Pump the brakes Mariners fans.
The Mariners have stumbled out of the gate and have looked very “2015” in their home games so far. They have yet to win a game at Safeco Field due in part to a lack of timely hitting. Once again, the M’s wasted a brilliant start by King Felix. So naturally, it’s time to move on to Seahawks season and fishing season here in Seattle right?
Pull back on the reins a bit. At least until a week after Mother’s Day.
I usually give teams until about Mother’s Day to really react (and overreact) about where any team stands. Any earlier and the sample size is simply too small. In statistics, a small sample size can skew data and give us bum results and projections for future trends. Mother’s Day is early this year, so let’s give the Mariners until about game #40, on May 19th.
There are several examples of teams who were mediocre or worse through the first month of the season and went on to succeed later that year.
Take last season for example. On May 1st, the eventual American League East champion Toronto Blue Jays were in last place at 11-13. You can even look at the Mariners’ own division and see that on that same day, the Texas Rangers were 8 1/2 games back and in last place at 7-15. We all know they turned it around and won the division. By the end of May, both the Blue Jays and Rangers had risen from the cellar and the Rangers were even back to .500.
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It’s natural to want to judge a team on the first few games, because that’s the only sample we have of the 2016 version of the Seattle Mariners. Take these first few weeks in stride. Wait for BABIP (batting average of balls in play) to even out. The Mariners have the worst number in the big leagues at .234. That number is just as unsustainable as the Pirates’ MLB-leading .381 BABIP. Those numbers usually level out during the season.
To put the Mariners’ BABIP into perspective to show it will eventually even out, the worst BABIP team last season was the Angels at .280. The San Diego Padres of 2014 were historically bad at hitting, but their BABIP was still .277, 43 points higher than the Mariners’ current number. The M’s will bounce back on offense. They are not striking out at an alarming rate, they have 55 this season which is just one above the league average.
Robinson Cano started off hot, but we all knew he wouldn’t hit 216 home runs (which is what his pace was after three games). What makes a 2-5 start any different? Baseball is a crazy sport, with wins and losses sometimes being decided by one bad pitch, one bad swing or one misplayed ground ball. It takes a while for things to even out and the true character of a team to show.