How, exactly, does one get hired as a general manager?
It's a question that many would love to see answered. Obviously, you need some experience working in baseball, whether as a scout or executive or front office employee. A playing career wouldn't hurt, but it's by no means a pre-requisite. And you'll need to wow everybody in your interviews.
Jerry Dipoto checked off all these boxes when he was hired last September. But most importantly, he brings something that has been lacking from Mariners teams since 2009: a clear, defined vision for what he wants his team to be.
"Control the Zone" means walking more and striking out less, and doing the opposite when you're pitching. We're 1/6 of the way through the season, so how do the M's stack up thus far?
The table below shows the Mariners' rankings in hitters' BB% and K% in each of the last five seasons, as well as pure numbers:
And this table shows the same thing, but for the pitchers:
It's pretty clear that, so far, there's been a pretty big shift, especially from the 2015 numbers. Mariner hitters are walking more and striking out less than any of the last four seasons. On the mound, this is the first time in the same period that the M's are ranked in the top 10 in BB% as well as K%.
It'll be interesting to monitor this going forward, but the acquisition of players like Nori Aoki fit the C-the-Z mold to a T. Though Aoki's average has been disappointingly low, at an anemic .224, his walk rate of 10.5% and K% of just 13.2% (which is best on the team) greatly help the team's numbers.
Aoki also seems like a prime bounce-back candidate due to his incredible consistency. He hit between .285 and .288 in each of his four seasons in the bigs, and his current K% would actually be a career-high rate for him. In addition, his batting average on balls in play is just .262, a far cry from his career average of .301. If he can raise his line-drive rate, which is currently 15.7%, and lower his way-too-high ground ball rate, look for a resurgence.
Most of Dipoto's other acquisitions (excluding Adam Lind, who has been simply dreadful) have been pretty solid, especially...
Dae-Ho is basically just fun to watch. He simply hasn't played enough to make sweeping generalizations about his talent or what to expect, but in the meantime, I'm just going to watch that video on a loop and revel in everything about it - the sheer excitement in the announcers' voices, the pure beauty of the hit itself, the high fives that Dae-Ho collects on his way into the dugout. It's all so spectacular.
There will be a time, much later, when things are not going quite as planned. That's baseball. There will also be a time for more serious evaluation of Dipoto's plan. Again, 27 games is not exactly a lot.
But in the meantime, come and celebrate. This team is fun and this team is doing exactly what Jerry Dipoto & Co. promised. The hitters are being patient, the pitchers are striking guys out, and the wins are coming.