The Safeco Weather Myth

Originally Published:  June 30, 2012
Updated:  April 24, 2013

The Mariners have been terrible hitting at home, maybe even more terrible than usual this season.  So, people have been searching high and low, looking for excuses and solutions.  The fences are too far back, it intimidates the hitters, causing them to press, causing them to over-swing, causing hacky-looking warning-track outs.

Then, there’s the old standby:  these players are just BAD.  Get better players in here and you’ll see better results!  After all, the 2001 Mariners led all of baseball in runs scored!

My personal favorite is:  the weather is too darn cold!  Seattle’s climate in April, May, and June is too rainy, causing the air to become thick, causing balls to be knocked back from sure-fire home runs to easy-to-manage flyball outs.

The more sensible of us will dictate that it’s some combination of the three, plus tack on something about the roof being open or closed, but I’m here to tell you it’s NOT the weather.  The Mariners’ performance in the first half compared to the second half is not attached whatsoever to how hot it is outside.

In a second, I’ll get to the numbers, but first, an explanation.  Anyone who has lived in Seattle for more than a year can tell you that summer doesn’t start on June 20th or 21st like it says on the calendar.  Nope, in Seattle, summer starts on July 5th.  Junes are almost always piss-poor, and for whatever reason, Seattle is always blessed with the gloomiest Independence Days in the country.  But, come July 5th, through most of September, Seattle has some of the nicest summer weather in the country.  So, that’s how I split my numbers.  Everything July 4th and back counts as the First Half; everything July 5th and forward counts as the Second Half.

Also, for the record, no 1999, as there wasn’t a “First Half” to speak of.

First Half:  215 runs in 40 games; 5.38 runs per game
Second Half:  203 runs in 41 games; 4.95 runs per game

First Half:  218 runs in 40 games; 5.45 runs per game
Second Half:  222 runs in 41 games; 5.41 runs per game

First Half:  198 runs in 44 games; 4.5 runs per game
Second Half:  170 runs in 37 games; 4.59 runs per game

First Half:  169 runs in 41 games; 4.12 runs per game
Second Half:  225 runs in 40 games; 5.63 runs per game

First Half:  147 runs in 41 games; 5.38 runs per game
Second Half:  166 runs in 41 games; 4.95 runs per game

First Half:  172 runs in 42 games; 4.10 runs per game
Second Half:  182 runs in 39 games; 4.67 runs per game

First Half:  204 runs in 44 games; 4.64 runs per game
Second Half:  149 runs in 37 games; 4.03 runs per game

First Half:  210 runs in 42 games; 5 runs per game
Second Half:  176 runs in 40 games; 4.4 runs per game

First Half:  170 runs in 44 games; 3.86 runs per game
Second Half:  167 runs in 37 games; 4.51 runs per game

First Half:  139 runs in 36 games; 3.86 runs per game
Second Half:  174 runs in 45 games; 3.87 runs per game

First Half:  135 runs in 38 games; 3.55 runs per game
Second Half:  104 runs in 43 games; 2.42 runs per game

First Half:  156 runs in 48 games; 3.25 runs per game
Second Half:  109 runs in 36 games; 3.03 runs per game

First Half:  117 runs in 41 games; 2.85 runs per game
Second Half:  140 runs in 40 games; 3.5 runs per game

In 12 seasons 13 seasons at Safeco Field, the Mariners have improved their per-game run average in only five six of their second halves, when the weather is nice.  If you combine all the seasons, you’ll find:

First Halves2,133 runs 2,250 runs in 500 games 541 games; 4.27 runs per game 4.16 runs per game
Second Halves2,047 runs 2,187 runs in 477 games 517 games; 4.29 runs per game 4.23 runs per game

In other words, there is a VERY negligible uptick of .02 runs scored per game .07 runs scored per game in the hotter months of the season.  In other words, there’s no guarantee that this thing is going to get any better over the rest of this season.  *UPDATE* 2012’s absolutely brutal first half really screwed with my curve, but the reasoning still holds.

Now, obviously, I’m using sweeping generalizations with this post.  Not every single day after July 4th is nice; not every day before July 5th is shitty.  I suppose, if I wanted to spend a year on this, I could set some arbitrary degree threshold, cross reference the day’s weather with the Mariners’ total run output, and figure this shit out for REAL.  But, then, where would it stop?  I’d have to go inning by inning for the night games, as the temperature cooled, and it would be utter chaos.

I deal in sweeping generalizations here because that’s what the media does.  But, they’re not going to pull the wool over this blogger’s eyes!  We’re DOOMED, I TELLS YA, DOOMED!  Doomed to watch these Mariners’ bats flail around for the rest of this season and for many more to come.

I wish I had better news for you, but unfortunately that’s the way it is.  Or, rather, that’s the way it has been, since 2000.  Again, don’t read too much into anything, because every season is different.  You would figure, the worse the Mariners are in the first half, the more likely they would be to play some Triple-A guys in the second half.  And vice versa, the better they are, the more likely they are to try and bring in a bat for the second half (not that they’ve necessarily succeeded, in either regard, but still).  Then, there are injuries to take into account … lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta whathaveyou’s.

I’m just here to say that the weather issue is bullshit.  It’s not the weather, it’s the HITTERS.  Plain and simple.

Of course, the fact that these 2012 hitters are averaging 2.81 runs per game at home, while averaging 4.91 runs on the road is cause for concern.  ARE these hitters terrible?  Or, are they just young and letting Safeco get in their heads?  That’s an answer that no amount of numbers on Baseball Reference can figure out.

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