There is something about the Mariners and the National League that has always made sense. The Mariners are a team that has pitched-first, and asked questions later for several years. Those questions have usually had to do with whether or not their offense would be of adequate quality to compete for a playoff appearance. The answer has been no every time for quite some time.
Coor’s Field will do a lot to make even the worst offenses feel good about themselves. The outfield is expansive, and the ball carries. As such, outfielders must play very deep, which makes line drives and short fly balls to the outfield hits more often than in other stadiums. Also, because the ball carries homeruns are more common. Apparently, so are Brendan Ryan triples.
Two things happened on the Brendan Ryan triple—which followed a basically equally well-hit ball by Michael Saunders that was caught by Dexter Fowler—first, Ryan’s hit carried way more than it would have in Safeco Field. Second, despite the conditions created by the elevation at Coor’s Field the Rockies outfield was playing Ryan quite shallow. But Ryan had two hits today. Ryan isn’t going to be Alex Rodriguez at the plate, hell, he won’t even be Yuniesky Betancourt, but he isn’t Betancourt in the field either. Rather, he’s amazing in the field.
Kyle Seager is still hot. I feel like that is the kind of sentence that doesn’t belong on a sports blog. I feel like it should be in the middle of some generic men’s magazine with Cindy Crawford or Raquel Welch in place of Kyle Seager. Now I feel weird about saying that about Kyle Seager.
Seager hit his fifth homerun today. Seager has been 11 percent better than a league average third baseman so far this season offensively, all while running out a sustainable BABIP, a manageable strikeout rate, and playing great defense. Seager has been worth close to a half-win in the field, and has been worth 1.2 wins on the season. There is no doubt that Seager is the MVP of the Mariners to this point in the season. There’s also no tangible reason at this point to be sure he can’t keep it up. He’s hitting well, but he’s doing it without loads of statistical luck on his side. The only reason to believe Kyle Seager will regress in the second half of the season is if you don’t believe that Kyle Seager is as good a player as he’s shown to be in this first month-and-a-half. I still tend to think that, but I’m in the process of being persuaded not to think of him that way.
A day after Kevin Millwood pitched the best game of any Mariner this season according to Bill James game score (89), Jason Vargas turned in a pretty good effort of his own, though his game score (55) may not completely agree.
In Millwood’s case he was able to get ahead in many counts and use his curveball and offspeed pitches at will. That led to 12 ground ball outs and seven strikeouts in nine innings. A total of 19 “good process” outs. Vargas’ case was much different, as he struck out only one hitter, and got only eight groundball outs compared to 12 fly ball outs. Fly balls are bad news in Colorado, and Zombie Jason Giambi, Willin Rosario, and Jordan Pacheco made Vargas pay for his sins in the seventh inning.
The bullpen continues to be a bit of an adventure, and as much of a positive regression candidate as Steve Delabar seemed like in the first month of the season, he’s been pretty awful of late. Eventually Stephen Pryor will take somebody’s spot on the big league roster, let’s hope it will be as a result of the Mariners trading Brandon League for something worth a lot more than League is worth, because otherwise it means that the Mariners will be one man down in their bullpen.
Michael Saunders continues to show that he can be an ok center fielder. He’s a great fielder, but the position doesn’t typically boast a bunch of stud hitters. Saunders isn’t a stud hitter. He’s about a notch above average according to wOBA this year so far, though, and that’s got a ton of value on any MLB team. I’m not totally sold on the idea that Saunders has figured out how to be a good MLB hitter, but I’m a lot more willing to let him figure it out at the big league level if he’s player center field than if he’s playing one of the corners. The Mariners have no big-league ready replacement for him, which means you’re either looking at the expected massive platoon splits of Casper Wells in left, the whiffing ways of Trayvon Robinson, or the potential to have a very nice, patient hitting center fielder in the future. Michael Saunders could be like the prospect that Jeremy Reed was supposed to be before we realized he was an awful hitter and had limited range.