Thursday Afternoon Tazoberry, Dec. 21 2017
here's to ya, mates



They say you will always see something new at a baseball game, usually saying this right after the two occasions per year in which that actually occurs.  :- )  As it applies to the SSI blog it occurs more frequently than that.  This morning, Dr. D woke up to see something he never thought he would ...

... wait for it ...

... the Think Tank doing its best to look feebleminded.  LOL.  Just when Dr. D thought he couldn't get any more sappy about the praise he fired into the crowd like T-shirt cannon guns, he turns around and finds that the Denizens can indeed get weird on him.

;- )


The idea is "old player skills" vs "young player skills," gentlemen.  It's the 23-year-olds who play like 33-year-olds who age poorly; think Alvin Davis.  The guys like Kenny Lofton, they age like ... Kenny Lofton.

Secondly, does anybody here realize that Dee Gordon is 30 years old?  If he were 35 maybe this discussion woulda happened.  Dee Gordon is a young player!  Pleasantly, this whole question about Gordon's arc is a non-starter.


The thing about his doing a Yuge Chone Figgins Pout, that was worth a paragraph, but:  Chone Figgins was Chone Figgins.  He was a head case from age 21, and (we're sure) from age 1.  So don't sweat that either.

The M's got a feature CF, a 90%-Ichiro.  Enjoy.



Has been running around the place triple-doubling like Magic Johnson in that rookie Finals game he played center.  Don't have time to list a Top 10 Moments, but, consider yerself awarded at center court.  :- )  Wow.  What a week.



USSM has an interesting article up, "If no free agents, whence the stars?"  Which is a nicely-stated response to Dipoto's aggravating FA philosophy.

After Zunino was called back up last year he hit .270/.349/.571, in LA International Airport.  That's NOT a "hot streak."  That is 4.5 UNBROKEN, UNINTERRUPTED months of batting exactly like Giancarlo Stanton.  By "uninterrupted" we mean "without a break in continuity.  That .571 SLG is who he was.

AL pitchers tried to adjust.  They could not.  He hit .281/.376/.568 in the second half.  We are looking at the prospect of a Piazza-ish hitter behind the plate.


With "most-comparable players" you try to find irreducible complexity, like the 5 parts of a mousetrap.  Holding bar, spring, catch, platform, hammer.  You don't want any trivial parts in there, like comp'ing James Paxton based on his cutter or something, and you don't want anything fundamental left out, like Paxton's K rate.

What are Zunino's fundamental components?  :: hmmmmmm ::  It's not super easy to set these.  But noodling now, thinking out loud as opposed to staking claims:

  • "Cheat code" raw power, along the lines of Ichiro's original "BABIP breaking" speed
  • Average contact ability.  .25ish EYE, not burdensome, but definitely weed out the guys with gifted contact ability
  • Very compact, short swing paths (the plus asset here is quite critical)
  • Zunino has settled into oriented "stalking" here - "stalking" like an elk stalker, might find the elk might not, but we're not in visible confusion and humiliation

Over the last 20 years the "comps" here are few.  Mark Trumbo is the LO comp.  Edwin Encarnacion is the MID comp.  Giancarlo Stanton (!) is the HI comp.  Stanton also bases his game on the idea that if he gets his flight angle, he starts his HR trot.  Zunino has a truly special tool, that being his raw power.  I'm not sure how far short he falls of even Stanton there.

Where is Zunino going from here?  Would be interested in your estimation, but --- > crazy estimations are in bounds here.



It ain't the horsepower you get at the camshaft.  It's the torque you get at the back wheels.  In baseball OPS+ we're talking about HP loss in terms of 62 OPS+'s from your back up catcher.

Take the M's 9 batters and you see some nice slash lines there.  (Anybody want to post up Mitch Haniger?)  The only reason they would not be 110 next year is the leak that occurs spots 10-16.

Which is why it's fascinating to see Dipoto going after OBP guys like Ford in those spots.  Seems like a pretty sweet synergy, the 1B approach intersected with the "horsepower leak" issue.



A quick reminder that the M's "deep state" intel on Gamel, whatever that is, sells them hard on him.  He had his adjustment periods in 2017, periods we all weren't sure, but:  the Mariners just didn't waver.  They say he can play, and I'm inclined to believe them.  He's also got lots of ways to go forward from here, such as increased pull/air shots over time and such as improvement in defense.  I don't think either of those are wild hopes; for me they are actual expectations.

Here's a fun little Sporting News read on him this week.  Gamel may always job-share but there are some guys you just flat out love their makeup.


Dr D




i knew Zunino was hot for a long time, but not that he was Stanton hot!

Way back when, I said that Zunino only had to be a .230 hitter to be dang good, considering his catching abilities and moon ball power.  Anything more than .230 would be gravy. But .270 is country gravy AND the hash brown AND the hot biscuits.  

Speedy LF types with middling to less power always seem to develop middling to more power as they get some pitch stalking experience.  Gamel showed adaptability last year when he quit taking first pitch strikes and hurt some of them.  It says here he picks Gar’s brain and picks his spots and launches 15-17 taters this season.  The Yankees have a couple of those guys. 


Moving Thome behind the dish.  Why do the Mariners get to do it?  Zdurienciks enduring gift.  And Paxton.  And Seager.   Well, anyway.


Personally always think of myself as Carmen Argenziano's character from House, Season 4 .  You probably remember him as the one with the encyclopedic medical knowledge that rivals House's own, which is why he's kicked from the team--a copy of the original, even a good one, is ultimately redundant in a team which can only really leverage a single instance of each unique skillset.

Always felt that way surprisingly (and amusingly) often 'round here.  One of the things that I think makes this place so inviting and valuable is that we don't form e-mobs with pitchforks and torches, huddling around a common point of groupthink with comment after comment in support of a given idea or response.  We usually let one person elucidate the point, then we sit back and wait for counterpoints to that thought.  Often times, three or even four people will take turns responding in a subthread, speaking as though they're basically the same person.

That's one of the things I love about this place, so (a little bit ironically) if I put my oar in every time I felt the impulse to do so, I'd be shredding a little bit of SSI's appeal (to me).

Then again, I might just be rationalizing my laziness ;-)

Chicago Mariner's picture


One of the things I’ve always appreciated about your writing is that you look at the possibilities, not just the probabilities.  It’s a lot more fun to dream of what some of our players (Paxton, Haniger, et al) could be than to look at 3 year discounted flows based on regression.  Not that I mind the counterpoint of more pessimistic voices on this blog.  Salt, yeast and heat make for great baking.

You mentioned Zunino’s stats after he got called up.  I had almost forgotten those in the Ohtani saga, but they really are remarkable.  I looked at Fangraphs, and for the whole year, Zunino is in 4th place by WAR (and correct me if I’m wrong, that does not really take into account pitch framing and other catching skills?). If you just look at the second half, he’s first among catchers with 2.5 WAR - in 185 plate appearances!



Not a fan of the name-calling. I know you're poking for fun, but I think it's vastly oversimplifying to claim that all fast/springy players age well and all slow players age poorly.

Whither Figgins?

I can name a dozen without much effort who were speedy right up to the moment they weren't...and their careers died in that moment.

I would also point out that Gordon's big tool is groundball singles, and Safeco completely annihilates groundball singles unless you're Ichiro! and can force the infielders to play four steps shallow continuously. Ichiro!, Dee Gordon is not. Of all the reasons Safeco is a pitcher's park, the most important is actually not the airballs on the track. It's the grounders that look hot coming off the bat and then slam to a danged halt as soon as they hit the grass on the second hop.


If you're down on Gordon who would you have wanted?   Is Dee not an upgrade over Dyson in your eyes? 


If he transitions gracefully to center field, Gordon will be a tick better than Dyson in terms of WAR, but I'd have preferred we trusted Heredia more in CF and acquired a big bopper for LF.


I do think Dee will ultimately be better defensively than Heredia.  Just heard him swear on MLBN, no bleep.  "I'm just ready to help these guys win and sh**".  I'm excited to see him out there.  Overall I don't think Heredias ceiling has been established though.  He has to play to find out.  I think he's the hardest on the team to predict numbers for.  I think a decent chance of your .285/.350/.430 improvement but he could clear those.  If I had to pick over/under on each slash it's OBP that would be a quick over selection.  If he puts things together in the box his OBP (MiL .395, CNS .376) will rise quickly. 


And affectionate at that.  "Name-calling"?  Guess you were right about the inability to tell when people were kidding.

Take a breath amigo, and if I kid you a little, feel free to kid me back.

tjm's picture

Where does the data on that come from? I had no idea that was so. Why is that Matt? Not why didn't I know, but why does Safeco kill ground balls? Is it the grass? Which could be fixed. 


Is working as intended.  No need to fix it.

I'll bite on guessing slashlines...Haniger I'll stick at .300/.400/.500.  Gamel holding around the .275 BA with gains in OBP and SLG, .275/.345/.475.  Zunino .285/.365/.590.  I get Zuninos by simply rounding up May 29-Sep 29 .281/.361/.589

You realize by OPS+ last year it was Cruz, Haniger and Zunino out front?  Expect gains from #s 2,3,4,5,6 (Cano,Segura, Seager), Dee over Dyson and the unranked OF Heredia and Gamel.  Mariners sacking cities this year, or at least Pitchers ERAs.


Gordon: .285/.320/.360 (55 SB)
Segura: .295/.350/.470 (30 SB if healthy)
Cano: .280/.340/.485
Cruz: .275/.355/.530 (30 HRs...beginning to fade)
Seager: .270/.350/.460 (up year with better protection)
Haniger: .295/.380/.525 (All-star team, possibly team MVP)
Healy: .260/.300/.460
Zunino: .260/.335/.530 (All-star)
Gamel/Heredia: .270/.325/.450 and .285/.350/.430 respectively with improved defense

rest of the bench: AWFUL.


is that how you'd hit everyone 1-9 or is that just a run down of projections?


If that is your 1-9 would you be willing to explain why you did the lineup the way you did?



Haniger would establish himself as on the way to some big, big money.  Wouldn't put that kind of a line past him, though.

Considering the division, the M's need several things to break right but wow if they did, there's quite an upside here.  Agreed Wish.


I believe the people behind the DRS stat track grounder/flyball park effects...I didn't see last year's numbers but I saw them quoted in 2015 in an article by Larry Stone and I don't tend to think it has changed. Because the team WANTS a slow infield to help the pitchers. They think it's synergistic to take their pitcher-friendly park and make it REALLY pitcher friendly where they can.


It's pretty hard to not be almost giddy over what Zunino might be in 2018 and beyond? 

I know there are some HUGE question marks in the rotation but the lineup looks like it could be a BLAST to watch in 2018. 



In a rotisserie league, Zunino will be available way later than he should be, and he could wind up on a lot of teams that win their leagues.  It's almost easier for me to imagine a flush back to AAA than to imagine a .460 SLG season in the bigs.

He had a 46:22 fly ball to ground ball ratio last year, and once he gets it into the air, it's gone (24% HR/fly).  Some of his power stats are ridonkulous :- )


I did predict a .955 OPS for him this year .   Very high on his abilities in the box.  

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