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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.

May 12, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Struggling Mariners offense not much better than last year

ryank.jpg

(Seattle Times staff photo by Mark Harrison)

In light of Eric Wedge’s latest rant about his team’s ineffective offense, it seems like a good time to see how this year’s Mariner attack stacks up against last year’s historically inept offense.

It’s not pretty, though it should be noted that offense league-wide is down, so the numbers have to be weighted accordingly. Dave Cameron of USS Mariner and FanGraphs informs me that by wRC+, which adjusts for park and league average, the M’s are 17% below average this year, 22% below average last year. The acronym wRC+ stands for weighted runs created plus (yes, I had to look it up).

They’re scoring more runs — slightly. Last year’s M’s plated 513 runs, the fewest of the DH era (which began in 1973). This year’s M’s, with 133 runs through 37 games, are on pace to score 582. That total would have ranked 29th in the majors last year — ahead of only the Mariners. Excluding last year, it would be the fewest runs scored by the Mariners since 1994, when they had 569. Of course, there was a strike in 1994 and they only played 112 games.

In a full season, it would be the third-lowest run total in franchise history, better only than 2011 and 1983, when they scored 558. Quite a team, those 1983 Mariners of Rene Lachemann. They went 60-102 and were led in both homers and runs batted in by first baseman Pat Putnam with 19 and 67.

Furthermore, 582 runs would be the fewest in the majors (sans 2010 Mariners) since the Dodgers of 2003 had 574. (The fact those Dodgers finished 85-77 is a testament to a rotation led by Kevin Brown and Hideo Nomo, and the lock-down season of Cy Young winner Eric Gagne and his 55 saves.

It would be the fewest in the American League (sans 2010 Mariners) since Detroit had 575 in 2002. Those Tigers went 55-106, and are not the sort of team you want to emulate.

The Mariners, it turns out, are even more power-deprived this year than last year, thus far (the season is nearly 25 percent finished). They have just 19 homers, on pace for 83. That puts them even with the Astros (who are 14-23) and slightly ahead of the 17 of the Twins (who are setting the standard for paltry offense this season, and have the major’s worst record at 12-23). Bu it’st behind the woeful 101 dingers the Mariners hit last year — which was the lowest in franchise history for a full season since they had 97 in 1978, their second year of existence.

One thing the Mariners are doing better is showing patience at the plate; they’re on pace for nearly 150 more walks. But as Wedge said, that’s a double-edge sword if it robs your aggressiveness. Their OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .637 is identical to last year’s final number, which was lowest in the majors by more than 40 points. This year’s Mariner OPS merely ranks 29th, ahead of Minnesota.

Here are the full comparisons:

Batting average

2010: .236

2011: .232

On-base percentage

2010: .298

2011: .307

Slugging percentage

2010: .339

2011: .330

OPS (on-base plus slugging)

2010: .637

2011: .637

Runs per game

2010: 3.2

2011: 3.6

Doubles

2010: 227

2011: 263*

Triples

2010: 16

2011: 9*

Home runs

2010: 101

2011: 83*

Strikeouts

2010: 1,184

2011: 1,182*

Walks

2010: 459

2011: 591*

Stolen bases

2010: 142

2011: 136*

Caught stealing

2010: 39

2011: 61*

Stolen base %

2010: 78

2011: 69

*projected totals

As you can see, Eric Wedge has a monumental task ahead of him.

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