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

Category: strategy
May 21, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Mariners hitting coach Dave Hansen on all those strikeouts

The Mariners have struck out 11 times or more in four of the seven games on this road trip, which continues tonight in Anaheim.

The Mariners have struck out 11 times or more in four of the seven games on this road trip, which continues tonight in Anaheim.

Tough not to notice all the strikeouts the Mariners have taken of late. Hitting coach Dave Hansen is hard to pin down, but we got him for a few moments today and one of the topics that came up was the team’s strikeout rate. The Mariners have struck out at least 11 times in four of the first seven games on this 2-5 trip.

They have struck out 13 times on three occasions and are averaging 9.3 strikeouts per contest.

Then again, if you crunch the date, the Mariners also have a .348 on-base-percentage and a .474 slugging mark during those seven games for an .814 OPS and are averaging 4.7 runs per contest. The team’s walk rate has also gone up. So, on the surface of it, the team is still putting up some impressive offensive totals despite the whiffs.

Hansen said what you’re seeing now is the team going through the process of “refining” its strike zone. The Mariners are still striking out, ut they are also taking more walks and generating more offense by swinging at hittable pitches and doing some damage with them.

“We’re still working on it,” Hansen said. “We’re still getting our strikeouts. But when you’re consistent with your approach, you refine your strike zone. It’s a byproduct, I think. You just don’t chase as many. We still chase. But we don’t chase as many pitches. We’re looking for more specific pitches and that’s real important that we do that — stay focused that way.

“You will see the walks. We’re still working on the other part, but I do see that we’re in it every pitch. And that’s real important.


Comments | More in strategy | Topics: dave hansen; justin smoak; strikeouts; discipline

May 20, 2013 at 7:54 AM

Eric Wedge: hitting with runners in scoring position a different animal

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 10.58.33 AM

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Be sure to join me at 8 a.m. PT for Talkin’ Baseball with Mitch Levy on Sports Radio KJR.

We’ve got a real early 9:05 a.m. PT start time today, so Mariners manager Eric Wedge held his pregame chat first thing this morning and it almost felt like we were back in spring training. Wedge said his players have to be aware of the fact they’ve played tough in five of the six games on this trip thus far — up until yesterday — and could have won each of those despite having a 2-4 record.

Wedge was asked about his team’s performance with runners in scoring position and he said that improvement in this area would indeed turn some of these close losses into wins. It being a dull Monday morning and all, I could not resist asking Wedge about his thoughts on hitting with runners in scoring position. As you may know, for years, many have attempted to quantify whether such hitting is indeed a skill, or whether it boils down mainly to luck.

The Mariners are batting .239 overall and .209 with runners in scoring position.

I know exactly how Wedge feels about it, since he mentions runners in scoring position hitting very often. But just for fun, I asked Wedge to spell out exactly what it takes to hit in such situations and whether he subscribes at all to the “luck” theory. It’s an interesting answer he gave — regardless of where you fall on the whole RISP thing — because I think it reminds us once again that no matter how many numbers we try to crunch, these are still human beings playing the game and subject to all types of variables we will never be ale to entirely quantify.

“It’s just different,” he said. “Those same (luck theory) people argue that the ninth inning is the same as the seventh and eighth inning. It’s different. If I have to explain it to you, then you don’t understand. I can’t. I don’t have enough time to explain it to you, because if you don’t know, then you don’t know. And you’re never going to know. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it and you’re not going to get it.

“The ninth inning is different because we’re human beings and we’re not widgets. OK? It’s no different than when you’re doing regular human being things and your heatbeat speeds up a bit from the things that you’re doing in regular life. That’s what happens with these guys when they’re playing and millions of people are watching and there are 30,000 people in the stands.


Comments | More in strategy | Topics: eric wedge; runners in scoring position; aaron harang; danny hultzen

April 7, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Mariners manager Eric Wedge on why he bunted in fifth inning yesterday

Mariners catcher Kelly Shoppach was asked to bunt in yesterday's fifth inning, but struck out with two on.

Mariners catcher Kelly Shoppach was asked to bunt in yesterday’s fifth inning, but struck out with two on.

Many of you have written in to me on Twitter asking why Mariners manager Eric Wedge opted to have catcher Kelly Shoppach bunt with two on and none out in yesterday’s fifth inning, but then opted not to pinch-hit for Raul Ibanez against a left-handed reliever with two on and one out in the sixth. A couple of you suggested there was an obvious contradiction between what appeared to be playing for one run in the fifth inning and then not doing so in the sixth under the guise that it was “too early” to be doing that.

Sounded like a fair question to me, so I asked Wedge about it in this morning’s media session.

First, what was his thought process behind having Shoppach bunt in the fifth inning of a 1-0 game, the Mariners still on top at that point?

“It’s a combination of things,” Wedge said. “One, you evaluate the inning. Do you want to go for the big inning, or do you want to try to play for maybe one run or a couple of runs? So, with where we were in the order with that matchup, kind of feeling the way the game was, which ended up being the way it ended up, I felt it was importnat for us to get a run or two right there. And that’s why we did it. And that’s something that Kelly (Shoppach) has done before. It’s actually something he can do well. And there will be other times, as you’ve seen, where we’ll let him swing away and see if we can put a bigger inning together. But I didn’t think it was going to be that type of game yesterday. I felt like it was going to be the type of game it ended up being.”


Comments | More in strategy | Topics: kelly shoppach; raul ibanez; jason bay; eric wedge