Along with the usual shtick, POTD's and "Last Night In Seattle Mariners World," we like to mix in some pure baseball. Saber stuff, F-500, Sports Is Life and what-have-you. Back in April 2012 James had an interesting question and reply. BJOL, $3 per month:
The Cardinals did not have any of those players with the mega hitting numbers, but every regular hit .300 and four of the five bench players hit .366, .374, .396 and .321. They didn't have a pitcher who won more than 15 games, while there were a couple of 20-game winners in the league, but they had five good starting pitchers (15-9, 13-8, 13-6, 12-10, 12-8) and four pretty decent guys in the bullpen who also made spot starts in double headers. The 1931 team almost the same; it is a very deep collection of pretty good players, but no legitimate superstars.
If you don't have anything else to read, and y'probly don't, it's amusing to back and flip the b-ref almanac. Here is the 1930 Cardinals page to start: They had a 98 offense and 116 pitching staff but no hitter below the mid-80's. I mean none of their top 13 hitters failed to chip in. They did have HOF'ers Frankie Frisch and Chick Hafey on that team. Pitching-wise they had four #3 starters plus spitballer Burleigh Grimes who slimed his way to a 169 ERA+ that year. Would have been an entertaining team to watch, for sure.
James gave a good answer but Dr. Detecto wouldn't be at all afraid to nominate the 2001 Mariners as the most balanced good ballclub in history.
(1) They led the league in Runs Scored, playing in a pitchers' park. Not to mention hits (Ichiro 242, Boone 206, Olerud 173, Cameron and Edgar 144) ... they led the league in Stolen Bases, and were #2 in triples, so they were very fast. They were #1 in OBP. They were in the top 3-4 in absolutely everything -- RBI, SF's, you name it. They simply had the league's best offense, 5 excellent bats and 4 average bats.
(2) They led the league in defense -- that is, DER (percentage of batted balls turned into outs) by a huge margin.
(3) They led the league in ERA and ERA+, with 4 starters going 115-204 (Garcia, Moyer, Sele, Piniero) and then Paul Abbott went 17-4, 4.25 as the weak link.
(4) Of course the bullpen was a Nasty Boys brigade, with Sasaki-Rhodes-Nelson all way high on the K/IP leaderboard and then even Norm Charlton and Jose Paniagua as spare parts.
(5) For all that, their highest-paid player was Aaron Sele on a 2x$7M deal, almost an afterthought in ST the year before. They had 8 All-Stars not including Dan Wilson, Al Martin, Moyer and Sele, which gave them 12-13 players making $3+ to $7M. Really spreading the dollars around.
(6) For all that, history's most balanced team got blown out of the postseason with ease. It would be interesting to see how many of James' 17 nominees won the World Series (in shorter postseason tourneys). It looks kind of like he riffled back through his memory thinking of champions? He's got the Bash Brothers, the 1990 Reds and so forth.
2018 OAKLAND A'S
Said all that to say this. A few weeks ago I looked at their b-ref card and couldn't believe how balanced they were. Here you had a 97-win team using an opener in the Wild Card game against a 100-win team.
The A's offense is stuffed to the gills with 115 OPS+ players - Olson and Lowrie and Chapman (136) and Pinder and Canha and Piscotty and Khris Davis (136) and a bench pitching in nicely also. The 4 benchies with the most AB's nabbed an aggregate 100 OPS+ between them.
The A's pitching staff had 5 starters with ERA+s from 103 to 116. Their bullpen was better than their rotation.
Anyway, that has stuck with me since, a team whose highest-paid player makes $10.5M (Davis) and #2 player Lucroy makes $6.5M -- and essentially they had 20 above-average players. LOL.
2019 SEATTLE MARINERS
You could do this with any team. But I think it's interesting here because for once, we've got no-names and it's easy to imagine a lot of them playing well. I'm cherrypicking the best whole, intact statline from either 2017 or 2018 here and ignoring the bullpen for the moment:
|Mallex Smith||.300/.370/.400 (40 SB)||115|
|Jay Bruce||.255/.325/.510 (36 HR, 101 RBI)||115||2017|
|Edwin Encarnacion||.260/.380/.505 (32 HR, 107 RBI)||128||2017, but HR & RBI are 2018|
|Domingo Santana||.280/.370/.505 (30 HR, 85 RBI)||126||2017|
|Ryon Healy||.305/.335/.525||132||2016 lol|
|Tim Beckham||.255/.310/.450||115||combining 2017-18|
The big question at a glance is, to what extent will Bruce and Santana bounce back in the middle of the order. The other guys were not over their heads and Edwin Encarnacion's latest 30-100 season was last season.
You guys are calling Santana for a full bounceback so I guess the biggest Q is Dan Vogelbach's performance once Bruce slows down.
Again, you could make a lot of teams look good this way but I think the vast majority of Denizens will recognize that in this particular case, Dipoto has scrounged the lineup rather well.
|Leake||10-13, 3.92||109||2017; probably won't do that well|
|LeBlanc||9-5, 3.72||109||May need Justin Dunn up here|
If anybody gets interested in checking those James nominees for championships I'd be interested to see.
James has been writing about the possibility that the Sox are the champions ... of all time. LOL. So I guess we'd be doing great with a 2/4 split there, and a 4-2 record coming out.
Against Oakland's 97-win staff, we fans were left much more encouraged than discouraged, about the possibility of a balanced attack in 2019. After all, they did get 14 runs in 2 games against a good staff and a killer bullpen. The M's had 5 players rake it and 3 players fake it:
- Beckham 5-for-7 and even a homer with a double. 2 walks vs 0 K, too
- Dee Gordon 3-for-10 with an easy SB
- Ryon Healy 3-for-9 with TWO doubles AND a HR (in 2 games)
- Maniger 2-for-8 with a HR and a double
- Domingo 2-for-10 but with a grand slam, a double and 5 RBI
Three guys, nada in the first two games:
- Jay Bruce 1-for-9
- Edwin Encarnacion 0-for-6 but was on base 5 times, 4 walks and a HBP so .455 OBP
- Narvaez 0-9