Why Do The Mariners Suck So Bad Hitting At Home?

This isn’t going to be the most informative post in the world, but then again I’m not really trying to spend four hours on every post I write.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Seattle Mariners and their struggles at home.  That’s because the Mariners have sucked an entire Chinese phonebook’s worth of dicks at home.   And because that’s all the local media can talk about (with good reason, because seriously, where’s the fucking progress, Wedge?).  AND because after playing 37 of their first 59 games in other states or other countries, the Mariners have played 16 of their last 22 at Safeco.  With three more games (starting tonight) before a three-game stand at Oakland and then the All Star Break.

In short, lately, it’s all anyone can think about.  And I got to wondering:  how much of it is Safeco, how much of it is the Mariner bats sucking, how much of it is the opponents being particularly dominant, and how much of it is blind, piss-ass bad luck?

I can’t speak to luck, because I’m not a wizard (but I’ll make my feeble attempt at the end of this post anyway).  Safeco is Safeco, and frankly I think we’re all a little tired of hearing about the fences and the air thickness and the open roof.  Ditto the sucktitude of the Mariner bats; it’s been the same broken record for the last five seasons.  So, I went through today and looked at our opponents.

Thus far, we’ve played the 2nd-best team in ERA (Dodgers), the 3rd-best (Giants), the 6th-best (A’s, twice), the 7th-best (Angels), the 8th-best (Rangers), and the 12th & 13th best (Padres & White Sox) in eight of our twelve home series.  Granted, we’ve also faced the 20th-best (Red Sox), the 28th-best (Indians) and 29th-best (Twins), but still.

I also went and listed all of the starting pitchers we’ve faced at Safeco Field this season.  Now, obviously, not all of these starters have defeated us, or even looked all that great, but I’m going to list them anyway because I went to all the trouble.  Here they are, with their season ERA:

  • Bartolo Colon – 4.22
  • Tommy Milone – 3.73
  • Graham Godfrey – 6.43
  • Justin Masterson – 3.92
  • Derek Lowe – 4.42
  • Josh Tomlin – 5.85
  • Chris Sale – 2.27
  • Philip Humber – 6.01
  • John Danks – 5.70
  • Carl Pavano – 6.00
  • Jason Marquis – 5.83
  • Nick Blackburn – 7.74
  • Doug Fister – 3.91
  • Justin Verlander – 2.69
  • Drew Smyly – 4.54
  • Yu Darvish – 3.59
  • Matt Harrison – 3.16
  • Scott Feldman – 6.13
  • Dan Haren – 4.53
  • Ervin Santana – 5.12
  • Jerome Williams – 4.46
  • C.J. Wilson – 2.33
  • Nathan Eovaldi – 4.61
  • Clayton Kershaw – 2.65
  • Chad Billingsley – 4.18
  • Clayton Richard – 3.77
  • Jason Marquis – 5.83
  • Edinson Volquez – 3.68
  • Ryan Vogelsong – 2.26
  • Tim Lincecum – 5.60
  • Madison Bumgarner – 2.85
  • Tommy Milone – 3.73
  • Travis Blackley – 2.79
  • Jarrod Parker – 2.57
  • Franklin Morales – 2.59
  • Aaron Cook – 4.32
  • Josh Beckett – 4.06
  • Felix Doubront – 4.42

Now, obviously, ERA doesn’t tell the whole story about whether a pitcher is good or not, but if you’re savvy enough to know that, then you’re savvy enough to just look at most of these names and figure out that – aside from a few aces (Kershaw, Verlander, Wilson to a lesser extent) – we’re not talking about world beaters.  Philip Fucking Humber threw a fucking perfect game at Safeco and has a 6.01 ERA for Christ’s sake!  Aaron Cook is a career piece-of-shit and he shut the Mariners out on 81 pitches!  These are NOT great pitchers, not by a long shot!  And, for the most part, they’re doing most of the ass-kicking in Safeco this season.

It’s time to face it:  it’s not the stadium, it’s not the opponents; it’s some combination of our hitters underperforming and some outrageous bad luck causing these underperformances.

For that, look no further than BABIP (batting average of balls in play).  Here are some numbers:

  • League Average:  .291
  • Ichiro:  .282
  • Kyle Seager:  .278
  • Miguel Olivo:  .230
  • Brendan Ryan:  .229
  • Justin Smoak:  .222

These are guys who play every day, damn near every day, or at the very least REGULARLY, and they’re getting absolutely crushed by luck.  Factor in the few regulars who are above league average – Saunders is the best at .319 – and you’re not exactly getting very much good luck on the other end of the spectrum.  .319 isn’t THAT much more than league average, and that’s arguably our most productive hitter.

By the way, those BABIP numbers are for the entire season.  I imagine they’re much lower across the board for when those guys are playing in Safeco (I just don’t feel like looking into it anymore).

So, that’s that.  The Mariners suck, but PROBABLY not as bad as they’ve been recently?  I’m going to go with that.  Here’s to a second half of runaway improvement!

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