May 6, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (22) follows through on his swing for a single during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Didn’t I hear something about the Seattle Mariners being really good this season? Wasn’t there something about winning the division, the pennant or even the World Series?
I thought I heard talk of that. Perhaps I misunderstood.
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Right now, the Mariners are in sole possession of…the cellar. You can crunch all the analytics you want, and the various statistical measurements are a valuable way to dissect what is happening with a particular player or team.
That said, sports comes down to two little letters. Those letters are ‘W’ and ‘L.’ Right now those letters have corresponding numbers of 11 and 17.
You don’t have to be a statistician to see that the Mariners just aren’t getting it done. The reasons are numerous. Inconsistent starters. Unreliable bullpen. Inability to hit with runners in scoring position.
For all the complexities of data analysis, baseball remains a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.
As my colleague Max Carter astutely pointed out, the Mariners have a lot of questions. They have made some roster moves recently, but those transactions will not necessarily provide a ton of answers.
I have one question. Obviously baseball is a team game, but is there one person who is going to provide a spark to this team? Will someone fire up the squad and inspire better play throughout the roster?
The tough reality is that Nelson Cruz has theoretically been providing that kind of inspiring performance throughout the first six weeks of the season. He will undoubtedly come crashing back to earth at some point, and unfortunately his power surge does not seem to have translated to overall team hitting.
In baseball you could argue that offense is all about a team’s ability to get on base. The Mariners are tied for fourth in the league in team home runs (35), but that is largely a meaningless number since they are 27th in on-base percentage (.289).
The main offenders are not hard to figure out. Mike Zunino and his 31 strikeouts is getting on base at a .258 clip, while Dustin Ackley is actually the biggest problem amongst the regular lineup with his .211 OBP. Yikes.
Is there any help on the horizon? Do the Mariners have a hot-hitting prospect in the minors that will take the league by storm and inspire this team to offensive greatness? Given the recent track record of the farm system and Seattle’s inability to develop impactful young hitters, that seems unlikely.
Again, this has to be a team effort, but someone has to step up. Will it be Robinson Cano, who isn’t exactly swinging the bat like he is making $24 million? Will it be Kyle Seager, who is having at best an adequate season? What about Logan Morrison, who was so hot at the end of 2014 and now looks like…Logan Morrison?
For all the complexities of data analysis, baseball remains a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball
The difficult reality of this team is that we have seen this movie before. The Mariners just have too many hitters that are strictly average, or not even worthy of that lofty label. We can hope the pitching staff will eventually get it together, but at some point this team has to score runs. Sadly, Jack Zduriencik has built a team that may have a limited ceiling.
We all got excited after the Mariners fell one game short of the playoffs last season. Perhaps too excited. Right now, the Mariners are in the basement and they deserve to be there. It is still relatively early in the season, but we are already seeing a lot of issues. This team needs a spark, and it may not be coming.