September 19, 2010
The Incredible Badness of the Seattle MarinersAn article today at espn.com claimed that the Seattle Mariners are the worst-hitting team in major league history. They certainly are a bad team; to avoid 100 losses they'll have to play .500 baseball in their remaining 16 games, and I've seen no evidence that they are able to do that. We went to the game yesterday and in the first inning, after Ichiro beat out an infield single, the next batter sacrificed him to second. Really? In the first inning? But sure enough, with Cliff Lee pitching (for Texas, not us) the Mariners did nothing much the rest of the game, and we lost 6-1.
Their lineup really is a succession of .231 hitters giving way to .181 hitters, followed by somebody hitting .216. Out ninth batter last night, Josh Wilson, was hitting .241, which is sort of what you expect, except he actually had the fourth-best average in our starting lineup. Except for Ichiro, nobody on the whole team is hitting above .257. the most amazing statistic in the ESPN article is the claim that our designated hitters are hitting .190. Is there an option to decline the DH and let your pitchers hit? As the article says, "you still managed to field a lineup with more hackers than a convention of former Microsoft employees."
In other Mariners new, Felix Hernandez is having statistically the best season among AL pitchers; he's is in first place, although sometimes by a small amount, in every statistical category you can think of. Nonetheless, due to the anemic Mariners offense, some blown saves the bullpen, and bad luck (even among Mariners pitchers he has the worst run support), his record is 12-11. Comparing that to C.C. Sabathia's 20-6 record on a good team brings up the question of whether he has a chance of winning the Cy Young Award. I actually think David Price of Tampa Bay should win it; he is statistically ahead of Sabathia but behind Hernandez, but looking over his season log he has only had one really bad game, whereas Hernandez and Sabathia have had 3 or 4 each (one of which Sabathia actually won, due to Yankee bats bailing him out). But I suspect Sabathia will win it, unless Price gets to 20 wins (he's 17-6 right now) in which case it will probably come down to one of them pitching particularly well during next week's Tampa Bay-New York series, or failing that, whoever's team wins the AL East.
There has also been a bit of a dust-up because Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln is sad that Mariners fans think he's incompetent. In this case there is no doubt; Howard Lincoln is in fact a gigantic idiot. Forget the managers he has chosen or the players he has signed; the fundamental flaw is his persistent strategy of developing the farm system so he can trade young players for 33-year-old former stars. His current complaints, coupled with other weirdnesses like his statement that the Mariners didn't win the World Series in 2001 because of 9/11, only raise the question of whether he is merely terrible, or actually a kook.