Somebody came up with an interesting note earlier today stating that there were actually four teams out there with worse offenses than the Mariners have. The whole thing was meant to generate laughs — and gasps, I’d imagine — since most assume the M’s are the worst thing to hit offenses since, well, since they did it last year.
I’ve been hearing this theme crop up more and more with the Mariners of late. Read some stuff stating that the offense is only 26th out of 30 teams, so maybe there’s slight improvement and all that. I must admit, I was intrigued, since most games I’ve been to, the M’s couldn’t hit their way out of not only the proverbial paper bag, but a paper bag that had been charred to a blackened crisp over a nice Golden Gardens bonfire.
Well, turns out there’s a reason for all of this.
We won’t get into the fact that those other four teams — San Diego, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Baltimore — have played fewer games than the M’s have. In Baltimore’s case, they’ve played three fewer games and scored only one fewer run so they don’t even belong on this list. Kick them out of the club!
Now, while those other teams seem to have legit offensive problems, are they worse than that of the M’s?
When you go by total runs scored, yeah, they’re right up there. But what are these teams likely to do every night of the week? I mean, if you had to put money — real money — down on it, what would you bet on the M’s doing?
Would you bet on them scoring 3.39 runs per game? That is, after all, their average.
Ah, but here’s the kicker. It might be their average. But just as Alex Rodriguez’s salary might be inflating the average wages of ballplayers coast to coast, there’s been an “A-Rod game” or two slipped in to the M’s totals that is vastly inflating things.
Like that 13-run game against Detroit last week. Or, that 8-7 miracle comeback win over Toronto prior to that.
That’s 21 runs in just two games. Compared to 57 runs the other 21 games. Just for comparison, the gosh-awful Padres have scored only 63 runs in 22 games total.
So, you do the math.
Everyone thinks San Diego is so horrifyingly, historically, mind-numbingly awful at the plate this year and yet — without some outlier games — the Mariners would be nudging right up alongside them.
Take away that one 13-run anomoly and the M’s have 65 runs in their other 22 games compared to 63 runs in 22 total games by the Padres. Take away that “miracle” game against Toronto and the M’s are a worse offensive team than the Pads.
Yes, yes, I can hear all the braying and complaining from here…
You can’t just pick and choose outlier games to remove, the critics scoff. After all, it evens out.
Well, no, so far, it hasn’t evened out. None of those other teams I’ve mentioned have had a 13-run game yet. The Mariners, as far as I can tell, haven’t blown any 7-1 leads in the eighth inning the way Toronto did against Seattle in that comeback game. That game still counts as a “miracle” plain and simple. It’s not going to happen again. Doubt it happens in reverse, though the way the bullpen has looked at times…well, let’s not go there.
That 8-7 comeback game is a serious, one-sided outlier inflating Seattle’s run total. But even more so is that 13-run explosion against Detroit. Odds of the M’s scoring 13 at any other point this season are slim indeed.
Well, last year, the M’s scored 15 in one game. They got 11 in another. And that was it as far as double-digit run totals by Seattle went.
So, there’s a pretty good chance that 13-run explosion might be the season high by the M’s. They’ve used up their lone, run-inflating Mulligan, for you golf nuts out there.
But realistically, what can the M’s expect to score most nights?
Well, a measure of futility is often a team that scores three runs or fewer.
The M’s went 22-81 (.214) last season when scoring three or fewer runs. They are 3-12 (.200) this season with that same scoring output.
So, yes, it’s bad to score so few runs in any game.
And the M’s are right up there with the league’s worst when it comes to the number of games in which they’ve reached that lowly output:
Mariners — 15
Padres — 15
Twins — 12
Orioles — 11
Pirates — 10
So, please, don’t be fooled by all the “Hey, at least the M’s aren’t the worst team offensively…they’re only No. 26, (or No. 27 or No. 28)” kind of talk. In the majority of their games, they really are right up there as the worst.
This team scored 513 runs last year, the worst total of the DH era.
This year — and we won’t even get into all of the meaningless runs scored late (outside of the “miracle” game) in lost-cause comebacks — the M’s are on-pace to score 549 runs.
So, yeah, that’s an improvement, right?
Only if you think that 13-run explosion is bound to repeat itself and save their average every three weeks or so.
Take that one 13-run game out of the mix and you’re looking at an offense that is on-pace to score 479 runs.
Take the “miracle” game out as well, it’s been a 439-run offense.
Hey, I’m feeling charitable. I’ll give you the “miracle” game. Let you add it in.
But not the 13-run outlier. That’s unlikely to happen again this season. So, even if you want to tack a few more runs on to that 479-run projection (figuring they’ll score seven or eight runs a couple of times) you’re still looking at a team that could do worse than last year’s 513-run total.
And that’s just unacceptable. Rebuilding year or not. Not when a team is charging major league ticket prices.
When you have a year as historically bad offensively as last season, the one area you have to improve upon is the offense. And when you don’t improve upon it, well, heck, we can’t sugarcoat it. It’s bad. Real bad.
So, the M’s had better hope that something changes at the plate (be it luck, hits, bad opposition pitching, whatever…) because so far, more than three weeks in, this product is looking historically bad for a second straight year. And if something doesn’t change — meaning, if the team relies on 13-run outliers to pad its run totals the rest of the way — then odds are, it will look historically awful for a second consecutive year once 162 games have been played. In fact, it could even look worse than in 2010.
Sort of takes the humor out of the whole “four teams worse” than the M’s thing, doesn’t it? For me, it does, Besides, all that humor lets the M’s off-the-hook way too easily. You run a team that offensively inept out there two years in a row, somebody should answer for it with something other than laughs.