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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.

July 15, 2011 at 1:53 PM

West Coast teams united in their offensive funk

When it comes to feeble offense, the Mariners have few peers. Their ineptitude has been well-documented (and at the bottom of this post, I’ll present an interesting analysis by Dick Fain of KJR that shows they are one of the most disparate teams in baseball history when it comes to lousy hitting vis a vis great pitching ).

But if you’re trying to find a ballclub that struggles nearly as much as Seattle to score runs, you definitely should be focusing on the West Coast.

I’m not the first person to point this out, but it’s getting more glaring by the day: The Coast is toast in the realm of MLB offense.

There are six West Coast baseball teams: the Padres, Dodgers, Angels, A’s, Giants and Mariners. Here is how they rate in the MLB in various offensive categories:

Runs

22. Angels 355

26. Dodgers 340

27. Giants 338

28. A’s 315

29. Padres 301

30. Mariners 301

Batting average

13. Angels .257

15. Dodgers 254

25. Giants .242

28. A’s .233

29. Padres .231

30. Mariners .223

Home runs

19. Angels 76

22. Dodgers 63

23. Giants 60.

27. Mariners 55

28. A’s 50

30. Padres 48

On-base percentage

15. Angels .319

16. Dodgers .318

25. Giants .308

28. A’s .299

29. Padres .299

30. Mariners .289

Slugging percentage

16. Angels .390

24. Dodgers .367

26. Giants .362

28. A’s .337

29. Padres .331

30. Mariners .329

OPS

17. Angels .709

23. Dodgers .685

26. Giants .670

28. A’s .636

29. Padres .690

30. Mariners .618

The Angels have distanced themselves a bit from the other five slugs, but they’re still down among the dregs in runs scored. Obviously, several of these teams are paying a price for playing in pitcher-friendly ballparks — most notably the Mariners, Padres and Dodgers. All six teams have outstanding pitching. After the Phillies and Braves, who rank 1-2 in team ERA, the six West Coast teams hold the next six spots:

3. A’s 3.14

4. Giants 3.17

5. Padres 3.19

6. Mariners 3.25

7. Angels 3.26

But mostly, they’re paying the price for not having very good hitters. The Angels, whose offense is on the rise, have surged into second place in the AL West with a 50-42 record. The Giants, who won the World Series last year despite offensive challenges, are finding a way to win again. They lead the NL West with a 53-40 record. But the Dodgers needed a four-game winning streak just to pull 10 games under .500 at 41-51. The Padres are riding a six-game losing streak and are last in their division at 40-53. The Mariners have also lost six in a row to fall to 43-49, 8 1/2 games out of first, while the A’s are dead last in the AL West at 39-53.

The Mariners are the epitome of a team undermined by poor offense. Here’s a fascinating research project that KJR’s Fain did at the All-Star break and shared with me. He’s discussed it on his show, and said he didn’t mind if I posted it:

“Seattle averages 3.4 runs per game and allows 3.4 runs per game…the major-league average is 4.2 runs per game, so there is a difference of .8 on both offense and pitching per the league average. I tried to find if there were any teams that had a greater disparity than .8 off the league average in BOTH pitching and hitting in the same year.

I went all the way back to the 1880’s, which is as far as baseball reference would go. The only teams to have a greater disparity in baseball history were:

2003 LA Dodgers. Scored 3.5 rpg, allowed 3.4 rpg. MLB average that year was 4.7

1979 Houston Astros Scored 3.6, allowed 3.6. MLB average 4.5.

1937 Boston Bees Scored 3.8, allowed 3.7. MLB average 4.9.

1933 Boston Bees Scored 3.5, allowed 3.4. MLB average 4.5

Thats it…4 NL teams, 0 AL teams. The 1913 White Sox scored 3.2 and allowed 3.3, and the average was 4.0, so they are very close, and percentage wise they actually have a greater disparity than the M’s to average but they don’t have the requisite .8 differential in both.

So the bottom line is the M’s, if they keep this pace up for the rest of the year, will be the only team in American League history to score 8/10 of a run less per game than the ML average and allow 8/10 of a run per game less. Truly a historic accomplishment.”

Fain acknowledges that he didn’t take into consideration park factors, but it’s still a striking measurement of how the M’s hitting woes are undermining their great pitching. It’s a problem the A’s, Padres and Dodgers can relate to. The Giants and Angels are finding ways to win despite their offensive struggles.

One more thing: I looked up all the teams Fain mentioned, and here’s something that should encourage Mariners. They each finished with a winning record:

2003 Dodgers: 85-77

1979 Astros: 89-73

1937 Bees: 79-73

1933 Bees: 83-73

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