2014 All-Star Break: How good are these Mariners?

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This is my first blog post, so bear with me as I’m new to this Seattle fans (it’s quite long, but hopefully entertaining). It’s the All-Star Break and a good time to look back at the first-half of the season.

I basically wanted to do a post on my first-half reflections on our 2014 Seattle Mariners. It’s been well over a decade since that magical 116-win season, but any loyal Mariners fan would tell you it’s felt like longer than that. For the last 12+ seasons, baseball has been irrelevant in the Pacific Northwest. Every year began with feelings of hope only for those feelings to be dashed rather quickly.

Finally, this team has this city buzzing about the playoffs. If the season ended today, the M’s would be up against the Angels in a one-game wildcard playoff. But how good are they really? Can they sustain this for the rest of the season? I decided it would be fun to do a comparison with the last Mariners team that made the playoffs via the wildcard – the 2000 Seattle Mariners, who went 91-71, a very realistic record for the current club. From a general standpoint, the 2000 team had a stronger offense and the 2014 team has a better pitching staff.

But I want to delve in a little deeper, and compare using a statistic that most accurately reflects the value of a player: WAR. For those who don’t know, WAR is short for Wins-Above-Replacement. Using complex math that I don’t want to get into, it essentially measures how many more wins a player provides than an average replacement would. It takes into account statistics from all phases of the game to determine a single number, which makes it much easier for people like me to look at.

Now…let us begin.

Catcher:

2000 – Dan Wilson: 0.4

2014 – Mike Zunino: 0.6

1st Base:

2000 – John Olerud: 3.6

2014 – Justin Smoak: -0.6

2nd Base:

2000 – Mark McLemore: 1.3

2014 – Robinson Cano: 3.7

Shortstop:

2000 – Alex Rodriguez: 10.4 (Maybe this got to his head…)

2014 – Brad Miller: 1.0

3rd Base:

2000 – David Bell: 0.9

2014 – Kyle Seager: 4.1

 Left Field:

2000 – Rickey Henderson: -0.6

2014 – Dustin Ackley: 0.5

Center Field:

2000 – Mike Cameron: 4.0

2014 – James Jones: 0.6

Right Field:

2000 – Jay Buhner: 1.9

2014 – Michael Saunders: 2.0

Designated Hitter:

2000 – Edgar Martinez: 5.7

2014 – Corey Hart/Logan Morrison: -0.1 for both

Position Player Total WAR:

2000: 27.6

2014: 11.8

Obviously this team doesn’t have an MVP-caliber A-Rod on the team so, from a position-player standpoint, this isn’t even close.

What about pitching?

Starting Pitchers:

2000:

Aaron Sele: 2.5

Paul Abbott: 2.6

John Halama: 0.1

Freddy Garcia: 1.7

Jamie Moyer: -0.1

2014:

Felix Hernandez: 4.4

Hisashi Iwakuma: 2.0

Chris Young: 2.2

Taijuan Walker: 0.1 (He’s only started 2 games so this will likely improve)

Roenis Elias: -0.1

Pitcher Total WAR:

2000: 6.8

2014: 8.6

This gap will likely increase with Taijuan Walker getting more starts under his belt in the second half of the season and the return of James Paxton (assuming he is not trade bait) will replace Elias’s poor WAR – though he has battled and performed admirably in the first-half.

Now we absolutely cannot forget the bullpen because the 2014 Mariners have arguably the best bullpen in the entire league. I’ve selected the top-4 relief pitchers plus the closer from each team to compare with the same statistic.

Bullpen:

2000:

Jose Mesa: -0.2

Jose Paniagua: 1.5

Arthur Rhodes: 0.6

Robert Ramsay: 0.7

Kazuhiro Sasaki: 1.3

2014:

Tom Wilhelmsen: 0.8

Danny Farquhar: 0.7

Yoervis Medina: 0.8

Dominic Leone: 1.0

Fernando Rodney: 1.0

Bullpen Total WAR:

2000: 3.9

2014: 4.3

As evidenced above, the 2014 team has better pitching than the 2000 team did, but the 2000 club had a much more potent offense and better position-players overall than the current squad. Here are the totals for all positions.

Total WAR:

2000: 38.3

2014: 24.7

This is quite a disparity and it shows that the M’s may need to be looking for a bat or two (especially a right-handed outfielder) to acquire before the trade deadline if they hope to stay in the wildcard race. This group has shown tremendous grit and won some tough games, but that can only get you so far sometimes. They’ll likely need to add a couple veteran bats to the order or have a current player absolutely go off in the second half of the season if they want to play in October.

Regardless, everyone in Seattle should still be excited about these Mariners. They are in a great position and I still believe they have a good shot at the postseason. Either way, it will be interesting to watch what happens the second half of the 2014 season. Maybe, just maybe, baseball will actually matter in September this year…or dare I say it…OCTOBER.

Go M’s!

 

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2 thoughts on “2014 All-Star Break: How good are these Mariners?

  1. Hey Connor! First off, congratulations on your new blog! I am excited to keep reading what you post. I was just curious about one thing. Were you calculating the 2014 M’s WAR based on WAR to date or Projected WAR? Also, are you using Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference? I wsa just curious because if you are using total final season WAR for the 2000 squad and either to-date or projected WAR it may be better to analyze the 2014 squad by accumulated WAR + projected rest-of-season WAR. In any case I enjoyed the post and hope to see more!

    Like

  2. I just used the standard WAR that they have on Baseball-Reference (I’m not sure if those are projections on the current players or not), so I appreciate the tip I may have to go back and look at that! Thanks!

    Like

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