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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.

September 19, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Quantifying the late-season swoon by M’s rookies

NOTE: I wrote and posted this blog entry before today’s game in Cleveland began — a game which the Mariners lead, as I write this addendem, 11-4, behind Mike Carp’s grand slam and a two-run single by Trayvon Robinson.

For a fun read, check out this “Take 2” in which readers nominate which Seattle sports figures warrant a statue, a la Dave Niehaus.

Eric Wedge had some interesting comments today in Geoff’s game story and blog from yesterday’s game, in which the Mariners were shut out, 3-0, by Texas. The M’s managed just six hits and struck out 14 times, continuing their outrageous whiff totals in recent games.

The key quote is this one:

“A lot of these guys are going to have to do a better job in the off-season,” Wedge said. “We’re going to have a lot of discussion with some of these guys about the work, the time, the effort and the discipline they’re going to have to commit to in order to be able to come out here and play 150 games if we need them to play 150 games.”

As Geoff points out, this applies to veterans and rookies alike. Adam Kennedy has fallen off the planet in the second half (.184 with a .209 on-base percentage and .288 slugging percentage since the All-Star break). Franklin Gutierrez and Brendan Ryan are both hurt. Miguel Olivo is hitting .185 in September. Ichiro is doing decently of late, but only in comparison to the lackluster performance that preceded it.

I’m going to focus here on the five rookies who are getting significant playing time, because so much future hope is attached to them, and because that’s where the most dramatic falloff has concerned. These players — Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Kyle Seager, Trayvon Robinson and Casper Wells — were rightly lauded for their efforts in July and August, culminating with a prolific series against Cleveland in late August.

Since then, however, all five players have struggled — not an uncommon result for young players who are used to having their seasons end in late August or early September.

Here are the numbers:

Dustin Ackley:

Through Cleveland series (Aug. 24): 58 games, .288 average/.366 on-base percentage/.460 slugging percentage; .827 OPS. Five homers, 28 RBIs, 41 strikeouts in 215 at-bats (19 percent).

Since Cleveland series: 23 games, .250/.319/.345; .664 OPS. One homer, six RBIs, 27 strikeouts in 84 at-bats (32 percent).

Mike Carp:

Through Cleveland series (starting from his second promotion to the majors, July 19): 33 games, .326/.364/.548; .912 OPS. Seven homers, 29 RBIs, 36 strikeouts in 135 at-bats (27 percent).

Since Cleveland series: 21 games, .215/.279/.392; .671 OPS. Three homers, nine RBIs, 26 strikeouts in 79 at-bats (33 percent).

Kyle Seager:

Through Cleveland series: 23 games, .313/.375/.450; .825 OPS. Two homers, five RBIs, 20 strikeouts in 80 at-bats (25 percent).

Since Cleveland series: 21 games, .197/.234/.268; .501 OPS. Zero homers, four RBIs, 14 strikeouts in 71 at-bats (20 percent).

Trayvon Robinson:

Through Cleveland series: 16 games, .304/.350/.500; .850 OPS. One homer, seven RBIs, 18 strikeouts in 56 at-bats (32 percent).

Since Cleveland series: 19 games, .167/.207/.296; .503 OPS. One homer, three RBI, 27 strikeouts in 54 at-bats (50 percent).

Casper Wells:

Through Cleveland series: 18 games, .288/.365/.561; .925 OPS. six homers, 14 RBIs, 26 strikeouts in 74 at-bats (35 percent).

After Cleveland series: 13 games, .083/.214/.194; .409 OPS; One homer, one RBI, 16 strikeouts in 36 at-bats (44 percent).

It’s not pretty, but if I were a Mariners fan, I wouldn’t panic, any more than I would have figured the M’s had a star on their hands when Jeremy Reed hit .397 in September of 2004.

It’s just part of the growing process of becoming an major leaguer, and doesn’t mean that the early success was a mirage. I think most of us, for instance, are still just as high on the potential of Ackley as we were three weeks ago. It’s merely one of the rites of passage of becoming a quality major leaguer — fighting through the adversity and, as Wedge said, learning how to cope with the demands of a long, punishing season.

All these players still have a chance to do that, despite the ugliness of their current numbers.

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