If the Mariners offense can’t plate runs, then the pitching sure will. After a 10-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Monday, the Mariners have now given up 56 runs in their last seven contests.
It brings their previously third best total in baseball of 3.46 runs per game up to 3.84.
The club is driving the 2011 season for the second lowest total run production in any of its 162-game seasons ‘” 532. The Mariners scored a club record low 513 runs in a 162-game season last year, and 426 in 1981.
Sadly, Mariners’ pitchers give the team quality innings in almost every game, some of the best in the bigs.
Yet, what if the Mariners could score exactly four runs every game, or five?
They could be contending, or even better, best in the AL.
If by some magical occurrence the Mariners scored exactly four runs in every game, they would be 54-48, third place in the AL West, and 3.5 games back of division leading Texas. At exactly five runs per game, they would be 64-38, first in the AL West, and first in the AL with the second best record in the Majors.
Instead, they have the coffin of the AL West, and fifth worst record in baseball. Only one other team holding a last place spot in its division has given up less runs ‘” San Diego.
No other division cellar team has given up less than 449, or 4.4 runs per game, which really means the blame falls on the offense.
The last time the Mariners scored almost four runs per game was 2009 when it produced 640 runs, or 3.95 runs per game. In 2007, the club scored almost five runs per game at scoring 794 runs, or 4.9 runs per game
They also gave up 692 and 813 runs those years, respectively, allowing more runs than they score, but also finished 2009 and 2007 at 85-77 and 88-74, respectively.
So, what’s missing? Power.
In 2009, Seattle stocked its lineup with five double digit homerun hitters: Russell Branyan (31), Jose Lopez (25), Ken Griffey Jr.(19), Franklin Gutierrez (18), and Ichiro (no typo) with 11.
If the time split at DH is included and Griffey’s numbers combine with Mike Sweeney’s, it gives the Mariners 27 HRs from DH that year.
They also hit just .258.
In 2007, they hit 153 HRs and .287. The 2003 campaign saw the Mariners hit 139 HRs, 2002 -152 HRs, 2001 ‘” 169, and 2000 ‘” 198. Each year was a winning season.
Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo are the M’s main power threats this year. Smoak (12 HR) has potential while Olivo (13 HR) is declining. Dustin Ackley is developing, and in time, Carlos Peguerro might be a legitimate power guy, too.
What the M’s need are two power hitters to plug into the lineup, guys who will hit 20 or 30+ HRs, easily. Even if no one gets on base for them, one extra solo shot a game raises the M’s total run production by a run to 4.28 runs scored per game.
Given that, the M’s could be a few games back.
Of course, no offense will score exactly four or even five runs per game. The above example is just given theory. It also ignored any games where ties would result with exactly four or five runs.
Considering the Mariners record of 16-18 in one-run games, it’s fair to say they’d split them anyway.
Power hitters supply added protection in a lineup. That should at least boost the batting average a little. Even if it doesn’t, there’s still a hitter, or two, coming up bound not to leave anyone on base ‘” especially himself.
So how does Seattle get those players? Time and money.
There’s no need to make any big trades before the deadline, and no need to trade away any valuable pitching for some player that might provide a boost for the rest of 2011 before departing the Pacific Northwest for free agency.
The Mariners need to open wallets this off-season and find two players that they can bring in without hurting the defense. With split time between players in LF this year and Jack Cust’s play at DH, those are the best two positions to fill.
Though, even third basemen Chone Figgins could be wearing a different jersey soon.
With two power hitters, the Mariners could be contending for more than a fight out from the cellar. Instead, they could be well in the lead and shutting the doors on the teams trying to push their way out.
(Sources: http://www.baseball-reference.com, www.mlb.com)