Sean White was, as the generic sports commentator might say, a silent assassin in 2009. Not much was expected of him entering the season, and he turned out to be the missing piece to the M’s relief triumvirate – White in the 7th, Lowe in the 8th, and Aardsma in the 9th.
White quietly put together a great season, though he was far from the prototypical shut-down reliever; he excelled without striking anyone out. White’s K/9 was an earth-shattering…… 3.92. It wasn’t like he put up Maddux-like walk totals either – his BB/9 was 2.80. Oh, and in addition to his 6.1 swinging strike percentage, his arsenal of pitches was slightly-above-average at best. That said, Sean White sure sounds like Carlos Silva, doesn’t he?
So why the heck was Sean White so effective? White was a groundball machine this year. Over 48 percent of balls hit in play against him were groundballs. Strangely enough, White’s groundballingness actually decreased from his 2007 debut, when a whopping 52 percent of his pitches hit in play were hit on the ground. Personally, I think that the lack of Yuniesky Betancourt and Miguel Cairo and the addition of Jack Wilson and Jack Hannahan certainly helped his cause. White also posted a 3.86 FIP and a 3.99 tRA. Opposing batters hit a measly .216 off him, and, though he couldn’t buy a strikeout to save his life, over 62% of his pitches went for strikes.
There’s only one problem with Sean White. Unfortunately, this problem plagues the rest of the Mariners bullpen as currently constituted – Sean White is not left-handed.
But ultimately, White was worth almost a full win, and for a rebuilding M’s squad, every little bit helped.