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Looking Ahead and a Sample

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So, first off, I wanted to address a few "housekeeping" type things.

1. My current "column" of sorts here is the power rankings, and I do enjoy putting them together. The comments I write, however, tend to be just basic observations, and there's rarely any opportunity for real, actual analysis.
2. For the rest of the year, I will continue to put together the BTB Power 30.
3. For next year, as of now, I will continue to put together the Power 30, but I will only post them as standings without comments, rather than the typical list.
4. My "column" will become something that examines an individual team with a bit more focus than just hitting on a small bit from every team, each week. There are only so many small bits I feel that I can hit without being mind numbingly repetitive, and I'd like to avoid that.
5. That's all for next year. Here's the sort of thing I'd like to do, though...

Looking through the Stat-Colored Glasses: Seattle Mariners

My first (and last, for this year) installment of "SCG" is about the Seattle Mariners. I don't watch the Mariners very often, of course, but I feel that there's a lot that can be learned by just looking at numbers. We can't tell the whole story with numbers, but it's a better story with numbers than exclusively with just what we see.

We'll start out with something that looks as good as the numbers, though...

Felix Hernandez has been as close to a god as one would think possible for a 19 year old rookie. Let's take a look at the most popular comparison:

Felix Hernandez, 1st 7 starts: 51 IP, 31 H, 10 R, 4 HR, 10 BB, 50 K
Dwight Gooden, 1st 7 starts: 38.2 IP, 31 H, 21 R, 0 HR, 19 BB, 51 K

Doctor K's got the strikeouts and homers, but across the board, Felix has been better. The control is the biggest surprise for me, and, as I've mentioned, the fact that he's getting so many groundballs is just astounding.

Opponents have a .474 OPS against King Felix. We've only witnessed 1 amazing run of 7 starts, but the hype that has been bestowed on this kid all year might just have been right.

From the LA Times:

"We're aware that [Morse] has said publicly the results are unfair," MLB vice president Rob Manfred said. "The fact is, the players know when they use steroids they're going to be disciplined. They are responsible for what is in their bodies."

Assuming that Michael Morse's story is true, this is an outrageous problem in the system. The usage of the steroids was wrong, but seriously... aren't there legal rights involved in this? It's like a guy getting arrested, finishing his sentence, and then getting thrown back in jail for the same crime.

What was Morse supposed to do to remedy this besides "not taking them in the first place?" There has to be a better understanding of the nature of the drugs, I think, before any steroid policy becomes really effectual. I don't know much about steroids, to be honest, and I frankly don't have much of an opinion on the issue. But I do believe that Morse is getting a bit of a raw deal, here.

I criticized the Mariners a great deal for the Richie Sexson signing, but so far, it's looking very, very good. His .260/.361/.531 line is the product of a real "three true outcomes" (TTO) hitter.

PLAYER          TTO%

A. Dunn         47.6%
J. Edmonds      46.0%
J. Giambi       45.1%
R. Sexson       45.0%
D. Dellucci     43.8%
P. Burrell      43.6%
T. Glaus        42.0%
M. Ensberg      39.1%
T. Hafner       38.8%
P. Wilson       38.6%
That's the top 10 among players with 400 or more PAs. (Russ Branyan blows away the field if the standard is lowered to 100 PAs with a 54.2% TTO%.)

What's up with Ichiro?

2004: .372/.414/.455 (.188)
2005: .297/.344/.442 (.253)

In parenthesis, you can see the full story, really. So much of Ichiro's productivity last year came from singles. The number in parenthesis is the secondary average. His .253 this year isn't bad, but it's not particularly good enough for a wholesale reinvention of his game.

I've heard for a few years now that Ichiro "could be a power hitter" if he played his game that way. Now, I have to ask: is this the fruit of that? Because if it is, the old Ichiro's a better player and a more exciting player. It's difficult to sustain a .372 batting average, but Ichiro is a career .332 hitter in a sample of 3,587 plate apperances. I can't explain it. Maybe David Gassko can; his explanations are as good as any. We'll know a lot more 12 months from now, though.

There just aren't all that many positives to take from Adrian Beltre's unbelievably bad first season in Seattle. His .258/.302/.425 line is just barely above the .241/.295/.422 10th percentile PECOTA forecast, but, in some senses, he's been even worse than that. He's walking less than even the most dire of predictions, and his isolated power of .167 is below the 10th percentile forecast.

The scary thing, though, is how out of nowhere last season was for Beltre, who ultimately vindicated the fantasy players who love searching for "contract seasons."

YEAR    AVG     XBH/AB  BB/PA

1999    .275    .087    .100    
2000    .290    .102    .098
2001    .265    .082    .055
2002    .257    .089    .058
2003    .240    .098    .061
2004    .334    .134    .081
2005    .258    .095    .054
Which one looks different than the others? I will never be able to explain where that came from (any number of stats will tell you something similar... OPS, SLG, whatever), but it's sometimes amazing how easy it is to get caught up in fulfilled hype. Because that's what it was with Beltre. Beltre had been one of the league's most hyped players for years, but various setbacks kept him from reaching his potential, until that illustrious contract season.

For those of you who were wondering, Jeremy Reed has been in the majors this year, and the results just haven't been good. He has no real power to speak of and he's only hit .256/.324/.354 this season. Realize that this was the same guy who hit .409 in AA in 2003, the same guy who hit .397 in a brief call-up last year.

I don't know... it's tough to predict failure for a guy who hit so well in the minors. This could just be a very long cold streak for the kid. Plus, he's from San Dimas, CA. How can he go wrong?