Saturday, April 12, 2008

45 or 6-2-4

I've discussed this before, but in the absolute sense, is strong pitching enough to overcome weak hitting on a baseball team?

Through the first 11 games of the year, prized #1 starter Eric Bedard has performed fairly well in his first two starts: 1-0, 3.27, 10 K's in 11 IP. His control has been off (8 BB's), though he's never been known as that type of pitcher anyway. If career stats are any indicator, he should end up averaging about half that many walks over the full season. Led by Bedard and King Felix, the Mariners' pitching staff is currently 7th in the AL in ERA (3.99), 5th in K's, third-highest in BB's, and tied for second-worst in HR's allowed. I don't believe these cumulative numbers satisfy the "strong" premise of the thread as of yet, but it's early.

Brad Wilkerson, Kenji Johjima and Jose Lopez represent a cross-section of an offense that is hitting an anemic .237 so far - last in the American League. Wilkerson is at .148/.185/.324, Johjima .100/.133/.206 and the red-hot Lopez .308/.341/.513. Other key team metrics include being tied for third in HR's (13), 7th in runs (48), 8th in slugging, 8th in SB's and T-1 in BB's. Other than BA, the rest of the numbers wallow in general mediocrity.

So what is the lesson learned? Nothing - it's too early to tell. The bullpen has skewed some of the pitching stats the wrong way, whereas certain cold bats have done the same offensively. However, amidst the jumble appear to be certain stats that may be bellwethers for later in the season: team speed, batting average, slugging percentage. Nobody who follows this team would be particularly surprised to see them continue to struggle in these areas. What will be very interesting to see is if baseball, circa 2008, can work as it did in the 1960's, when pitching could lead a team to the promised land. As the steroid era slams shut and the home run diminishes in importance, it's gone from a de minimis possibility to unknown territory. The Mariners had better hope so, as they've banked their season on it - not to mention a big chunk of their future.

That is, unless they juice the balls once again. Chicks dig the long ball.


At 3:52 AM, Blogger Batty said...

I don't think Walt has a clue about what chicks dig. ;P

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Walter said...

Sure, I do. Top of the list: money. Second ...

*still thinking*

At 5:23 AM, Blogger Tad said...

Sense of humor? Please say sense of humor!

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Batty said...

Humor definately. Money not so much. But I married a funny artist so I don't think my opinion counts in this matter. I don't get a hard on over good pitching like you guys but I do prefer little ball to homers. Get guys on base and bring them home a few at a time. Makes the inning exciting and makes their pitcher wear himself out. Don't get me wrong, I'll take a homer, but more often then not it doesn't win games. Little ball and pitching is where the magic happens. That's just me.


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