Is the Mariners King Felix getting squeezed out of run support?

The numbers say otherwise

The subject of Felix Hernandez and the lack of run support the Seattle Mariners are giving him is such an interesting subject of conversation because of the preconceived notions that are attached to them.

Preconceived notions? Absolutely!

Before you start asking, I already know.

Since the beginning of 2009, the Mariners offense has only given Hernandez 2 or less runs in 39 starts (22% of his starts since 2009), and while it does seem like an awfully high number of starts, you have to consider that Hernandez made 108 starts in that time frame.

Ken Griffey + Ichiro

Felix could use these two in their prime's right about now.

Moreover, Hernandez received 3 or more runs per start in the other 69 starts (64% of his starts) during the same time frame.  That’s 9 starts shy of being double the amount of starts in which Felix has received more run support than not.

An interesting side note about those 39 starts (36% of his starts); there are 15 games (14% of his starts) in which Felix Hernandez was hit hard or failed to get out of the 5th inning.

Hernandez gave up 63 runs in those 15 games (4.2 RPG) which leaves a total of 24 starts (out of 108 -22%) in which the offense failed to back up a Hernandez start in which he pitched lights-out.

This is why there is a preconceived notion

Because regardless of the total lack of offense the Mariners have had over the last two seasons (513 and 556 runs scored in 2010-11),  it’s just an excuse. Felix Hernandez has still been able to receive ample runs to win the majority of his games in the innings per start he has averaged.

  • 2009 – 33 starts, 238.2 IP (7.2 IP per start), 66 ER (2 RPS) – offense scored – 148 runs (4.5 runs per start)
  • 2010 – 34 starts, 249.2 IP (8 IP per start), 63 ER (1.8 RPS) – offense scored – 104 runs (3 runs per start)
  • 2011 – 33 starts, 233.2 IP (7 IP per start), 90 ER (2.7 RPS) – offense scored – 120 runs (3.6 runs per start)
  • 2012 – 8 starts, 59 IP (8 IP per start), 15 ER (1.8 RPS) – offense scored – 32 runs (4 runs per start)

Looking at these numbers, two things should jump out at you

#1. Felix Hernandez is a dominant pitcher (despite only receiving 3 runs per start in 2010, Felix Hernandez won the American League Cy Young Award with a 13-12 record).

Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Is Felix getting squeezed out of run support? (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

#2. The offense has given Hernandez 3.7 runs per start since 2009. Considering Hernandez is only giving up 2 runs per start over the same time period, his average game is a 4-2 win while pitching 8 innings per start.

Those numbers should be good enough to win more than 50% of  his starts. So why isn’t his win total an high as it should be?. Remember those 39 starts in which the offense gave Hernandez 2 runs or less?

For 15 of those starts Hernandez just didn’t have his stuff.

That accounts for 15 of his 33 losses or 45% percent of his losses. The remaining 24 games (or 22% of his starts) were littered with no-decisions or situations in which the bullpen couldn’t hold a lead or flat out blew a Hernandez win.

That’s the reality of the situation

Only in 22% of the starts that Hernandez has made since 2009 was there an actual lack of run support.

That’s a big contradiction to what we have perceived or what we’ve been told.

In actuality, Hernandez has been given enough runs  to win in 64% of the games in which he has pitched in.

There is no doubt the offense has been terrible. We know that to be true but again, despite the horrible numbers, the Mariners lineup has given Felix 3.7 runs per start.

Of course it’s not the 9.2 runs per game Derek Holland received or the 8.8 runs runs per game Rick Porcello had in 2011, but the 4 runs per game might as well be 9 runs of  support considering everything that has been stacked against Hernandez since 2009.


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