erik lundegaard

Thursday July 12, 2012

Can't Wait to Get on the Road Again: The Offensive Numbers of the 2012 Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners start the second half of the 2012 season today with the worst record in the American League and as an afterthought in Major League Baseball.

More tellingly, or painfully, the team is once again in last place, or near last place, 29th or 30th, in key offensive categories: batting average (29th), slugging percentage (29th), OBP (30th) and OPS (30th). Fans are past the point of longing for the days of Griffey, A-Rod, Buhner and Edgar; we now long for the days of Randy Winn. My Kingdome for a player with a .350 on-base percentage.

Here are the offensive numbers of the first half of 2012:

M's Totals MLB Rank
Runs 337 25th
Hits 667 28th
Doubles 135 24th
Triples 12 25th
HRs 73 24th
RBI 317 24th
Total Bases 1055 27th
BA .230 29th
OBP .291 30th
SLG .358 29th
OPS .649 30th

Warning: the counting numbers are a little skewed (upward), since the M's have played more games than any other team in baseball. They're tied with three other teams at 87. Yet despite this statistical advantage, they rank no higher than 24th in any major offensive category.

Here's the question: How much of this results from Safeco Field, which as a reputation as a pitchers' park? How much better do we hit on the road than at home?

As it turns out, much better:

Home #s MLB Rank Away #s MLB Rank
Runs 117 30th 220 2nd
Hits 249 30th 428 2nd
Doubles 50 30th 85 7th
Triples 3 29th 9 4th
HRs 21 28th 52 3rd
RBI 111 30th 206 2nd
Total Bases 368 30th 687 2nd
BA .195 30th .256 12th
OBP .273 30th .305 19th
SLG .289 30th .410 8th
OPS .562 30th .715 11th

Warning: the counting numbers are skewed here, too, since the M's rank 26th in games played at home (41) and second in games played on the road (46). So our counting numbers are driven down at home and up on the road. Even so, what a surprise to find your 2012 Seattle Mariners second in all of Major League Baseball in road-game Total Bases.

But the percentage numbers are not skewed in this manner. They're skewed in the sense that we're a different ballclub at home and on the road. We're the Jeckyl and Hyde of teams. In slugging percentage, we're Alex Gordon on the road. At home, we turn into Dee Gordon.

But OPS is the true indicator of a team's offensive prowess, and the difference here is vast: .153. 11th to 30th. And not just 30th: 30th by a long shot. The second-worst home OPS belongs to San Diego, but theirs is .625 or 63 points above ours. The second-worst in the American League is Oakland's, but they're at .662. I'll let you do that math on that one.

Question: Has the discrepancy between the M's home and road numbers always been this bad? No, but...

Year Home OPS MLB Rank Away OPS MLB Rank OPS Diff.
2000 .760 23rd .842 1st -.082
2001 .791 5th .819 2nd -.028
2002 .743 19th .793 4th -.050
2003 .740 22nd .768 6th -.028
2004 .706 28th .747 18th -.041
2005 .713 28th .704 26th .009
2006 .737 29th .761 15th -.024
2007 .755 19th .769 9th -.014
2008 .720 26th .695 26th .025
2009 .712 29th .719 18th -.007
2010 .623 30th .651 29th -.028
2011 .623 30th .658 30th -.035
2012 .562 30th .715 11th -.153

The .153 difference between home and road OPS in 2012, if it holds, will be the biggest in the 13 full seasons the M's have played at Safeco. The previous biggest was .082 in 2000. Back then, the M's actually had the best road OPS in MLB. They ranked 23rd at home.

We've also had two seasons where we actually hit better at home than on the road, 2005 and 2008, but the difference there was marginal, and our MLB rank for each was more-or-less the same.

The column that most depresses me? Our MLB rank for OPS at home. In only one season, the 116-win season in 2001, did the M's finish top 15 in Home OPS rank. Every other year? We're second division. Bottom 15. Bottom feeders. We've finished 28th, 29th or 30th seven times in the last nine years. We've been dead last every year for the last three years.

And on the road? We've been dead last once, and 28th, 29th or 30th only twice in the last nine.

Of course these stats merely back up what most M's fans know intuitively. The major point is that never has the discrepancy between home and road numbers been so great as in 2012. The question is why. Statistical anomaly? The extra cold Seattle spring versus the super warm weather elsewhere? The idea that the doldrums of playing at Safeco is getting into the heads of these young players as surely as it gets into mine watching them?

One thing is certain: The team you're watching at Safeco is, year after year, and regardless of what they do on the road, one of the worst offensive teams in Major League Baseball. That's where the conversation begins.

Safeco Field, empty seats

Safeco 2012: As the runs have disappeared, so have the fans.

Posted at 08:17 AM on Thursday July 12, 2012 in category Seattle Mariners  
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