Monday, April 22, 2013

M's and double plays

The Seattle Mariners are overachievers.

The other day after listening to the M's lose 2-1 in 14 inning to the Tigers--a game in which they hit into three twin-killings and had the potential tying run thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the 14th--I wondered aloud on Facebook how a team that gets so few baserunners and whiffs so often mangages to hit into so many double plays.

DP. It's happening to the M's a lot.
This evening I dug up the stats, and the numbers are truly amazing. Through Sunday's games the Mariners are 27th in Major League Baseball in on-base percentage (a paltry .285) and second in whiffs (167) yet somehow they have managed to lead all of baseball, grounding into 20 double plays.

I vaguely remember Bill James writing that the highest-scoring teams hit into the most double plays and leave the most men on base. I didn't dig up the reference, but the logic, as I recall, was simply that all three are to a great extent a function of having a lot of guys ON base. So for Seattle, a club that has a low average, draws few walks, and strikes out a ton, to lead the league in GDPs is quite an accomplishment. It could simply be that we've got a lot of slow guys who hit grounders. Even on the rare occasion when someone gets on first, it's just the pitcher's best friend waiting to happen.

One other interesting stat: The M's are tied for 26th in the majors in runs scored with 61. The three teams they've outscored are all National League clubs that let their pitchers bat. Nevertheless, let's be thankful for the Miami Marlins. Miami is last in baseball in scoring with a meager 43 runs in 19 games. Their team OPS is .557, average .212, on-base .271, and slugging .286. As a team they have six home runs already; they're "on a pace" for 51 taters for the season. As pathetic as we think the Mariners' offense is, they're outscoring Miami by nearly two runs per game.

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