Welcome to the first blog of Skeeterbuggins Sports. Here we will be blogging about Northwest Sports from Pros to High School and everything in-between.
Let’s take a look at the Seattle Mariners and where they are after 25 games in this young season.
The Seattle Mariners are back after a 2022 season that saw them win 90 games for a second season in a row, make the playoffs as a wild card team, win a series in Toronto in 2 games, and challenge Houston in the 3 games they played for the ALDS, including the thrilling 18-inning 1-0 loss.
While the record overall is not amazing (11-14) nor does it inspire belief that this is a playoff team this year, there are some intriguing storylines here (remember its early but these are interesting to think about):
- Mariners are 3-7 this season in 1-run games. Over the first 10 games in 2022, the Mariners went 5-5 in 1-run games.
- In 2022, through 25 games, the Mariners were 12-13. This included a stretch where Seattle went 8-2 on a homestand.
Now, Let’s take a deeper dive into the stats of the 2023 Mariners and compare 2022 to 2023:
- Mariners are 13th in hitting in the AL (.223 Avg). They are also 10th in OPS with .676. Compared with 2022 at the finish, they were 6th in OPS at .705 and 14th in hitting with .230. Again, it is early, but let’s take a deeper look at this.
In 2022, the Mariners were 2nd in the AL with walks at 596 (NYY had 620). This allowed Seattle to capitalize on opportunites (more baserunners, more opportunies to score). Now in 2023, the numbers have shifted… Seattle is 11th in walks with 78 (BAL has 100). Couple this with a lower OPS, lower average and less opportunies with baserunners on base, the offense is effectively not as good in my opinion as 2022. That’s saying something when many of us felt that 2022 was not a great year on offense.
- Mariners are 4th in the AL in strikeouts with 234 (MIN has 244). The swing and miss is killing the team right now, especially when you have a BABIP of .275 (which isn’t great as is), but if you get the ball in play more, good things happen.
Now, I want to bring in some data that is intriguing to this point. This chart is based on percentile rankings. For reference, red is great, blue is bad and white is middle of the road.
If we look closely here, we can see a huge picture as to the struggles this team is facing. Looking at the K% column, the Mariners have 3 starters, not in the blue range. Add to that, only 3 in the are in the red for BB%. While it’s promosing that we have 6 starters not in the blue in Chase%, we have 3 power hitters who are chasing at an alarming rate (Julio, Teo and Pollock).
One set of stats that is bothering me, is Ty France right now (#3 in our batting order). He is currently not hitting the ball hard (18%), Barrels (26%) and Exit Velocity (11%). What is interesting to my point about putting the ball in play, he leads the team in K% (92%) which means by putting the ball in play at a high rate, which is yeilding some success for him.
Let’s compare to the top offense in the AL for a second so we can see where the Mariners need to go.
The Rays of Tampa have the top offense by far with a .280 average and a .868 OPS. Looking at the chart it is easy to see why. This is a team that is taking advantage of their ABs, Low K%, Decent BB%, Hard Hit Rates, Barrels, and EV.
While the Rays do leads in BABIP (.313), to me, this is indicative of putting the ball in play and letting things happen. As a team, they are 10th in the AL in Strikeouts (214) and 8th in Walks (86).
So to wrap up the offense, I feel if the Mariners get back to being a little more selective, lower the chasing, and focus on hitting their pitch in their ABs, the offense can flip this narrative in no time.
Pitching is going to be an interesting story to tell. The 2023 Mariners didn’t even get out of the gate without losing an arm from a rotation that many felt would be possibly one of the best if not the best in the AL when Robbie Ray left his first game of the year with what we now know is a season ending injury. So in essence, the rotation is now same as most of 2022 except we are exchanging Luis Castillo for Robbie Ray for our exercise today. Let’s dive in.
In traditional metrics vs 2022, the Mariners are as follows in the AL:
- 6th in ERA (3.72) vs 5th (3.59) in 2022
- 8th in WHIP (1.23) vs 5th (1.19) in 2022
- 7th in Opp. Batting Avg (.234) vs 6th (.235) in 2022
As a team there is nothing really alarming here that actually makes me pause when it comes to pitching. This team, even with Robbie Ray out is a strong staff overall (Rotation and Bullpen combined).
Now, we have entered the age of no shifts, bigger bases and the pitch clock which has been making our games more exciting on the field as the fielders have to play and our team, the Mariners, have stood up and risen to the top in this realm.
Currently, we are 2nd in MLB with 8 OAA (Outs Above Average), 2nd in Runs Prevented (6) and 5th in Success Rate (80%). Another interesting stat is as a team, the Mariners are 8th in Arm Strength at 98.2 (Brewers are 1st with 101.9).
Some individual standouts have included:
- Jarred Kelenic is 5th amongst LFs in Out Above Average Analysis.
- Teoscar Hernandez is 4th amongst RFs in Outs Above Average Analysis.
Next 25 Games
For the next 25 games, the Mariners need to make the most adjustments at the plate.
- Work on their AB approach in regards to pitch selection. I think just adding a little selection to this process will result in better things overall. This is more mental then anything else. This even applies to Ty France and his struggles to get barrel. A little more selection and we will see power from him and more production.
- Need to address 7-8 in the lineup. Right now, as the chart is showing above, the DH and 2B are the weak points when it comes to the offense. If those spots can right the ship, this team can flip the 11-14 to 14-11 easily.
- The final issue, which I didn’t address at all, is what to do with Robbie Ray’s spot in the rotation. Chris Flexen has the spot currently, but has had his struggles in that position, especially with the new rules affecting his approach of pitching to contact. This approach would work if he had stuff that made you miss barrel just enough to create outs. Unfortnately, he has not shown that this year. The problem… what do to do with the spot. Is it Bryce Miller time? Is there something available on the market? I predict we will see Bryce Miller before I do the next 25 game analysis is what I see happening, much like we saw George Kirby come up for Seattle last year in May and Logan Gilbert the year before.
So we will revisit this team in 25 games as they start game 26 tonight vs the Toronto Blue Jays at 4 PM PT on Root Sports Plus or your local radio station.