In an effort to make sense of the ‘non-sensical’ mess that is the Seattle Mariners win-loss record this year, I have decided to explore in depth and share with you my findings.
I apologize ahead of time for using math in a baseball article.
Did you know that every time someone uses math in a baseball sense a sabermetrics fairy gets his wings?
The pythagorean theory in baseball was first used by sabermetrics expert Bill James to explain the non-linear relationship between a teams winning percentage and the runs scored – runs allowed statistic.
The formula can be broken down to win percentage = runs scored^2 divided by (runs scored^2 + runs allowed^2), then multiplying the win percentage by 162 games played in the season. What you end up with is the number of wins predicted in a season.
For a more accurate prediction, Baseball-Reference uses 1.83 as the exponent rather than 2. If you are awful at math like me, stick with squared.
Baseball Reference states that “Deviations from expected W-L are often attributed to the quality of a team’s bullpen, or more dubiously, “clutch play”; many sabermetrics advocates believe the deviations are the result of luck and random chance”.
So does this explain our record? You tell me..
The Mariners have scored 290 runs this season and have allowed 257, in turn giving us a winning percentage of .560 and a pythagorean record of 41-32. But here we are at 37-36.
In proving the geeks may be right on this, one of our biggest issues this season has been the bullpen.
Our bullpen has accounted for 13 losses in relief pitching situations and 8 blown save opportunities. 29% of base runners inherited by the relief pitcher coming on are scoring.
Look at Dominic Leone for example.. Leone has come on in relief 11 times this year with runners on base. 50% of the time those runners that are on base when he comes in, end up scoring. His ERA is not effected by that which causes his numbers to be a bit misleading.
I’m not in any way saying that a 2.75 SO/BB ratio is bad by any means but it does attest to the fact that relief pitchers coming in are not doing there job, which is keeping guys from scoring when our starters get themselves into a jam.
There has not been an extreme amount of pressure on the bullpen to perform. Our relievers show a combined 1.022 average leverage index (aLI) which factors in the inning, score, outs and players on base, right around the league average (1.026). Above 1 is more pressure, below 1 is less pressure. Fernando Rodney holds the highest aLI with a 2.022, 12th in the MLB.
This is not to take any blame away from the offensive side of the ball. Felix Hernandez last game marked back to back times that he pitched an absolute gem but could not get run support to save his life. We are near the bottom of every offensive statistical category in the American League.
Digging beyond the sabermetrics and the statistical nonsense, take a look at how we fare against opponents with losing records.
We are handing series wins to many sub .500 teams like Texas, Houston, Minnesota and Miami, while beating down teams with +.500 records like Anaheim and Atlanta. Heck we have even held our own against the best team in baseball, the Oakland A’s.
In such an up and down season, I keep forgetting that this team is showing us our best record this far in the season since 2011, a season in which we finished 67-95. The pythagorean W-L theory had the Mariners finishing that season at 67-95. Well done baseball gurus. I hope you are right this year, I would love to win more than 80 games.
What do you think of the Mariners near.500 record? Who is to blame? Do you feel that we have an honest chance at the postseason?