...and you could be right that they change the grass...
But...the question "why would Safeco be bad for groundball hitters when it's not bad for topspin line drive hitters?" is roughly the same, in my head, as asking why, if zebras do well in African steppe, wouldn't striped bass do well in African steppe?
People who hit the ball in the air with topspin have the ball slice through the air better than people who hit the ball way up in the air with backspin. But people who hit the ball on the ground don't have the ball slice through the air...they have the ball slice through the **GRASS**...a tad different, kimosabe.
One cubicle to the right, we talk about "iguana" ballplayers. That was partly to set up this piece, claiming that Gordon is one of them. Prior to 2017, Gordon signed a 5/$50M contract, which is what you would expect to pay for what. 1.5 WAR per year?
Gordon has been healthy three of the last four years: 2014, 2015, and 2017, last year. Fangraphs sets his bases gained and bases lost as worth --- > $25.1M, and then $38.7M, and then $26.6M. Counting his injury year in 2016 (79 games played), he's been worth $98.3M in four years. And they gave him ten million a year for that.
Marc W asked (reasonably) at USSM, If Dipoto isn't going to buy stars in FA, where's he going to get them? You and i might spend a few minutes asking whether Dipoto just looked across the country and spotted one that other people don't recognize.
A secondary point, the "PU" parallel universe point. Supposing there were an All-Star player on the trade market right now, signed for three more years at less than half his value. Let's say Chris Archer. You think the M's could trade for him? You are always told we don't have the prospects, are you not?
The thought was floated that Safeco is tough on groundball hitters. This thought is worth debating, but the next stat I see quantifying it will be the first one. Safeco FOR SURE is tough on backspin hitters (which is why it is so remarkable and beneficial that Cruz and Zunino transcend the park). Topspin hitters defeat the park; why wouldn't groundball hitters do the same?
Perhaps the Mariners have indeed preferred to cut the infield grass longer; this would make sense with Cano and Segura playing the middle infield. But Jerry Dipoto is well aware that Dee Gordon is a 2.9:1 groundball freak, and he's not going to trade for a feature leadoff hitter only to tell them to cut the grass high on him.
As you sleep on it for a couple of days, you realize that Dee Gordon is responding to his position switch with an attack mindset. The Mainframe is gingerly switching its stock buy from +0 to +5 on Gordon's runs saved in center field. Which leaves him as a 3.3 to 4.8 WAR player.
Also one of the first 10 questions James answered, back in 2007, was "can you beat Pythag." Surprisingly, he answered, Yes you can. With a great bullpen and ... wait for it ... by playing 1-run strategies. Dee Gordon drags the bat through the zone, rolls it on the grass, and then puts his legs to work like Rickey Henderson. This works just as well against Justin Verlander as it does against Joe Blanton. ... you see the idea here, right? Lance McCullers does not strike out Dee Gordon, does he? He does the same thing every other pitcher does: he hopes the sharp ground ball will hit the shortstop in the mitt. It's a good way to start a game against a great pitcher, sending Dee Gordon up there.
In Miami, the Marlins were about even against Pythag, though you have a lot of moving parts to consider there. Dr. D does remember 2001, with the Mariners finishing +7 games above Pythag when they put together (1) a close-it-out bullpen, (2) a good team generally with a high DER, and (3) "rallies that started with Ichiballs up the middle" as Boone put it.
I dunno if there's such a thing as an MLB weapon specialized against killer pitching. But if there is, Dee Gordon is it.
...and you could be right that they change the grass...
The Grass on the entire field was just installed in October. Whether it's going to play very similar or not? We'll see. It sounds like they're just turning the clock back.
Ground ball factors are more than just a reflecting speed decrease because it is a different seed mixture and is cut longer. Where a ball is hit (in relation to fielders), how hard and at what angle to the ground would also highly affect whether the changes the grass made to velocity and trajectory would be beneficial or detrimental to it's chances of becoming a base hit.
Park effects being split out to not only show grounders but also singles is a nice idea I saw recently.
How about babip by park split by off the bat velocities? Don't see that anywhere and it seems to be more pertinent to the discussion than anything I am finding. For now, I understand the idea of Dee's type of singles (slower rollers) possibly being negatively affected by the grass in Seattle's soon-to-be-renamed park. I can't find evidence to convince me to strongly support either side of that debate. I'll just hope that he's not adversely affected instead.
His game is so super simple and synergistic (slash groundballs + elite speed + elite first step explosion) that it's not like he's baaaaaarely scratching out a living. The man won a batting title a couple years ago, and hit .308 last year. 'Fring-y,' his offensive skillset is not. Limited? You betcha. One-dimensional? Most definitely. But he's not in danger of turning into a pumpkin because the grass is 10% denser, or whatever the deal is with Safeco's lawn.
I agree with Doc about slash-and-burn types like Ichiro, Gordon, Juan Pierre, etc.. being kryptonite to ace pitching. 2001, the Yankees figured out a way to disrupt Ichiro in the ALCS by throwing at his legs. But it was a one-time trick; he adapted afterward, just like Dee has had to do for his entire career.
It's not like he *was* a modest power guy at some point in his professional career. He's always been a burner. He's played in all kids of parks, with tall or short grass, and with thick or thin grass. He'll be juuuuust fine, thank you very much ;-)
Truly, SSI is a gift, one I look forward to opening several times each day.
Thank you all for that. I like to imagine that doc is Santa and that you are all his elves, hammering away all year to bring me this special present.
MLBTR reports that Ichiro is still looking for a team. Over the past two seasons, in 120+ PA’s, he’s hitting .340-.420 vs. LHP.
if we aren’t getting a 4th OF with pop, and if we are getting a 4th OF, I can sure think of less pretty presents under the Safeco tree.
As an OF tutor for Gamel, Haniger and Gordon, could there be anybody better?
If we don't think Heredia will be ready in time for the season, I'd enjoy a reunion tour
You'd lose some development/ROI opportunity. But for me it's worth it, baseball being "the national pastime" and not "the search for a cure to MS".
My brother keeps reminding me of something related that I said in a coffee shop 20 odd years ago. This guy was complaining about Microsoft for so long that everyone was getting annoyed. Finally I told him that there's a number he can call. 1800 FIGHT MS. He was on the payphone minutes later saying "That's not for Microsoft, it's for Multiple Sclerosis." I replied, "Yeah, some people have real problems."
It's good to remember when situations seem dire that they really are more complications than calamities.
Ichiro makes some sense. Oh, did he still want to pitch too? Is it still too soon for Ohtani jokes?