We know that Spring Training differs from the Regular Season in several ways, so it may or may not predict the 2023 regular season. First, it is held in primarily warm places. Soon the Mariners' players will be contending with Seattle's Spring weather as well as April in Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Toronto. Second, the games in Arizona feature a mix of players, some from the starting lineup and others from the Mariners’ affiliate teams in Tacoma, Modesto, Everett, and Arkansas. Third, while some Mariner followers attend Spring Training games, the players lack their loud, supportive fans at T-Mobile Park.
Let’s see how the Mariners did, statistically, in relation to their AL West rivals. Note that the Mariners, the Angels, and the Rangers played 30 games; Oakland played 31 games; and the Astros played 28 games, so some statistics may reflect these differences.
SEA - 30
HOU - 28
TEX - 30
LAA - 30
OAK - 31
SB Stolen Bases
OPS (AVG + SLG)
When I see these statistics, I suspect that our division will be competitive this season. Since we do not know how the teams played starters and prospects, it is difficult to know how these numbers will translate into the regular season games. I do not think that one more game can account for how many of the Oakland statistics are in the top three: eight out of nine. This may mean that Oakland will be a tough opponent offensively.
All of the Angels’ numbers are in the top three with their averages (AVG and OPS) being quite a bit higher than the rest. We know that they have a powerful lineup at bat and will find out by this time next week what the starting lineup has in store for us.
The Rangers are also looking good. While I know that they added to their pitching lineup, these numbers suggest that their batters may challenge our pitching staff. We know that Houston has good batters. Their numbers suggest that a two or three game difference may have skewed their stats, that Florida humidity makes a difference, or that they used their starters sparingly. I am surprised that their .AVG and .OPS are so low since these numbers do not depend on the number of games played.
The Mariners’ stats are relatively low, given the number of games played. I do like that the triples and home runs are in the top three as well as stolen bases. I do not think that Scott Servais overplayed our starters, giving prospective players a good deal of playing time. How will this translate during the season? I do not know, but am looking foward to finding out.
Defense: Pitching Statistics
Note that these statistics do not include numbers for fielding, the activity of the infield and outfield players, except as they contribute to the pitching numbers. IP is Innings Pitched: A BB is a walk; SO is a strikeout; WHIP is Walk and Hit Average for Innings Pitched; the AVG reflects the numbers that the opponents' batters had. ERA is Earned Run Average or the number of runs allowed/9 innings.
With the exception of strikeouts, lower statistics are better since these stats reflect what pitchers allowed from the other team.
SEA - 30
HOU - 28
TEX - 30
LAA - 30
OAK - 31
I think that these numbers (6 out of 7 statistics in the top 3) for the Mariners reflect the strength of our starting pitchers, relieving pitchers, and pitchers in the Mariners’ minor league teams. Our pitchers will cause our opponents' batters some grief.
While the Houston numbers for runs, homeruns, and walks may be lower due to playing fewer games, the WHIP and AVG are percentages and do not depend on the number of games played. It is no surprise that Houston looks good in the pitching category.
All of the Angels statistics are in the top three. They have strong pitchers, some of whom we saw in the World Baseball Classic. Our batters should be ready for some challenging pitches coming from them.
I would have anticipated stronger numbers from the Rangers since they have acquired some well-known pitchers. We will see what happens when the Mariners play them in the regular season. Oakland’s statistics for hitting are much stronger than for pitching.
I know I want to revisit these statistics when we have played each of these teams once and then twice. The comparisons may tell which of the statistics are unique to Spring Training and which are reflections of each team’s strengths and weaknesses.