The Seattle Mariners are a better team than their record shows. They are in the top three in total home runs in the American League, they have a Cy Young caliber pitcher at the top of the rotation, and they have an assortment of young, phenom-level talent that fleshes out their order.
So, with all the positive qualities the Mariner’s possess, why do they lose so consistently?
Why are they just as likely to get swept in a series as they are to sweep a series?
The Mariners are currently 53-61, which is a .465 winning percentage. Through those 114 games, they have scored 466 runs but given up 524, which is a .471 run differential, right in line with what their record has produced.
Of those 524 runs, 487 were earned runs (not caused by fielding errors), which puts the adjusted run differential at .489… the equivalent to 55-56 wins.
So, what does this mean? Do the Mariners need to score more, or give up less runs?
Looking at the season as a whole, the answer would be a little bit of both. However, since the emergence of Brad Miller and Nick Franklin at the top of the lineup, the Mariners have manufactured runs more consistently than they have in years. That has been the key… the manufacturing of runs.
As mentioned, the Mariners are already among the team league leaders in home runs.
Power isn’t the issue.
The problem was, no one was ever on base, or when the power was missing, the team was incapable of playing any type of small ball.
For the entire season, 139 of the 466 runs were home runs (the number does not include base runners at the time of the home run). Those numbers equal 4.09 runs per game and 1.22 home runs per game.
However, in the 19 games since the All-Star break, the Mariners have scored 93 runs, of which 24 were home runs.
So while their home runs per game have slightly gone up to 1.26, their runs per game have jumped up to 4.89.
So what does that number mean?
If the Mariners played like they have since the ASB all season, even with the pitching deficiencies, they would have scored 557 runs, which is a .515 run differential (.534 adjusted).
That is a 59-55 record (61-53 adjusted).
That would put them in the range of 4-6 games behind the ALW lead and 3-4 games in the wild card race. These aren’t even perfectly lined-up, what ifs I’m talking about here.
No, this is based solely off how the team is actually performing, now, on a daily basis.
So what do they need to do to take the next step?
For starters, do not resign either Raul Ibanez or Michael Morse. Even though Ibanez has contributed 24 home runs, none have been since the ASB. With an age-related decline even more likely next year, he will likely never match similar production again.
Add to the fact that his -1.6 dWar (defensive wins above replacement) is the second worst on the team, and the writing on the wall is all too clear. As for Morse, he has only contributed 12hr / 26 RBI all year, and has the team’s worse dWar at -1.7.
I don’t care how much Mariner’s blue he bleeds, the team is better off without him.
Offensively, it would be a great idea to resign Kendrys Morales, one more outfielder, and perhaps another option at backup catcher in the off season.
The team will score runs on a more consistent basis and offer superior fielding.
From there, the rest of the focus can be on the pitching staff… the true deficient area on the team.