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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 5, 2010 at 7:53 AM

M’s offensive numbers don’t bode well at one-third point of season

The mathematical precision of reaching the one-third point of the season gives us a good opportunity to project the Mariners’ full-season totals.

The Mariners played their 54th game on Friday night – one-third of 162 — so all one needs to do is multiply all statistics by three, and voila, you have 162-game projections.

Obviously, Mariner players still have plenty of time to completely re-direct their season, and so does the team. But right now, the projections don’t paint a pretty picture, particularly offensively. Which should come as a shock to absolutely no one.

Here are their stats if you want to play along.

Right off the top, the M’s, at 22-32, are on pace to go 66-96. That’s not quite what they envisioned coming out of spring training, but that’s where they are.

The Mariners have a .244 team average, which would be their lowest since hitting .240 in 1983 (en route to a 60-102 record).

They have scored 197 runs, on pace for 591. Last year, a season notable for the M’s offensive struggles, they scored 640, the fewest in the American League. The last time the M’s scored fewer than 591 in a full (non-strike) season was 1983 (558).

Their projected 237 doubles compares to 280 last year, and would be their lowest total in a full season since 1989 (Ken Griffey Jr.’s first year), when they had that same number, 237.

The Mariners currently have 32 homers, which times three is 96, which is pitiful power production. Last year, they had 160 bombs. They haven’t had under 100 in any season, strike-shortened or not, since hitting 89 in 1981. But they played only 110 games that year. The M’s lowest homer total in a full season, and their only other year in double digits, was 1978, their second year of existence, when they cranked 97. As a point of comparison, the Mariners in 1997 hit 264 homers (at the Kingdome), the single-season record.

One semi-positive stat: The Mariners have 180 walks, which triples to 540, which would be more than a 100-walk increase from last year’s 421. But their projected 1,116 strikeouts would be a slight increase on last year’s 1,093.

The M’s project to steal 144 bases, which would be 55 more than last year’s 89, and their most since leading the league with 174 in 2001.

Their .349 slugging percentage (which ranks 29th out of 30 MLB teams) is well behind last year’s .402, and their .313 on-base percentage (26th out of 30) is one point behind last year’s .314.

Individually, here are some offensive projections (please hold your applause until the end):

Ichiro, with 78 hits and a .350 batting average, is on pace for yet another 200-hit season (234, to be exact). But Ichiro at his current pace would score just 78 runs, 12 fewer than last year, which was his only year under 100 since joining the Mariners. Ichiro has 17 steals, projecting to 51, which would be his most since getting 56 in his rookie season of 2001. But he’s also on pace to be caught 18 times; his highest total is 15 in 2002.

Chone Figgins, brought in to team with Ichiro and create havoc atop the order, is hitting .211 and has scored 24 runs, projecting to 72. Figgins scored 114 last year while hitting leadoff for the Angels. Figgins is also on pace to strike out 147 times, which would be the most in his career by more than 30 (114 last year). He’s also on pace to walk 102 times, which would surpass last year’s career high by one. With 11 steals, Figgins is on pace for 33 – nine fewer than last year’s 42. And having grounded into six double plays already, he’s on pace for 18 dreaded GIDPs (the major-league record, in case you wondered — I did — is 36 by Hall of Famer Jim Rice in 1984; the record for a switch-hitter is 29, shared by the A’s Dave Philley in 1952 and the Cardinals’ Ted Simmons in 1973).

Franklin Gutierrez is having a solid .294 season, on pace for 15 homers and 75 RBIs, with 24 doubles, 90 walks and the same 147 strikeouts as Figgins. His .820 OPS is a notable improvement on last year’s .764, and there aren’t many Mariners that can say that at this juncture.

Gutierrez’s 75 RBsI, by the way, would lead the team. They haven’t had a leader lower than that since Alvin Davis topped them with 69 RBIs in 1988. And Mike Sweeney projects to be their home run leader with 18; the only Mariner season with a lower leader was 1980, when Tom Paciorek’s 15 homers was tops.

Jose Lopez has had a recent surge to bring his average up to .244, and projects to 12 homers and 69 RBI – well below last year’s 24 and 96. Lopez had a .766 OPS last year; he’s at .605 now.

Milton Bradley reaches the third pole on with a .216 average and on pace for nine homers and 60 RBI. (Carlos Silva is on pace to go 21-0, but that’s another story). Casey Kotchman is on pace for a .191, nine-homer, 63-RBI season. Rob Johnson projects to .167, six homers and 21 RBI. Obviously, it’s not a pretty picture down the line. You don’t even want to know what sort of numbers Ken Griffey Jr. was headed toward before he headed home (except we knew all too well).

The pitching looks much better, not surprisingly — all except won-loss records, which reflects mostly on the offense, and to a lesser extent the bullpen.

Felix Hernandez, coming off his breakthrough Cy Young-contending season, projects to a 9-12 record with a 3.26 ERA in 240 innings. He would strike out 222, walk 87, give up 21 homers and 21 wild pitches.

Last year, Hernandez was 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA in 238 2/3 innings. He struck out 217, walked 71, gave up 15 homers and 17 wild pitches. Not a huge difference, other than w-l, which is dependent on many factors out of his control.

The craziest projection is reliever Brandon League, who has a 5-5 record. So this setup reliever projects to a 15-15 record, which would lead the team in both wins and losses.

Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ian Snell, on the other hand, project to go a combined 0-24. That’s 40 percent of their season-opening starting rotation, mind you.

Cliff Lee was hurt for the first month, so I’ll leave him out, except to note his amazing 150-12 strikeout/walks ratio.

Doug Fister, currently shut down for at least a start with a tired arm, projects to a 96-30 strikeouts/walk ratio, and would go 9-9 with his sparkling 2.45 ERA, in 209 innings, giving up just 171 hits.

Jason Vargas is on pace for a 12-6 record with a 2.92 ERA, giving up 150 hits in 194 innings, striking out 120 and walking 60.

David Aardsma projects to convert 36 saves in 45 opportunities.

And my head projects to explode if I do any more of these. I hope they were of some interest.

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