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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 4, 2009 at 10:12 AM

Fun with numbers: Mariners at the one-third pole

Yesterday was the Mariners 54th game of the season, meaning that precisely one-third of the season has passed.

For mathematically challenged folks like me, that’s always a convenient time to extrapolate numbers and project them for the full 162-game season. The reason: All you have to do is multiple by three, which I can handle. That formula doesn’t work for averages, however. Even I can figure out that if you multiply Ichiro’s average by three, he’d wind up hitting 1.059, and I don’t think that’s possible, even if he runs his hitting streak to 135 games.

I know projections can be a fool’s errand. Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres, while a fabulous, under-appreciated player, is probably not going to hit 67 homers; Evan Longoria is probably not going to drive in 162 runs; Roy Halladay is probably not going to win 27 games.

But one-third of the season is a long-enough stretch to get a sense for what kind of year guys are having.

So here goes (I didn’t do the catcher position because Kenji Johjima’s two stints on the DL and Rob Johnson’s sporadic playing time would skew the results):

HITTING

Ichiro: .353 average, .386 on-base percentage, .480 slugging percentage, .866 OPS (on-base plus slugging), 66 runs, 612 at-bats, 216 hits, 27 doubles, 3 triples, 15 homers, 48 RBI, 30 walks, 48 strikeouts, 27 stolen bases.

Comment: Ichiro is right on target for his ninth straight 200-hit season despite missing eight games while on the DL with an ulcer. The OPS would represent his second-highest of his career, and just three points behind the .869 in 2004, the year he set the single-season hits record. The low run total is indicative mostly of his teammate’s failure to drive him in.

Russ Branyan:: .319 average, .421 on-base, .614 slugging, 1.036 OPS, 498 at-bats, 96 runs, 159 hits, 39 doubles, 0 triples, 36 homers, 75 RBI, 81 walks, 150 strikeouts, 6 stolen bases.

Comment: Branyan is having a spectacular breakout season in every aspect. So spectacular, in fact, that he may have written his ticket out of town. His trade value is increasing by the day as he proves he can hit lefties (.304) and is not the boom-or-bust strikeout machine that was his reputation.

Endy Chavez: .283 average, .331 on-base percentage, .355 slugging percentage, .686 OPS, 414 at-bats, 45 runs, 117 hits, 6 doubles, 3 triples, 6 homers, 39 RBI, 33 walks, 60 strikeouts, 24 stolen bases.

Comment: Chavez has proven to be a useful player, but it would probably be best for the team if he doesn’t reach 414 at-bats.

Franklin Gutierrez: .270 average, .348 on-base, .368 slugging, .716 OPS, 489 at-bats, 66 runs, 132 hits, 15 doubles, 3 triples, 9 homers, 57 RBI, 57 walks, 105 strikeouts, 9 stolen bases.

Comment: Gutierrez is still developing as a hitter, but his defense has been as advertised.

Yuniesky Betancourt:: .249 average, .277 on-base, .329 slugging, .607 OPS, 519 at-bats, 36 runs, 129 hits, 18 doubles, 3 triples, 6 homers, 51 RBI, 24 walks, 42 strikeouts, 9 stolen bases.

Comment: The OPS is miserable, but he’s suddenly become a walk machine. The 24 walks would represent a career high. So, unfortunately, would be the 27 errors Betancourt is on pace to commit.

Adrian Beltre: .244 average, .275 on-base, .355 slugging, .630 OPS, 651 at-bats, 75 runs, 159 hits, 36 doubles, 0 triples, 12 homers, 75 RBI, 24 walks, 114 strikeouts, 18 stolen bases.

Comment: Most of these numbers would be career lows, but Beltre is always a slow starter and his offense appears to be on the rise. Whether the Mariners will be the team to benefit from his possible revival is an open question.

Wladimir Balentien: .235 average, .280 on-base, .357 slugging, .638 OPS, 294 at-bats, 39 runs, 66 hits, 27 doubles, 0 triples, 3 homers, 18 RBI, 21 walks, 72 strikeouts, 3 stolen bases.

Comment: Balentien was given an opportunity to play every day during one stretch and didn’t seize it. Has yet to prove he can be a productive player on a regular basis.

Jose Lopez: .231 average, .272 on-base, .362 slugging, 597 at-bats, 63 runs, 138 hits, 33 doubles, 0 triples, 15 homers, 87 RBI, 33 walks, 72 strikeouts, 0 stolen bases.

Comment: Not good, but like Beltre, there’s reason to believe they will rise. One number that stands out, in a positive way, is the RBI total.

Mike Sweeney: .230 average, .272 on-base, .368 slugging, .640 OPS, 261 at-bats, 21 runs, 60 hits, 18 doubles, 0 triples, 6 homers, 30 RBI, 9 walks, 33 strikeouts, 0 stolen bases.

Comment: So far this year, Sweeney has been a better clubhouse leader than a productive hitter.

Ken Griffey Jr. : .223 average, .333 on-base, .403 slugging, .736 OPS, 417 at-bats, 48 runs, 93 hits, 21 doubles, 0 triples, 18 homers, 45 RBI, 72 walks, 78 strikeouts, 0 stolen bases.

Comment: Griffey has had his moments, but the Mariners need an increase in output from the DH position.


PITCHING
Sean White: 60 games, 3-0 record, 1.65 ERA, 81.3 IP, 51 hits, 6 homers, 36 walks, 33 strikeouts, 3.62 K/9, 1.06 WHIP.
Comment: White has emerged as a reliable setup man for the Mariners. His numbers are particularly impressive — and perhaps worrisome — because he doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts.
Jason Vargas: 21 games, 15 starts, 6-0 record, 1.93 ERA, 97 1/3 IP, 87 hits, 15 homers, 27 walks, 57 strikeouts, 5.23 K/9, 1.16 WHIP.
Comment: Not an accurate projection because Vargas joined the rotation so late. He could be a real find by Jack Zduriencik from the J.J. Putz trade if he continues pitching as well as he has.
David Aardsma: 78 games, 6-6 record, 24 saves, 2.05 ERA, 79 IP, 48 hits, 3 HR, 54 walks, 81 strikeouts, 9.23 K/9, 1.29 WHIP.
Comment: Speaking of finds, Aardsma has developed into a late-inning force for the Mariners.
Erik Bedard: 30 starts, 12-6 record, 2.37 ERA, 182 IP, 150 hits, 18 HR, 54 walks, 183 strikeouts, 9.05 K/9, 1.12 WHIP.
Comment: Bedard has been outstanding, and is certain to be one of the most coveted starters in the majors as the trade deadline approaches.
Jarrod Washburn: 30 starts, 9-12 record, 3.22 ERA, 193 IP, 177 hits, 15 HR, 51 walks, 132 strikeouts, 6.16 K/9, 1.18 WHIP.
Comment: Washburn has been excellent despite his usual lack of run support, and also figures to be in demand by teams seeking pitching help for the stretch.
Felix Hernandez: 33 starts, 15-9 record, 3.41 ERA, 214 IP, 213 hits, 18 HR, 60 walks, 216 strikeouts, 9.08 K/9, 1.28 WHIP.
Comment: Not quite the breakout, Cy Young season everyone is still hoping for, but he’s getting closer.
Miguel Batista: 60 games, 9-3 record, 3.76 ERA, 79 IP, 90 hits, 3 HR, 48 walks, 69 strikeouts, 7.86 K/9, 1.75 WHIP.
Comment: Has made himself into a useful relief option for the Mariners, but the WHIP is too high.
Mark Lowe: 75 games, 0-6 record, 4.50 ERA, 78 IP, 87 hits, 6 HR, 30 walks, 60 strikeouts, 6.92 K/9, 1.50 WHIP.
Comment: Shows enough flashes of dominating stuff to tantalize, but still enough inconsistency to frustrate.
Chris Jakubauskas: 36 games, 24 starts, 9-15 record, 5.96 ERA, 145 innings, 150 hits, 15 HR, 51 walks, 60 strikeouts, 3.72 K/9, 1.39 WHIP.
Comment: Lost his spot in the rotation, but has been effective in middle relief.
Brandon Morrow: 42 games, 0-9 record, 18 saves, 7.63 ERA, 46 IP, 9 HR, 42 walks, 54 strikeouts, 10.57 K/9, 2.02 WHIP.
Comment: He’s been a mess, but the Mariners desperately need Morrow to find himself before too long. He still has overpowering stuff.
TEAM
The Mariners are on pace to finish 78-84 — an improvement of 17 games over last year’s 61-101 mark. But they would score just 624 runs, on target to be worst in the American League and their lowest total in a full season since they scored 610 in their glorious 103-loss 1980 season. The M’s project to 141 homers — an increase of 17 from last year. Their .259 team average/.313 on-base/.392 slugging/.705 OPS compares to .265/.318/.389/.707. A wash. But their current team ERA of 3.88 (best in the American League) is nearly a run a game better than last year’s 4.73 That means if they kept it up, they would allow 630 earned runs, compared to 754 last year. And that 124-run difference would amount to a lot of extra victories, especially if the offense picked up.

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