One of the inescapable buzzwords brought to the Mariners by new general manager Jerry Dipoto has been "Control the Zone". The idea/philosophy has largely been shrouded in mystery, and it doesn't appear the front office is inclined to let fans see behind the curtains anytime soon. However, in an article a few days ago for the Seattle Times, Ryan Divish was able to grab a quote from Dipoto that revealed, we think, at least a portion of it:
In a productive year, the tally should yield a positive number. A year ago, Mariners hitters drew 478 walks and struck out 1,336 times, and the pitchers issued 491 walks and struck out 1,283 batters. Following the equation, the team scored minus-66 on controlling the zone.
In the Mariners’ 39 years of existence, Servais said only once did a team with a winning record have a negative number following this equation — the 2009 team that posted a minus-163 and finished 85-77. That team also had a minus-52 run differential.
This is something fun, and easy to track, so we are going to track it. We are calling it, simply, Jerry's Equation. In addition to a chart, WPA analysis, and questions the post right after the game will now include a break down of how the Mariners fared in the following equation:
(Mariner hitters BB + Mariner pitchers K) - (Opponent hitter BB + Opponent pitcher K)
If the number achieved is a positive one we'll mark that up as a "win" on the day for the Mariners in Jerry's Equation. At the end of the year we'll see how close the team's actual won/loss record is to their record in winning this simple metric. It's easy, and something we're excited to add. After two games, the Mariners are 1-1 in Jerry's Equation.
Please note that this is NOT something we consider to be a serious, groundbreaking, definitive way of tracking overall team quality, nor are we making claims to its predictive quality. Like WPA and the chart itself this is just some light, breezy data to ponder and discuss while we finish recapping the game.
Likewise I want to make it clear we do not believe that Jerry's Equation reflects more than a small part of "Control the Zone". Three of the Mariners' four home runs last night were on the first pitch of the at bat, and anyone who has played baseball at a competitive nature knows that you have to be ready to hit good pitches. It's clear that there is more nuance and depth to the overriding philosophy than just "Strikeouts: good for pitchers. Walk: good for hitters."
We have been spending a significant amount of the time this week trying to research and piece together the various tenants of CtZ, if for no other reason than to better understand the ideas and philosophies held close by the people now running the team we love. My hope is that this research will bear some significant fruit in the coming weeks. For now, we're going to start with Jerry's Equation, and have a little fun with it.
As always, we welcome your questions and ideas in the comments. Goms.