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Examining one of the weirdest stats of the Mariners’ season

Day and night, Ryon Healy seems to lose his mind at night.

Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners
True strikeout hours
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

In advance of Wednesday’s day game in Oakland, I have taken it upon myself to launch an important investigation into one of the wilder phenomena surrounding the 2018 Seattle Mariners.

No, it has nothing to do with the team’s record in tight games, or suboptimal run differential, or the way they forgot how to play baseball for most of July.

While rooted on the field, this transcends anything that happens on a baseball diamond. It truly has the ability to derail a player’s life away from the game, and is probably something we should be extremely careful in addressing, as not to make light of a serious condition. It is a condition that many of us deal with, but few willingly talk about, and I hope that bringing this conversation into the public light can help those of us who struggle with similar problems.

I think Ryon Healy might be afraid of the dark.

Now, before I go any further, I need all of you to understand that I’m writing this from a place of care. I want Ryon to seek help in solving this issue, if in fact it is an issue at all. For those of you shouting, “You’re projecting!”, I’ll have you know that I actually do quite well in the dark. My life is shrouded in darkness, and I’d typically rather start doing something at 9 p.m. than 9 a.m.

This is all about Ryon. Take a peek at his stats in night games compared to day games.

Ryon Healy Splits

Night 68 273 55 11 28 8 56 0.209 0.234 0.361 0.596 0.223 61
Day 33 126 35 11 31 8 30 0.299 0.349 0.632 0.982 0.316 167
Data courtesy of Baseball-Reference

As you can see, the Mariners’ bro-mander in chief is a comically better hitter around lunchtime than he is after nightfall. In less than half the amount of games, Healy has the same number of daytime home runs and walks as he does in night games. While never a patient hitter, Healy’s drawn bases on balls in 6.3% of his afternoon plate appearances, a figure that presents itself a lot better next to the 2.9% clip he has in the evening.

The improved plate discipline could suggest that Healy literally sees the ball better when the sun is out. This is directly opposite to a problem Josh Hamilton famously had while playing for the Rangers. Hamilton tried to correct his shortcomings with special contact lenses, which immediately made me Google the MLB’s policy on night vision goggles. The results were inconclusive. Still, the same amount of walks in less than half as many plate appearances creates some actual concerns about Healy’s ability to pick up the ball when playing under the lights.

On top of that, the endlessly huggable Healy is having some alarmingly bad luck during starry hours. His jovial disposition already ruled out Ryon being a vampire or werewolf, and his foibles during the night only confirms this. A BABIP nearly 100 points higher in the sunshine raises questions about the moon putting a curse on Ryon during his youth, or some sort of witchery that doomed him to eternal failure under the cloak of darkness. His 2018 day-night splits are mostly in line with his career ones too, which show Ryon as a .250/.279/.409 night man and a .302/.340/.574 day man.

The only way to sincerely get to the bottom of this would be to ask Healy himself, but until then I will not rule out a crushing fear of darkness as the crux of his dilemma. Given the nature of backup players in Major League Baseball, Healy could see a lot of action in day games now that he’s been relegated to bench duties. Getaway days are tough; they also represent logical off-days for Kyle Seager should the M’s want to try Canó or Healy at the hot corner.

No matter what’s giving Ryon the late-night spooks, the Mariners are running out of games as the regular season hurtles toward its conclusion. Playing the former Oregon Duck exclusively in the early ones ensures the highest chance of victory. After all, he’s 67 percent better than the average hitter during standard work hours, and 39 percent worse during baseball work hours. Those numbers, as peculiar as they might be, are hard to ignore for a team that needs every win possible.