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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

February 21, 2008 at 3:51 PM

Bill James insights

This fresh off the wire from the folks at ACTA Sports, promoting the new book by statistics guru Bill James, titled “Gold Mine” — which is a collection of what they call “provocative” stats on every team. On the Mariners, James found some interesting tidbits. The most important one pertaining to this coming season might be this one:
— Seattle’s opening day starting players (on the 25-man roster), James writes, made 1,276 starts in 2007, 56 more than any other major league team.
That’s huge. It means the M’s had a relatively injury-free season in 2008. An optimist might say that’s a sign of a team of durable performers capable of seeing their way through a 162-game schedule.
A pessimist might see it as the sign of a team that sticks by slumping players too long, doesn’t use its backups enough and is due for an injury catastrophe any day now.
James makes some other observations.


— He notes that M’s catcher Kenji Johjima hit better against “good” pitchers than weaker ones, noting his .323 average against hurlers with an ERA under the league average of 4.25. Johjima hit only .256 against pitchers with ERAs above 4.25.
— Adrian Beltre was the flip-side of that coin, though his numbers against “good” pitchers were higher than they’d been in recent years. He’s never hit “good” pitching all that well.
— Ichiro hit 120 ground balls that went for hits last season, 41 percent more than any other hitter. We’ve all seen him beat out those two hoppers to shortstop for infield singles. If you’re an M’s fan, you’re hoping it’s more a case of that than him simply getting lucky at finding holes. Though, after seven years of this, I’d say it’s more of the former.
— Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn pitched a nearly identical amount of innings, yet Washburn got 255 outs on balls hit in the air (pop outs, fly outs and line drives caught) while Hernandez managed only 107. I’ve seen it noted on this sight, in some of the comments threads, that Washburn did benefit defensively last season. Sort of surprising, given all the criticism the outfield defense has taken all winter. But I know, from watching the games every night, that Ichiro got a good workout whenever Washburn pitched. Ichiro in center makes up for plenty of the shortcomings in the corners.

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