We are a week into the 2014 season and the Seattle Mariners have already seen a lot. Four wins, two losses. One extra-innings loss, one rain out, an example of when intentionally walking Robinson Cano works for the other team and one where it doesn’t. The M’s have scored 10 runs in a game. The list is long.
But how much stock can we put in a 6-game sample? Six games does not a season make, but can you derive potential success or failure from the sample size? Let’s take a look at some interesting numbers and see if we can derive anything.
History shows that the Mariners have started off the season 4-2 or better ten times. In those ten seasons, the Mariners finished with a winning record four of those times. For the optimists out there, those four seasons were the most recent four seasons where they started 4-2 or better. Take a look at the chart below.
RECORD AFTER 6 GAMES
So as you can see, a 4-2 start can end in anything from 103 losses to 116 wins and just about everything in between. It is worth noting however that a Mariners team starting less than 4-2 has only finished with a winning record five times.
So nothing truly can be derived simply from record. What about runs scored and allowed? The Mariners start the young season having scored 34 runs and allowing 18. Using the pythagorean theorem of baseball, if the Mariners were to maintain that ratio over the course of the season, you could project them to win 126 games.
Now that is simply ridiculous. The Mariners, or any team for that matter, are not going to win 126 games this or any season. But if we take the average of the two series, we get a better view as to what we are dealing with.
The Mariners scored 26 runs against the Angels and allowed eight. In the series with Oakland, they scored eight runs and allowed ten. So take the average of a 148-win season and a 63-win season and we get 105.5.
So is it possible that the Mariners are actually on pace to win 105 games? Let’s look realistically at the schedule and see how many series may end up like the Angels series and how many may end up like the A’s one.
The Mariners play 76 more games against teams that would similarly match up like the Angels and 80 more games against teams that similarly match up like the Athletics. Not this is not a scientific process, it is simple, very simple hypothesis.
If the Mariners maintain a similar ratio of runs scored to runs allowed in games against similar opponents throughout the entire 2014 season, I project the team to finish with a record anywhere between 94 and 105 wins.
Again, this is all based on a six-game sample in which several good things came to light and several weaknesses came to light.
What Have We Learned?
This team has several questions. None more apparent than what to do with Kyle Seager. Seager has two hits in his first 18 at-bats with seven strikeouts
and he just plain looks uncomfortable. There are several options for skipper Lloyd McClendon to consider.
One- Send Kyle to Tacoma to get some reps, work on his swing and build confidence again. It worked last year for Dustin Ackley. In the interim, Mac could use Willie Bloomquist or even Stefen Romero at third.
Two- Bring up Nick Franklin to play 3rd. The transition from short to third is well documented in baseball history. They kept him for a reason and I don’t necessarily believe it’s as trade bait. Bringing Franklin up to play 3rd opens up the possibility of trading Seager or allowing him time in Tacoma to work on his swing.
Three- Ride it out with Seager. Keep letting him try to right himself with the big club and hope things turn around.
Seager isn’t the only one with problems. Corey Hart, Logan Morrison and Michael Saunders are all hitting below the Mendoza line with Seager. The four are a combined 9-for-61 (.148) with one homer, 3 RBI and 18 K’s.
Another thing we haven’t seen yet, a Robinson Cano homer. He didn’t hit a single one in Spring Training and hasn’t hit one yet in 23 at-bats. This club has eight in the first six games and none are from Cano. He is leading the team with his .391 average and .500 on-base percentage, so I don’t think anyone is complaining.
As for the pitching, we got rid of our main problem in Hector Noesi. But Charlie Furbush had a rough outing and Erasmo Ramirez struggled in his second start. The bright spot is that seven Mariners pitchers have combined to throw 20 IP without allowing an earned run – Tom Wilhelmsen allowed a run but it was unearned.
That brings me to the defense. This team has three official errors (Cano, Seager and Brad Miller) but there have been a few miscues in the outfield by Ackley and Abraham Almonte that could turn into bigger problems if they persist. It’s probably just a matter of time before they get comfortable out there again, and part of it is the aggressive style of play demanded by the skipper. But if I see Almonte go for a ball again only to watch it drop five feet to his left and bounce 40 feet behind him, I may need to get a new television.
So overall, it’s been a fun six games to watch. Even the losses were good games. I am looking forward to this first home stand as I know you all are as well. So, can anything be learned from six games? Maybe, maybe not.
But I guess that’s why they play 162.