Does July 18th, 2014 ring a bell with anyone? It should for some of you. July 18th was the first game back after the All-Star break. It was Jered Weaver vs. Hisashi Iwakuma. It was a game that would last for 16 innings instead of nine. It was a game where Lookout Landing saw 2,672 comments over two different gamethreads.
It was also the worst batting performance by any Mariner all season.
Now, let us be fair to 'ol Sergio Miller who unceremoniously won this award. This is going strictly off of win probability added (or, in this case detracted). There were a few other pretty dubious showings at the plate this past season. Mike Zunino garnered the golden sombrero twice last season. Kendrys Morales, Cole Gillespie and Robinson Cano each ground into multiple double plays in the same game. Failures at the plate later in the season might seem a bit more glaring.
WPA is limited in its scope, because it is talking about the impact of that one missed swing or hit only in regards of that one game. So, despite everything above, Brad Miller wins, because his failures at the plate came at inopportune times. Now that the season has worn off and we can laugh at such things, let's take a look at the game and his competition.
First off, here are the five worst performances of the year.
The fact that Mike Zunino is in two of the top five isn't a surprise at all. Zunino demonstrated both the best and the worst that comes from a boom or bust swinger. What is almost most surprising is that three of the worst WPAs by Mariners hitters came in the same game. If you factor in the game went into 16 innings before the Mariners eventually fell, it makes sense. There was a lot of opportunity for failure in that game.
This is how Miller fared in each bat that day:
- 3rd, no one on: Struck out looking
- 5th, man on second: Struck out swinging
- 7th, man on second: RBI single, eventually scored
- 9th, no one on: flied out
- 11th, man on second: lined into double play to end inning
- 13th, man on third and first, struck out looking to end inning
- 16th, no one on: singled to right, caught stealing second
That is a full blown oof of a day. Also, that is baseball. Some days you can be the best player on the team, and then the next day you might be the most detrimental. It isn't also like he is fully to blame either. Zunino and Seager were equally at fault with their missed opportunities.
Sometimes it is hard to take for granted just how much is on the line, especially in a 16-inning game like that. In that game, there were 126 opportunities for the WPA to adjust. Of those, only 30 had a leverage index of 1.00 or lower. A LI of 1.00 essentially means an average ho-hum situation in the game. 75 percent of that game was played in a tenser manner.
Poor Miller also had the misfortune of coming up in some of the most tense situations in the game. In the top of the 13th with two on and two outs, Miller's strike out on a full count came with a LI of 4.88. When he lined into the pitcher in the 11th, that came with a LI of 3.26.
None of this really means anything other than baseball players have resolves of steel. After the 11th inning, my confidence would've crumbled like a dried out cake. And let's be fair to Miller, this one game doesn't show anything other than how he struggled with the circumstances given. In other games, Miller excelled with the circumstances given.
On June 20, he hit clobbered a solo home run to give the Mariners the lead over the Kansas City Royals in the top of the ninth.
Later in the year, on September 8, he hit a two-run triple in the eighth to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead.
So Mr. Miller, I hope you were able to put the events of July 18 behind you. Because days like July 18 happen to all baseball players, some more than others. But again, baseball is just a weird game of weird circumstances that sometimes you have control over and sometimes you don't.