I have decided that Wednesdays are now unofficially poll day. I say unofficially because nothing is really official about this blog. I’m just a fan writing about the team I obsess over. Regardless, I will do my best to come up with three polls every Wednesday for fans to vote on.
In yesterday’s Mariner game against the Blue Jays. There were two pick off moves in which the runner looked out. The first one was very close, too close to call at real time speed, but on the second he was obviously out. I don’t know if the umpire was caught off guard, blinked, or got his calls mixed up, but that runner was out. He was tagged about a foot from the bag on the wrist. The play had no real impact on the game because the runner did not come in to score, but never less the runner was out and should have been called as such.
On July 29th a blown call meant the difference in 1st and 2nd place in the AL east. A Boston base runner was called out at home against the Rays on a close play at home, and the run would have tied the game. The runner looked safe at real time speed, and it became obvious that he was after instant replay. However, because umpires do not have instant replay at their disposal, they could not correct the call, costing Boston first place. From the picture below you can see that he did, in fact, get his foot in before the tag.
Boston base runner is called out at home.
This brings me to the question of why instant replay is not used in the MLB. It is used in almost every other sport to some degree. Human error has always been a part of baseball, but now that we have the technology to get those calls right, we should use it. I don’t think every call should be reviewed and corrected, because that would eliminate the need for umpires completely. Instead, I suggest that the Manager of each team is given one challenge per game, like coaches in the NFL. Currently, managers argue calls on the field with the umpires, but when was the last time you saw a call get changed? The challenge would actually bring a purpose to the argument, and would increase the overall fairness of the game. It might even ad more strategy by the managers, deciding whether or not to challenge a call.
After last night’s game against the Orioles, the Mariners have four players batting above .260. Why is this so important? Last year Jesus Montero led the team in batting average hitting .260. Last season at this time, the Mariners had a similar record of 51-58 compared to their current 52-59. So why are fans so much more optimistic about the team this year? It’s because the offense is there. The Mariner offense is finally fun to watch again. This year the Mariners rank third in the league in HRs, and 15th in runs scored. They still rank in the bottom half in AVG and OBP, but it is still an improvement from last year, when they were last in those categories.
This year pitching has been the issue. King Felix and Iwakuma have both been outstanding, but the remaining three pitchers in the rotation have been unpredictable and inconsistent. Luckily for us, Mariner fans, the solution is in sight. The “big three” pitching prospects could be the key to the Mariners’ future success. Paxton, Walker, and Hultzen could potentially fill out the rotation next year, and one of them might even get called up before the end of this season. Even if one of these pitchers doesn’t live up to the hype surrounding him, the M’s still have the option of either Ramirez or Mauer. The organization has a plethora of young pitching talent, so it just comes down to which three will win the three spots behind Felix and Kuma.
There is finally hope in Seattle. If the hitting can continue to improve, and the young pitching lives up to the hype, the Mariners could be contenders as early as next year.
This article is a change of pace from my previous, more statistical posts. When you watch baseball with your girlfriend, she doesn’t pay attention to stats. Instead, she is more concerned with the color of the team’s uniform or the appearance of the players.
The other day while watching the Mariner game on TV, my girlfriend asked me why all of the player had beards. I had never really thought about it before, but when I actually started to pay attention to it, I realized that almost every player in the lineup had some sort of facial hair. This made me wonder if it was just a coincidence on the Mariners, or if beards were actually more prevalent in baseball than any other sport.
After doing some research, it turned out that the sport of baseball is actually notorious for producing outstanding beards. In today’s Mariner lineup, 5 out of 9 hitters had a beard as well as the pitcher, Joe Saunders. Even though more than half of the players in the game all had beards, this is still not the most “beard heavy” lineup that the Mariners could field. With Nick Franklin, Endy Chavez, and Dustin Ackley, the Mariners could tally 8 out of 9 hitters with facial hair. So this brings me to the following questions:
Which Mariner has the best beard, and which Mariner needs to shave?
Before the Brad Miller and Nick Franklin duo was created at the top of the Mariner order, the Mariners had a record of 34-45. Since then, the team is 16-14. The impact the duo has on the overall offense is evident because the team averages over two more runs when Miller and Franklin combine to reach base three or more times. In the 30 games that they have played together, they have combined to reach base three or more times in 13 games. In these games the team is 8-5 and averages 6.5 runs per game. In the 17 games where the duo reached base two times or less, the team is 8-9 and averages 4.4 runs per game. That is a difference of 2.1 runs per game. If these two can continue to produce and improve, the Mariners could have a deadly top of the order for years to come. With these two getting on base frequently in front of the emerging bats of Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak, the Mariners have a very intimidating lineup of the future.
The Mariner bullpen has been absolutely awful lately. There is just no other way to put it. During their current four game losing streak, the bullpen has allowed 16 runs over 10.2 innings, giving them a 14.18 ERA over that span. It is difficult to win games with numbers like that. If the mariners are going to make the jump to .500 and become a contender over the coming years, the bullpen is going to have to improve. Luckily, there is a lot of potential in Stephen Pryor who is currently on rehab for a back injury. He did not allow a run before he was injured earlier this year, and could potentially inherit the closer role from a struggling Tom Wilhemsen when he returns. Tom Wilhelmsen has shown that he is capable of being a solid closer or a very good setup man, but recently he has really struggled with his control, walking 9 batters in his last 9.1 innings. Carter Capps has also shown some signs of success, but has struggled with consistency, resulting with him being sent down to AAA Tacoma. Medina, Perez and Furbush are currently the only members of the bullpen with an ERA under 4.00.