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The 2014 Seattle Mariners lineup consisting of reincarnated players from the first half of the 20th century

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The Mariners offense has not been so good this year. How do they compare to players from the early 20th century?

Black and white images are classier.
Black and white images are classier.
Mike Ehrmann

This post is pretty pointless and has only a tentative tie-in to your 2014 Seattle Mariners, but that's okay because the season is mostly over and what else are you going to do with your time? Go cry into a malted at the diner? I thought not.

Briefly, I looked at the quadruple slash lines (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS) for the different spots in the Mariners batting order this season (batting order numbers 1-9, not player positions) and went and found their closest player comps for batters with at least 800 PA between 1900 and 1949. These comparisons are listed below. I don't know exactly why I did this (I thought it might be interesting, but it's late and I'm still reeling from Felix getting smacked around, so who knows), but I did. If it helps to pique your interest, you can think of the 2014 Seattle Mariners as reincarnations of these men. I've included a brief history of these old(er)-timey players; some of these guys turned out to be pretty darned interesting. Enjoy!

Batting First

2014 Mariners: .249/.291/.326/.617 (Austin Jackson and Endy Chavez have been at the top of the lineup most frequently this season; it's great when your leadoff hitter has a sub-.300 OBP, yeah?)

Reincarnation: .247/.299/.320/.619 (Leo "the Lip" Durocher)

Leodurochergoudeycard_medium

Wikipedia informs me that Durocher was "a regular, if unspectacular, player" whom Babe Ruth nicknamed "The All-American Out." A light-hitting, defensive shortstop, he appeared in over 1600 games between 1925 and 1945, compiling a whopping fWAR of 4.8. During his career, Durocher was accused of passing bad checks to finance his expensive tastes in clothes and nightlife activities. What a scoundrel! After his playing career, he went on to manage in the majors for almost 30 years. He was inducted (as a manger) into Cooperstown in 1994 and is credited with coming up with the saying "Nice guys finish last."

Batting Second

2014 Seattle Mariners: .224/.259/.347/.607 (These appearances are predominately from Dustin Ackley and James Jones.)

Reincarnation: .239/.265/.341/.606 (Hobe Ferris)

Hobe_ferris_medium

Good ol' Hobe has the distinction of possessing the lowest OBP for any major league player with at least 5000 PA (it makes so much sense that his numbers are comparable with the second spot in the M's lineup). Ferris was a defensive-minded second baseman who appeared in almost 1300 games during the first decade of the 20th century, playing for the Boston Americans and the St. Louis Browns. In 1903, he led the American League in games played (141) and helped his team win the inaugural World Series.


Batting Third

2014 Seattle Mariners: .317/.383/.468/.851 (Almost always Robinson Cano.)

Reincarnation: .321/.386/.474/.860 (Hazen Shirley "Kiki" Cuyler)

Kikicuylergoudeycard_mediumKiki Cuyler was an offensively-talented outfielder with plus speed. His big league career spanned 18 seasons (1921-1938) and he appeared in almost 1900 games on his way to amassing an fWAR of 52.9. In 1925, Kiki came in second in the NL MVP race, losing by a small margin to Rogers Hornsby, on his way to leading the Pirates to the World Series title. Over his career, Cuyler led the league in stolen bases four times and batted .330 or higher six times. In 1968, the Veterans Committee elected KiKi into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Batting Fourth

2014 Seattle Mariners: .222/.297/.358/.655 (This has been split fairly evenly between Kendrys Morales, Kyle Seager, and Corey Hart; an OPS near .650 in the cleanup spot seems so, so sad. Seager's productivity was more than cancelled out by those other two bums.)

Reincarnation: .234/.301/.352/.653 (Jim Hegan)

Jim_hegan_1953_mediumJim first made the leap to the big leagues at the ripe ol' age of 20 in 1941, but missed the '43-'45 seasons due to being called into military service. Upon his return to baseball, he played for fifteen more years and was selected to the All-Star team six times. Jim was not known to be a particularly impressive hitter, but he was recognized as one of the best defensive catchers of the period. Bob Feller and Bob Lemon both credited Hegan with some of their success. In 1948, he garnered a few MVP votes and helped lead the Indians pitching staff to the lowest ERA in the league and Cleveland to its last World Series championship.

Batting Fifth

2014 Seattle Mariners: .232/.287/.389/.676 (Seager accounts for half of these appearances; the rest belong to sundry, feeble-batted Mariners)

Reincarnation: .253/.294/.380/.674 (Harry Craft)

Harry_craft_1940_play_ball_card_mediumA right-handed center fielder, Craft was a mediocre hitter but a plus defender. (His range factor and fielding percentage both place him among the top 100 defensive center fielders of all time.) Although his career lasted just six seasons (1937-1942), he was a member of Cincinnati's 1940 World Series team. He joined the navy after the 1942 season, but when he returned from active duty his baseball skills had fallen off and he was unable to play in the majors. After his playing days, he spent seven years managing in the big leagues and was the skipper for the inaugural team in Houston in 1962.


Batting Sixth

2014 Seattle Mariners: .230/.303/.379/.682 (Logan Morrison, Seager, and Mike Zunino split these appearances fairly evenly; Mike actually has the strongest performance from this spot with an OPS above .800.)

Reincarnation: .242/.311/.368/.679 (Chuck Workman)

Workman played the bulk of his major league games between 1943 and 1945, likely only getting the nod because so many other players were being drafted/joining the military. Workman's best season (i.e., his only good season) came in 1945 as a member of the Boston Braves. He was second in the league in home runs (25) and clobbered a dinger every ~23 PA (at the time was fairly unworldly; the average player hit a HR every 94 PA). Unfortunately, because he was transitioned from the outfield to third base that season, he also committed 30 errors. With numbers like those, he would've fit right in with the 2013 version of the Mariners! After a rough 1946 season, he was demoted to the minor leagues where he toiled on, playing the game that he loved until 1951. (Chuck didn't make it on to a baseball card that has fallen into the public domain, so there is no picture of him here, which is too bad because he's got quite the baby face.)

Batting Seventh

2014 Seattle Mariners: .245/.295/.377/.672 (Somewhat surprisingly, Dustin Ackley has the most appearances batting seventh, with 168, but three other Mariners have more than 60 PA.)

Reincarnation: .247/.299/.366/.665 (Lee King)

Lee_king_1922_mediumKing played for three different teams between 1916 and 1922, appearing in 411 games. During his last season, he was a utility man for the World Series champion New York Giants, though he only appeared in 20 games and managed just six hits that year. He's also from Hundred, WV, which seems like a neat name for a town or something. Finally, Jeremy Reed and King have the fifth highest similarity scores (on b-ref) with one another. Neat.

Batting Eighth

2014 Seattle Mariners: .263/.333/.415/.748 (Zunino, Brad Miller, and Ackley have each received ~100+ PA in this position; the eighth spot has been the third most productive position in the lineup this season, by a fairly significant margin, and I just don't understand baseball sometimes.)

Reincarnation: .259/.343/.400/.744 (Frankie Hayes)

Frankie_hayes_mediumHayes was a catcher for 14 seasons and appeared in 1311 games behind the dish (for comparison, Dan Wilson played in 1281 games). A six-time All-Star, Hayes was considered to be one of the top catchers in baseball for the bulk of his career, but he was stuck on the dreadful Philadelphia Athletics during his prime and never made it to the postseason. Hayes was the definition of a workhorse behind the plate, once catching 312 consecutive games (!!!), which is a major league record that still stands.

Batting Ninth

2014 Seattle Mariners: .213/.253/.322/.576 (Miller has been stuck at the bottom of the lineup most often, but these numbers have been pulled down even further by appearances from Sucre and the really-bad-at-hitting version of Zunino.)

Reincarnation: .213/.254/.324/.577 (Paul "Dizzy" Trout)

Dizzy_trout_medium

During his 15 years as a major leaguer, Dizzy Trout accrued an impressive 47.9 fWAR... as a pitcher. Nonetheless, as a batter, he is the strongest comparison for the Mariners number nine hitters this season (these numbers actually match the most among all nine of these comparisons). As a pitcher, Dizzy was no slouch with the bat, hitting 20 home runs on the way to a wRC+ of 54 over more than 1000 PA. In 1944, Dizzy pitched 352.1 innings (!!!), which was 40 more than the next busiest pitcher. That year was his best as he earned 27 wins and just lost out on the AL MVP award to Hal Newhouser (232 to 236 points). Dizzy's son Steve Trout pitched (briefly and unsuccessfully) for the Mariners in 1988 and 1989. So many coincidences in baseball!

- - -

So there you have it. ~1600 words about nine men, some of whom you may have never heard about before. I hope that you enjoyed reading about these old dudes and did not consider this a complete waste o' time. I do really enjoy looking at the history of the game and its players; baseball has changed so much while at the same time remaining virtually the same.

In any case, M's hitters this season can be accurately represented by: one very good, accomplished hitter; one slugging corner infielder; one offensively-talented catcher; five defensive-minded middle infielders/outfielders/catchers/utility men; and a pitcher. I wish that this didn't make sense to me, but unfortunately it all seems right on point. Hopefully the Mariners can address some of their offensive issues during the offseason and come back as a more complete team in 2015. Go M's!

*All of the images used in this post are in the public domain and have been imported from wikimedia.org