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

April 4, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Mariners’ offense sluggish early — but they’re not alone

Oakland center fielder Chris Young watches Mike Morse's homer in the first inning yesterday. Photo by Getty Images

Oakland center fielder Chris Young watches Mike Morse’s homer in the first inning yesterday. Photo by Getty Images

Despite some flashy home-run hitting by Michael Morse, the Mariners’ offense isn’t exactly lighting it up early. Through three games, they are hitting under .200 (.196), getting on base at under .300 (.297) and averaging under four runs a game (3.7).

I would point out two things: One, it’s way too early to concern oneself too much with trends, either good or bad. But for those who can’t help themselves, there is this: The Mariners are not alone. In fact, their offensive production right now, tepid though it has been,  puts them right in the middle of a very cold-hitting pack of major-league teams.

I don’t know if it’s the cold weather (Gio Gonzalez has a, uh, unique take on that), or the old saw about pitchers being ahead of pitchers this time of year, or just a flat-out fluke. There’s also the fact that each team faced an ace on Opening Day. But the small sample-size takeaway through three games (just two for some teams) is that the hitters struggling.

The American League cumulative average is .228 with a .297 on-base percentage and .355 slugging. The National League is at .217/.286/.358. Overall, MLB hitters are limping to a .222/.291/.357 mark for a .648 OPS. Guess what the Mariners’ OPS is after three games? The same: .648 (.351 slugging plus .297 OBP). So for all the times we’ve said that the Mariners just needed to get to a league-average offense, well, they’re there. The scoring average, MLB-wide, is an even three runs per game, so the Mariners are actually a bit ahead of that.

Seven out of 15 American League teams are hitting under .200 as a team. In the National League, it’s six out of 15. The Florida Marlins were shut out in each of their first two games. The Astros came within one out of a being victimized by a perfect game — and then were shut out the next day, too. Heading into today’s games, you have the Marlins and Reds at .123, the Cubs at .131, the Pirates at .150, the Padres at .161, the Dodgers at .176, the Blue Jays at .138, the Astros at .172, the Royals at .182, the Twins at .185, the A’s at .187, and the Angels at .190.

Just four teams have an average over .300, even though this is the easiest time of year to pull that off: the Rockies are at .353, the Red Sox at .329, the Orioles at .324 and the Rays at .308. The top OPSs are the Braves (.995), Rockies (.962) and Orioles (.929).

Mostly, though, hitters are flailing all over baseball. Don’t worry, that will pick up soon enough.

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