BY DA NUMBAS
The M's are in first place this morning and will be in first place tomorrow morning, whatever the outcome of today's games. House money baby.
Their Pythag record is 17-10 and their 122:93 run differential would project to 102 wins. However, the M's have one of the greatest bullpens in baseball or basketball history, so you can safely bank at least 110-52 this season. How do you think we match up against the Cubs? May need K-Pax to split the Arietta series...
They're on pace to out-homer their rivals by 228 to 150, which is comparable to Toronto last year, 232 to 173 and to Houston last year, 230 to 148.
Can you dig pig on Isao Machii, who can cut a BB in half with his katana. Oh, I know what yer thinkin' ... yes, he can cut a 100 MPH baseball in half -- from 30 feet. On the draw. I fancy that Machii could make good contact in the American League with half a season's play in AAA.
What would he look like as a player? Probably something very similar to Nori Aoki. You can see the seeds of Machii's sports motion in Aoki's.
The "specialness" of Lee's attributes are two:
1) His size was always going to transcend the usual Asian question of translated SLG.
2) He's got this step-in-the-bucket motion that eliminates jam pitches from consideration. Yesterday, the Orcs tried a high inside pitch that was two baseballs in off the plate, and it cost them one precious game in the standings.
Remarkably, Lee can either step in the bucket lightly and still hit the ball out to center, as he has done twice, or he can step in the bucket as a strategy as Ichiro used to do when gambling long ball. I dunno about you, but it's fun to watch. And a novel problem for hapless AL West rodent pitchers. If you can't convince them with logic, baffle them with baloney.
Whose AB's should Lee be absorbing now? A little of everybody's, notably Franklin Gutierrez'. Time to see if the M's have lucked into a Jung-ho Kang, if not something more like a Jose Abreu. Four homers in 32 AB's and every one of them has closed a conversation.
Two gorgeous bunts yesterday, one for a base hit, the other a textbook sacrifice with two runners on and nobody out. Gimme 2B, 3B, 0 out, Top of the Order and I'll set up a speed dial to your pizza joint.
You wonder what the upper limits are for number of bunts. Granted, it's tougher than it looks ... to these players, who do not exactly practice bunting as much as they practice fielding ground balls. Shift Rod Carew and find out how many hits you give up ...
The word now is that Leonydas never tries to hit the ball over the fence. Well, in that sense, neither did Carlos Peguero. Fact is there's work to be done here, and Leonydas is going to need a batting average that exceeds .199. Fact is, he has collected 1.6 WAR for us early on, holding down the line until Kyle Seager gets rolling. So, :: golfclap ::
The Mainframe actually lost count of 100-MPH launch velocities during Mordor Weekend. The most dorkable was at the 2-1 score, runner on 2B, and Cano hit a 425-foot shot ... six feet off the ground for a deep single.
"Old Players' Skills" direct themselves towards added BB and extra HR. Cano's career highs are 65 BB, 29 HR, and .534 SLG. Who's taking the under? Not Dr. D.
And, finally, the M's are taking advantage of a 2B who can hit #3. They have stuffed their corners with RBI men -- Cruz, Lind, Lee, Seager, Seth Smith. That's what a team is supposed to do when it gets a MOTO hitter in the middle infield.
It's anybody's guess how the ESPN HR Tracker pared his moon shot down to 446 feet. Here's the video again; the Mariners had started with bases empty 0 out when Robby Cano had singled in Ketel Marte with the tying run. The A's reeling, Cruz then delivered the comedy-movie uppercut that flipped them somersaulting over the top rope and into the Copenhagen row.
The most dorkable part of it -- the horizontal angle of 90.8, which perfectly bisected second base, the center fielder, and the fan's popcorn cup. The angle of Burns' cap was also most amusing for the Dungeon Master up in DiPoto's box.
Has settled in at .250/.346/.368
THE FAMED "WE'RE GOING TO GET THIS ONE FOR YOU" SCREAMS...
As Servais characterized them in the dugout, after Felix got behind 8-4. I take it that we SSI denizens have since relaxed about our hitting woes against lefty pitchers ... Mojo flatly declared "this team is special" and early on, it is. Nine times out of ten, a new culture such as "Control the Zone" falls flat by May. The tenth time, that new administration creates an atmosphere that is pregnant with hope and then when a 14-5 run occurs, players "get caught up in the excitement" as Bill James put it.
The question becomes this: will the fragile confidence of SSI denizens survive the next team slump? It better. This ballclub has method and it has madness. Baseball seasons have ebbs and flows, but that ain't Jose Vidro out there playing second base.
A day after Grizzly conceded his plus tools, he looked slick again. I think we were all hoping for a bat-first SS who could avoid embarrassing himself in the field. But there is the rare player who simply learns quickly and evolves as he grows. Pete Rose was such a player. Cal Ripken. Jack Zduriencik used to talk about infielders who could grow themselves through their first few years in the bigs.
Marte's chance of making at least one All-Star team ... we had it at 20% before the season. We're sliding it decisively to 30%, 35%. He and Iannetta are really the two pieces that a 90+ win Mariner team had to have.
Oh by the way. Have you seen Marte's little two-step and slap to LF? He's workin' that shift problem ... the kid seems to have a crazy appetite for baseball grokking.
Don't get me wrong. Felix had flat stuff by his own standards. He deserved to lose.
But then too, the Mariners gave the A's --- > 5, maybe 6 outs in that fifth inning. Dr. D only counted one ball that went over the outfielders' heads or into the gaps. The A's wound up with 6 runs, but they were "soft" runs. Now, then, b'wana: tell me which one of the M's 9 runs were "soft." Grab a magnifying glass and examine carefully. ...thought so. Last time you saw 9 separate "hard" runs in a baseball game?
When we say "luck is involved in baseball" we of course do not mean that the players have no effect on what's going on -- only that, given the same pitches and bases and bounces, one day the scoreboard can show 3 runs and the next day it might show 8.
Felix did indeed have a hard time drawing swings and misses, but on the other hand, he was generally inducing fairly mild contact. Circumstances conspired to create 8 runs against him, as circumstances would in about 20%, 30% of such games he threw.
He's sitting on a 2.28 ERA and a 4.11 FIP. Batters are hitting about .100 against his curve ball and about .100 against his changeup. Carlos Silva he's not, but he's got continued adjustments to make. At worst he'll come out the other end a #2 starter. For right now, he is logically the #12 starter in baseball.
Still, it's nice to have a next generation (Taijuan, the KKKarnivore, K-Pax) phasing in.