The 1973 A's: 253 runs at home, 445 road - and the World Series


The Mariners are scoring 4.96 runs per game on the road this year and 2.86 at home. I wonder whether this would be the largest home/road split ratio ever? ... theory is that Safeco, where the wind off the sea blows LF-to-RF, creates an updraft effect that makes batted balls hang in the air (as Mike Cameron first noted). This results in super-low BABIP's and low HR per fly ball percentages. The Mariners' young hitters are routinely quoted as very frustrated; Seager's splits especially are horrific. Worry is that the park is getting into the young players' heads too much and threatening to ruin this generation's rebuild ... any thoughts as to a systemic fix? Change the park, the players (again), or let some time pass? ...
Asked by: jemanji
Answered: 7/19/2012
That could be a record; I'm not sure.   The 1934 Boston Braves scored 280 runs at home, 403 on the road.
Oh, I think the '73 A's have them beat.   The '73 A's scored 253 runs at home, 445 on the road--and won the World Series.    So tell them to quit gripin' and see if Blue Moon Odom is available.  - From Hey Bill,

The 1973 A's had a 26-year-old Joe Rudi, a 25-year-old Bill North, a 26-year-old Gene Tenace, a 26-year-old Ray Fosse, and a 27-year-old Reggie Jackson in the lineup.  They weren't as young as the M's, but they were young.  The thing is, they had in effect 3 Felixes in their rotation.  3 Felixes out of 4 slots.  Pretty much.  Ken Holtzman made 40 starts that year.  Their Big Three tossed 300, 260, and 260 innings.  All had very long, very glorious careers.

Bill's kidding around some, which is his way of letting you know that he's not particularly confident about his answer.  ... but his basic idea here is still so sharp as to induce vertigo.  Suppose you just accepted --- > that you'll be last in home scoring and first in road scoring?  Could you win that way?


It would require a couple of things:  first of all, tell all your young hitters that we're going to be looking at your road stats.  Laugh off the Safeco runs whirlpool.  This is the equivalent of Bobby Knight refusing to yell at his players to shoot the ball better:  with the pressure off at Safeco, they might actually hit better.  Like score 3.1 runs per game, maybe - dare to dream.

Reggie wrote a book about the Swingin' A's.  "Campy would draw a walk, and steal second, and Joe Rudi would move him over, and Sal would hit a sac fly.  We'd have Catfish going, and Rollie in the pen.  We wouldn't have a hit yet, and the other team would be on the ropes."  Yes, the 1973 A's laughed about their home ballpark.

You'd have to tell them daily.  Don't sweat it, man.  Has anybody checked Ichiro's home and road splits?  Nobody likes "making excuses," but the Oakland 1973 approach would require us to accept the reasons for depressed stats.  Maybe we don't want to.


And second of all:  get a great team together.

Like trade for Doug Fister ... Kidding!  No, really.  Did you see the SportsCenter pitchtrax they put on his curves and changes last night.  He made R.A. Dickey look like a dead man.  

Or maybe like if Paxton, Hultzen, and Taijuan were all as good as Felix.


One thing that nobody has done, that I've noticed, anyway ... look at the M's road splits and ask, "What if this is the player's actual AL ability -- already?"

In that case, everybody except Olivo, Ryan and Figgins would be doing okay, and six players would be doing, well, this:

Seager .305 .335 .550
Saunders .300 .355 .520
Wells (73 AB) .290 .340 .520
Jaso (72 AB) .265 .330 .460
Montero .300 .340 .430
Ichiro .305 .320 .405

The road version of Ichiro is on pace for 107 runs scored.  Think about it for a few moments.

What if Ichiro is, inherently, still a defensive specialist who is a .300 AVG, 100 R speed player?  Our perception of him is that he should retire.  How much of that perception is due to the Safeco effect?  Trade Ichiro to the Red Sox or Rangers, and see whether he turns out to have been done.  We did that with Beltre.  Beltre was a 6-7 WAR player who was completely camoflaged by Safeco.  It's possible that the late-30's version of Ichiro is similar. ... if he is, I don't know what you do about it.  What were the Mariners going to do about Adrian Beltre?


I'd still move home plate out by 5-10 feet, and would close the roof when the temp was below 60 degrees.  But there is the option of making sure that your hitters don't sweat the Safeco shutouts, while you go about improving the ballclub.



Dr D


Taro's picture

Really think the Ms need to fix the airflow to stop the deflation of base hits. They move the fences in and I think it kills us (opposition will benefit far more).

paracorto's picture

another Campaneris, Rudi, Bando, Jackson, North, Tenace, Hunter, Holtzman, Blue and Fingers. As for now the M's have one (Felix), it's just a matter to find a couple of pitching aces like him, plus a full new lineup of future HoF's and magically we are... WORLD CHAMPIONS !!! It was that easy.

ghost's picture

...that team had a team OPS+ of 108 so the line-up isn't as hard to fill as you're making it sound. Plus, we already have our Bando (Seager once he gets his home numbers righted a bit) and our Bill Borth (Saunders...more power, less walks, but still...same rough production). And we've got our Ray Fosse (Olivo when not overused) and our DH/C version of Gene Tenace (Montero once he gets hot)....there is real talent in our just hasn't finished gelling yet.


2008 SF Giants -- one great pitcher, one very good pitcher, and zilch
2010 SF Giants -- add Posey, add Bumgarner, sprinkle in a few other guys, win World Series
2010 Wash Nats -- one great pitcher, one very good 3b, and zilch (unless you're a big Mike Morse fan)
2012 Wash Nats -- add Harper, add Jo. Zimmermann, sprinkle in a few other guys, best record in NL
Just sayin.


Good job Doc, and you too B.James.
Safeco is Safeco.
I don't see anything wrong with closing the roof...but let's quit talking about it man. Tell the kids to go out and hit. Edgar hit here, guys. It can be done.
Now go take your whacks and play ball.
The more we whine about it the worse we make it.

paracorto's picture

because they won three consecutive WS in those years and obviously they knew something more than others how to win games. And even IF Seager, Saunders, Montero and Ackley become outstanding players in a couple of years Felix is a free agent commanding a 200-million contract, we need a 40-plus homers RF with another BIG contract and finally we need that at least two among Hultzen, Walker and Paxton become quickly front of the line starters. Oh, I forgot Franklin to become the new Campaneris. All right, everything can happen under this sky.


... that the early-70's A's did not have a great batting order.
 It was solid 1 thru 8 with two All-Stars, Reggie and Sal Bando.  Their offense was sort of like the 2001 Mariners - not as good as the 2001 Mariners - but based on having no weak sisters anywhere.
Also, the Mariners do not have to win three straight World Series like Charlie O. did.  That's not the minimum acceptable standard.
If your judgment is that Safeco needs radical attention, that's cool.  James' point is that there is an outside-the-box approach available:  Get Better.
Me personally, I'd change the park.  A lot.  But in the meantime I'd get myself a Phillies rotation and tell Kyle Seager not to worry about his stats.  :- )


Those breaking pitches were like nothing he's ever thrown.  The man gets better and better and better.
I am seriously afraid that he's going to wind up in the Hall of Fame or something.  At this point it's not clear to me what Greg Maddux could do, that Doug Fister can't.
As far as stats:  he's pitching with an injured rib cage and his FB is down -2 MPH.  It doesn't even matter any more.
How could you watch Doug Fister pitch and conclude that he doesn't fit into your rotation.  Bah humbug. 
The Cubs heard about Lou Brock for 40 years.  Steinbrenner heard about Buhner.  This one's liable to be in that category.
Ah well, no guts no glory.  Can't be afraid of mistakes.


put up a windscreen in that alley, like a fine mesh netting or some kind of paneling or flags that display former Mariner greats or something? Wouldn't that break up the cross breeze and solve the problem?

Taro's picture

Closing the roof is probably the easy fix, but the wind still blows in from that section with the roof closed. They'd still have to close off that gap.
Maybe they don't want to do that for aesthetic reasons, but it won't be fixed until they do.


Hey, if closing the roof has a significant effect ... why not an appealing LF panel/flags wind barrier that can be rotated open and closed.  
Maybe -- as opposed to closing the roof -- that would be more aesthetic.  It's tough:  that non-existent LF "wall" is what gives a view of the Seattle city skyline.
The director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest once complained that the ratings bureau asked him to remove three scenes:  the kid's suicide, Nicholson's lobotomy, and something else.  :- )  You know, the three pivot points.
Somebody call Chuck and tell him that item goes on the PowerPoint agenda.

paracorto's picture

Yes Sir, that's the real cure I guess. Give me a pitching staff able to keep any game on the line and suddenly nobody cares anymore of Safeco or the fences, the roof, the wind, the sea, the cold spring, ect...ect... I suppose that when Reggie wrote their opponents were on the ropes being 0-1 after just one inning it was because they had Hunter, Holtzman, Blue and Fingers on the mound.


Install acrylic (transparent) blinds. You can always see the skyline, (open or closed).
But, close the blinds (stop the wind) when Seattle is at the plate.
Open the blinds when the opposition is batting.

ghost's picture

That would be quite the chicanery. I like it. :)

RickmIcheld's picture

Felix, Pineda, Fister, Bedard, Vargas. Went on a long losing streak.


Last year's rotation with this year's offense.  The 2009-10 offenses were historically inept.  
Okay, okay, maybe last year's rotation with next year's offense...

RockiesJeff's picture

Jeff, ah those A's! So give us Charley-O and we are set? Been a busy summer but glad you are keeping up the great work. Safeco might feel like a wasteland to young hitters but it is not as if the other team gets to play from the ladies' tees. Still 5 ounce ball with 90 foot bases. I have no doubt the Safeco gets to the newbies as they play it more than the visitors (just like everyone complained the same way about the beloved home of concrete in the Dome). May I ask if part of that difference right now is not as much from home to the fences but to be found in the distance between the ears?
I need to get to a game up there. A shorter left field might be a good idea but once those guys realize they can win there....eventually it may serve as an advantage?

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