M's 3, Vannelope 6
M's up against 97 MPH on night-in, night-out basis


Careening around the peaks and pikes of Sugar Rush Speedway -- that's Archer, Bauer, Salazar, Kluber, Pineda, with Taffyta Muttonfudge and Swizzle Malarkey up next -- the M's have been trying hard to glitch their way into a couple of leads.   Early in the game Sunday, Dr. D was not holding his breath.

Funny thing, though:  around the fifth curve, the Mariners took the high side on Salazar and caught no fence on the pass.  Logan Morrison led off with a clean off-field single and I don't care how many Dustin Ackleys you carry in your pit crew, you've now got:

  • A run expectancy on the inning of +1,
  • Your SP throwing great and already into the 6th,
  • Your bullpen almost ready to go.

But this is exactly what's so frustrating about the M's, knowhutuhmean?  You've got a 240-lb. first baseman with an average batted-ball velocity of 120 MPH, and he can ping a single the other way, and ... we've been the better part of a month since his last home run.  Here we are again.

Brad Miller feathered a gorgeous double-clutch and blew by Salazar two car lengths.  Check it out:  here's what they've been doing to Taijuan.



That's a whale of a job on the walk.  True, the pitches look comfortably high if you focus your eyes on the little white triangle.  But try focusing on the letters and the MPH ... wow.  And  this is what's so frustrating about the M's, knowwhutuhmean?  Miller's swings out of zone are excellent - yet the moment you throw him 93 right down the middle, he'll swing through it.

OK, two men on, nobody out, and the run expectancy would now be 1.5 even if they weren't throwing their version of Taijuan Walker.

Dustin Ackley lays down a bunt, even getting a base hit out of it.  Beautiful!  And three batters later, it is 3-0 Mariners, two out, AJax on third base.

Dr. D is guessing that you saw the next sequence.  Danny Salazar came WAY up and in with a 94 fastball ... a pro boxer's punch might carry 300 ft-lbs. of kinetic energy, if you're talking heavyweight division.  A .357 magnum might carry 600 lbs., if you're talking 125-grain hot loads.  Salazar's chin-skimmer looked like "knock a hole through 3/4" plywood," if you're talking plywood.

Two pitches later, Salazar stuck with the ol' Taijuan stratergy and Cruz rifled a triple into the right-center alley.  Except!  A blurry streak came racing in from the right, intersected with the flight of the ball, and materialized into ... Ryan Raburn.  Or, more plausibly, Vanellope von Schweetz.  One of the most painful glitches of the year.



So the M's fibbled away their 4th run, which would have been the ballgame and a .500 record (again).  True, they fanned 11 times on the night.  But that means they still went 5-for-29 on their BABIP.  And it's not like they're popping up every time.  Just one more game in which the Big Hit Didn't Fall In.


SSI wondered a couple of days ago why the M's don't have more games in which they score more than five runs.  Watching the fifth, though, it hit us:  the Mariners never seem to have any big innings.  When's the last time you saw an enemy pitcher walk 3 guys while his defenders committed two errors?

Going into Sunday's game, the M's OPS+ was right at 100 and their ERA+ was precisely 100 as well.  Yet, with all their problems, you can't shake the feeling that on the given nights that teams play us, they play better than usual.  That's a big part of scoring 4, 5, 6 runs in an inning:  the other team fouling up.

Anyway, the M's maintain a comfortable lead in hard-hit balls, #1 of 30 teams, yet are #25 in BABIP and #24 in wRC+ when men are in scoring position.


The M's basic idea of offense, going into the season, was this:

  • Get Cano, Seager, and Cruz (as a group) to star
  • Get decent production out of Smith/Ruggiano and LoMo
  • Have one of the kids (Brad Miller, Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley) break out a little

The funny thing is, in very loose terms, they've done it.  They're left with the 100 OPS+, even after deduction for benchies like backup catcher and Willie Bloomquist.  Not sure what it will take to shift into fourth gear, but they've got some good things going on.


Dr D




Guti and Romero in, Weeks and Rugi out.  Bloomie out, too.  
Don't like Romero?  I kinda do, but fine.  Then give me a kid with big eyes who will wet himself for a bit then hit.  Kivlehan, Pizzano, Landry...I don't care.
We're wading through mud. Time to bring some energy.
It can't hurt.  And that's the critical phrase.......

Taro's picture

Cano's contract might be the worst in baseball at this point. We are in a lot more trouble than we realize long term. The team is built around Felix, Cano, Seager, and Cruz. We dont have the payroll space to add any significant FAs, so any additions need to be from within ot through trade. The only problem is our farm system is pretty terrible at this point. If the Ms cant capitalize this year or next I think its going to be another long rebuild.

Taro's picture

Not having a bunch of big innings is part of the nature of having a low OBP offense. Part of it is bad luck with RISP, but part of it is just how Z built the roster.


Here is a handy footpound conversion site
A baseball weighs 5.25 ounces, or .328 lbs, or 2296 grains.
At 97 mph, or 142 feet per second, the ball has 104 foot lbs of energy.  The ball slows down quickly, and at 97 mph it usually arrives at the plate somewhere around 85 mph.  At that speed, it carries the force of 78 foot lbs, or about the average muzzle velocity of a .22 long rifle bullet.  .22 longs vary in power from about 70 foot lbs to about 95 foot lbs for hot loads. Aerodynamic lead with rifle spin does not lose force nearly as quickly as baseballs.  A bullet loses about 8 percent of its energy at 20 yards, while a baseball loses about 13 percent.  So, The resultant energy of a .22 at home plate is 64 to 87.4 foot lbs.  .
At 20 yards, a  .22 can just barely punch through heavy plywood and can kill a lot of things with an extremely well placed shot in the lungs, heart or brain. If a baseball were any less bouncy, or denser, it would be a deadly weapon.  If there were no helmets, a baseball is a deadly weapon.  78 foot lbs over the size of a baseball is plenty enough force to bash a skull.  It is unbelievable that players stand in a place to be hit by those things as part of their jobs. 


And their talk about how tough and menacing they were, standing at a safe 20 yards' distance and threatening their fellow athletes with the 78 ft-lbs.  It's just a part of the culture I never got.
As a child, I got nailed in the ribs (at about maybe the same 20 yards) by an uncle who was practicing with his 5-iron.  Whatever the footpound conversion was, it wasn't pretty ...


A golf ball leaves the tee at about 180 mph for a pro.  If you make it 160 mph for an amateur, then the conversion is as follows:
235 feet per second of 709 grains equals 87 foot lbs of muzzle velocity.  Downgrade that 13 percent for the 20 yards and you get 75 foot lbs.  Quadrupally aggravated by the much smaller size of the golf ball.  All of this off of a little kid.  Nassssstty. 
I don't understand how a pitcher can act tough either.  It is like a hunter exulting over a grizzly bear that he executed from 200 yards downwind.  At some point it just isn't fair.  But, when you got a boomstick dishing back at 119 mph, pitching and the infield can probably seem a little bit dicey.
In looking up what a boxer hits with, I saw some bloggers stating that Georges St. Pierre delivered blows at 15,000 foot lbs.  This drew a good chuckle.  15,000 foot lbs is the muzzle velocity of a .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun.  I shot a fellow lawyer's .50 BMG once, and the experience is as follows:
He took the first shot.  He announced to the whole gun range that it was going off, and everyone gathered around.  A bottle of Coca Cola sat twenty feet to the left and a few feet to the rear of the shooter.  The owner of the gun advised everyone to stay behind him.  The gun went off, and it was as if the whole world shook.  The bottle of Coke jumped about a foot in the air, and all of the carbonation shot out of it and started fizzing on the ground.  I shot the gun as well.  The recoil wasn't bad, because the gun weighed about 35 lbs, and because of venting.   Later, I stood about twenty feet to the right and about five feet back from the shooter, and the force of the shockwave hit me, made me dizzy, and there was a feeling in my sinus like someone had punched me in the nose.  This feeling did not go away until the next day after I slept it off.  True story.
If Georges St. Pierre could throw a punch like that, he could fell an engine block with one blow.  He'd be the Hulk.  They wouldn't find all of the pieces if he punched a man.


What's the Jerry Seinfeld joke?  The Space Shuttle has 500,000 horsepower?  At what point do you stop comparing a machine like that to a HORSE?  :- )
Great anecdote counselor, vividly and colorfully delivered.  It's a funny thing:  I changed as a person, in a completely significant way, the first time somebody took me shooting.  Never lost the fondness for the .357 caliber, but I could be talked into .50 BMG if Rob Dibble thought it was funny to throw a bunted ball at the back of my head ...


You would give Cano to the Angels for Pujols, even steven?
... cheer up amigo.  Every superstar's contract looks like an albatross when he's not rippin' it up.  I got faith in Robby.
Verlander makes $28M per, five more years.  Cano looks like he's having a bad two months; Verlander looks like he'll be lucky to contribute again...

Taro's picture

It depends on how far Cano has fallen. Can he rebound to the 3 WAR level for a couple more years? Pujols is 2.5 years years older, but has remained mostly in the 3 WAR range the last few years. Has 6 years and $165M remaining on his deal vs 8 years and $198M for Cano.
Verlander was still decently productive last year (2.8 WAR) and was probably pitching injured. Has 4 years left and $96M gauranteed left after 2015. Cano will have 8 years and $198M gauranteed after 2015.
Overall, I'd deal Cano for Verlander in a heartbeat and probably take Cano over Pujols. Either way, its turned into one of the worst contacts in the game. Its why its so difficult to projects players past age 30.


If that's where your head's at on him, hoping he can rebound to 3 WAR (?) for a few years (?), then I see why you call it the worst contract in the game.
*Last* year he was worth 6.4 WAR per b-ref.com.  If he hits .300 the next six weeks, does that turn his evaluation back around?  
I'll bet you a baseball cap that his upside is not '3 WAR for a couple more years.'  ;- )


I shot a Desert Eagle .50 once. Not nearly as powerful a round of course, but is is a handgun. Can't hold it one handed... Grip is just too big (I guess to make room for the rounds). Pours out like a foot of flame from the muzzle. Totally impractical. What a blast!

Taro's picture

Very concerned about Cano.
The power has drastically fallen off since the 2nd half of 2013. Cano was still productive last year, but was very lucky in BABIP vs the shift.
He been unluckly in BABIP this year to some extent, but has been legitimately terrible overall. The loss of power, the loss of production vs offspeed pitches, the decline in production vs LHs (0.09 eye), increase in GB rate. All are signs of an aging hitter.
Given how Cano has looked and the typical age curves for middle infielders, I am getting very worried about him.


Robbie's OPS+ was 150 in his age 33 season, then never again above 90 as he stumbled to the finish of a HOF career.
If Cano's hitting that wall this year, we are in incredible amounts of trouble. I figured we still had 3 or 4 years before we had to cry about his contract.
The list of guys who posted an OPS over 130 at age 36 or beyond: Jeff Kent (likely roids), Joe Morgan (inner circle HOFer), Charlie Gehringer (HOFer), Eddie Colling and Nap Lajoie (HOF and HOF respectively).  That's one dude in the last 75 years who did it legitimately. So I figured we'd be paying 25 million a year at the end and not getting anything like 25 million in production, but that needed to start around 2020, not 2015.
If it starts now, then Cano needs to call Kent (or ask Cruz) for the number of his doctor.
I still expect Cano to have several more good years in him, but it would be nice if he remembered that and started hitting like it.  As soon as tonight would be good.


Gordon Gross is right. He is at best Robbie Alomar, (except Alomar was a plus defender -- by plus I mean the best ever). A guy with immense natural talent, who couldn't push through the aging curve. Its over. The other age comp is http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=56&position=1B Cano may be able to get his BA up .275 for the remaining years, maybe even hit 300 for an odd year. But that's it, power is gone, whatever defensive value he had is gone. Terrible contract.

Taro's picture

I'm with you there. Have an offseason working out with Cruz.
Its unusual for players of Cano's level to suddenly fall off a cliff. It would be more typical if he had 2-3 seasons left of 3 WAR-ish production in him before the collapse. Even in that scenario though, the contract has turned into a disaster.
Its clear that some level of decline has kicked in. To what extent remains to be seen.

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