes haywire (Morse has 3 HR in his last 150 PA) you aren't totally screwed.
Michael Morse in 2013 has a lower SLG (.444) than John Jaso did in 2012 (.456). What a bad trade.
- Aaron Harang. He's been bad! In numerous and varied ways! For a good portion of the season it appeared that his runs allowed would start to diminish to the point where it reflected his peripheral stats better. Instead Harang, being a stodgy vet set in the more traditional ways of evaluating pitching has worsened his peripherals to the point where they more accurately reflect his ERA. Harang's FIP after today's 2 IP, 7 R, 2 HR, 0 K, 3 BB line is up to 4.86. There's whispers of his rotation spot being jeopardized. That's well and good but I don't see any likely candidate to replace him. Brandon Maurer just threw 73 pitches today with more balls than strikes. James Paxton isn't ready. Unless the team is going to go for the full Zunino again and call up Taijuan Walker the bet is Harang is around until at least roster expansion in September.
- Justin Smoak has a 130 wRC+. His triple slash since April is .291/.390/.500. He worked a 3-1 count today and hit as hard as he can hit it from the right side to tie the game at 7-7. That can work as a joke since Justin Smoak hitting the ball as hard as he can still resulted in the ball not being a home run. Power is never going to be his best skill. But, I think, maybe, perhaps, it's possible that I could foresee that Justin Smoak is going to work out. Baseball is the weirdest.
- My mother-in-law has a habit of regularly bringing my kids toys. The thrill of opening the package sends my children into some sort of low level Christmas style toy haze that involves them playing like maniacs for approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours. Afterwards the toy is typically broken and never played with again.
I can't help look at those broken toys without thinking about baseball closers. As fans we get excited when a closer with seemingly unhittable stuff finds new success and we let ourselves get caught up in the moment. Closers often get fun intro songs, nicknames, even Cy Young awards. But we all know that 97% will be cast aside and broken within 1-2 years and we'll all move on to whatever the next shiny, 95+ MPH fastball wielding reliever we can find. It was Putz (woo), it was Morrow, it was Wilhelmsen, etc.
Ah, screw it. Life is short. Do The Farquhar you guys.