Fun to Watch - Mike Zunino
who doesn't root for a gentleman soldier?



You watch these major leaguers - ANY of them - take a 90 MPH fastball in the short ribs.  Or in the shoulder blade.  Or off the elbow.  And they kinda growl, and take four seconds, and then go on with their lives.  The average major leaguer compared to the average guy on the street?  Joe Mainstreet, hit in the shoulder blade with a 90 MPH fastball, would probably think he'd been sniped and had had four seconds to LIVE.  The pain tolerance of ballplayers, man.

But catchers especially.  You see them take 90, even 95, foul tips right off their masks and just adjust the mask.  YOU put on a mask and let me hit you in it with a sledgehammer?  The kinetic energy has got to be about the same.

But Mike Zunino?  He takes HBP's as well as any Mariner since 1977, as well as any ballplayer active right now.  He won't even duck the pitch if he's well able to duck it; he'll just stand there, take the shot, and not flinch in the slightest.  He'll just trot calmly (not in a buzzed way, just calmly) down to take his base.

I've always loved Gentlemen Samurai.  It looks like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths; talking to them, it's like talking to your friendly aunt.  But when there is killing to be done, they won't even change expression.  George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee ... Russell Wilson.  Captain America, who at one time was a bit of an ideal.  Who wouldn't root for him?  Wait, don't answer that ... :- )

If Mike Zunino becomes a star, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.  Would love to see it happen for him.



At the 0:15 mark of this video you see Zuumball's second (!) homer Monday.  Note the high hand position.  Note the weight sink.  Note the "chop down" on the ball, old school.  Note Zunino hit the bottom half of the ball despite the chop.  Note the top hand release.  Note the shortness to the ball.

Here is Edgar's grand slam off Jeff Nelson in 2000.  LOL.  Oh, sorry, we meant this grand slam off Wetteland, the one to center in 1995, like Zuumball's last night.  Oh!  Here is Edgar's 3-run shot in game 4 of the 1995 series, a "sweep" of an inside pitch to left, like Zuumball's first homer Monday.  Especially on the slo-mo replay, notice the shortness of Edgar's path to the ball.

As senseis go, you could do worse than Edgar Martinez, it seems.


JUNE 2017

Here's a good read from Josh Horton at, boggling over Zunino's hot roll.  Zunino names Matt Holliday as an influence.  Holliday also uses a quiet body, a weight sink, and a short stroke to take advantage of natural power.  Holliday isn't as prone to attack the bottom half of the ball, however, doesn't get the effortless flyball ratio that Zunino gets.

Which is why it's so easy to get excited over Zunino's potential.  If he barrels the ball AT ALL the tendency is a deep fly ball without his thinking about it.

Zuumball was recalled on May 23, actually.  He had a terrible first 5 games; here's the game log.  In the 18 games since, he's slashing .406/.465/.859.  Having watched Zunino the last three weeks, it's a little sobering to realize that Barry Bonds had 4 straight years with a higher OPS than that ...

True, Zunino has a 4:25 EYE over those three weeks and a BABIP of .550.  Of course nobody is accusing Zunino of having become a .400 hitter with 70 homers a year.  But if his Edgar approach can give him a .250 average with 30 homers a year ...



There have always been a few of these guys around, 0.18-0.28 EYE ratios with immense natural power and lift.  Mark Trumbo types.  Zunino's incredible hot streak does not make you wonder if he's going to bat .300; it makes you wonder if he can become Trumbo, because the Mark Trumbos of the game have always had 30-RBI months.

Trumbo himself, in 2011-13, would post an EYE of .23 and would knock in 87, 95, 100 runs.  His career has had ups and downs.  But if he'd been a catcher, he'd have been a real star.

Other players with terrible EYE ratios and natural power:  Bo Jackson (LOL), Adam Jones, Jim Presley the old Mariners 3B, Mike Morse.  Alfonso Soriano would hit 35 homers with 30 walks.  Pete Incaviglia.  

But maybe Evan Gattis is one of the best comps for Zunino's UP scenario?   Here is his b-ref card.  Gattis also has the mammoth easy power and the air-conditioner whiff approach.  He hits .250 with 30 homers.

It's not MANY batters who can run a horrible EYE ratio and still hit well.  Zunino's effortless power may allow him that career path - if Edgar has anything to say about it.

Be Afraid,

Dr D




Now THERE's a name that doesn't come up very often. Pete Incaviglia.

Looking at his career I was surprised to see that my strongest recollection of him as part of the John Kruk-era early 90's Phillies was just a brief blip on the radar of his MLB career. Both Kruk and Incaviglia were butchers defensively, both were, shall we say, uh, sturdily built. But both could sock the horsehide.

Love these serendipitous references!


My father was an erstwhile Phillies fan of the 1960s/1970s, and so, when they got good again briefly in the early 90s, I watched a lot of their games. Inkaviglia and Darren Daulton were my favorites from that era. :) And Jim Eisenreich. The crazy nose put him over the top.


Seem to have stumbled onto a fruitful resource here.  LOL.  Guess I'm not the only one who enjoys the picture of a late 20th-century ballplayer now and again.


...back in 2003, I decided to have a little fun with the stats.  I set myself a summer goal:

Go to the best team in each league from 1900 to 1999, one year per day...and look at that team's roster and stats. Eliminate all hall of famers and famous names. Find the best players on that team who few people remember. Read about their baseball careers if possible and look through their stat cards and photos.

I felt I owed it to the game's history to remember good players who are so often forgotten.


Chosen at random, let's look at 1977...the year of Mariner expansion...

AL's best team was the Yankees - and the first player I don't instantly recognize from my years of reading HOF/AS/position leaderboard lists is Mickey Rivers. A defensively solid CF and slightly-plus hitter who ran the bases well and was very hard to strike out. HUGE clubhouse the NY press when you google his name...pretty fun.

NL's best team was the Phillies - the best player I could find who wasn't Luzinski or Schmidt was Gary Maddox. Who has come up here before and who has a batting line and defensive profile that looks very...very similar to one Guillermo Heredia, OBTW. Check it out. :)

Ya know...when you look at that Phillies reminds me of some other club I've seen recently...y' that wears teal?

Our Schmidt is Cano, our Luzinski is Cruz, and then...look at the rest of those guys...not a ton of power elsewhere, but a lot of offensive depth and no black holes. Terribad rotation except for Only difference? They had a monster bullpen.

Sooooo...if the Mariners would like to improve their playoff odds with a trade, I'd recommend not a SP but an ace reliever. Our rotation is sufficient unto itself once Hernandez/Iwakuma are back and then we get Smyly and suddenly are having to make hard choices.


With Segura coming back and reclaiming lead-off, it will be interesting to see how they now structure 7-8-9. I now assume 1-6 will be Segura-Haniger-Cano-Cruz-Seager-Valencia. But Dyson looks like he is distracting pitchers and is now getting on base at an acceptable clip; so, Zunino is having distracted pitchers giving him pitches to hit. But, right now he's followed by Motter, who is in a horrible slump. Replace Motter (<.300 OBP, ~.615 OPS, last 30 days .427 OPS) with Gamel (>.400 OBP, .870 OPS) and how do pitchers feel about that? They're talking Gamel at 7, so I assume Zunino at 8 and Dyson at 9. Having Dyson on-base might help Zunino more. And in the last 30 days he's OPSing .831. I wonder how it will turn out. But Zunino might be best served by having Gamel at 9, so they can't pitch around him, with Dyson at 7 on base giving the pitcher sensory overload.


That's a whale of a thought, the idea that Jarrod Dyson makes the paths straight for Mike Zunino particularly.  Some hitters raise in value more than others against distracted pitching...



Both Hendu was, and Zunino is, adept at hitting Sliders-thrown-so-as-not-to-bounce-it-and-put-Rickey(Zoombiya)-on-third. It's either that or fastballs from righthanders. Zunino seems to hit either quite a ways. The sucker sliders that go low to the opposite-side batter's box that Zunino is vulnerable to they can't throw with Dyson on!

Happy Junino!! Credit to Manny Acta via Brad Adam


He's had so many ups and downs, so much flashed potential. That's never been the problem... it's been sustaining it, the lack of which keeps leading us to 'he's got too good of a defense to release, but a d-first catcher hitting .200 isn't the worst thing ever.'

I don't want to go back to .200 Zunino mode yet again after getting all worked up. Obviously he's going to slump again someday, but when do we get to the point when it's 'normal' instead of 'catastrophic?' When does the inevitable adjustment of AL pitching get to a point that Mike can basically handle it, because the Achilles' Heels are - well, not eliminated, but mitigated sufficiently? (See Matt's point above about the high fastball. How long until that becomes a major exploit?!)

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