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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Safeco Field is the Mariners' Problem


Lately, the Mariners have been very disappointing to watch as there appears to be no offense being produced by the team at all. It has created large amounts of discussion by the journalists, the bloggers, the radio hosts, and Eric Wedge; with all calling for a significant change. In fact, reading the tweets from the various journalists, Wedge has gone on record saying that he is going to create some changes because the job isn’t getting done and he and Jack Z have back that up somewhat by sending Hector Noesi down to AAA Tacoma and recalling Carlos Perguero, creating shutters through the Mariners blogosphere. While it’s nice to see the team want to fix the team’s problems, shuttling players between Tacoma and Seattle will not create the solution, what needs to happen is the Mariners need to fix Safeco field now.

Major league teams tend to hit better at their home park than on the road. There are many theories as to why that is from the fact which range from sleeping in their own beds, to being used to the field, to not have travel. The theories do not matter as much because each one may be different on a player by player basis and the real key is that players just tend to hit better at home. The statistics for MLB back this up as shown in the table below

2012 All MLB Team Stats
All Teams
BB/K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
ISO
BABIP
wRC
wRAA
wOBA
wRC+
Home
0.44
811
0.326
0.416
0.742
0.157
0.299
5596
256.9
0.323
101
Away
0.39
843
0.313
0.396
0.709
0.145
0.293
5228
-300.3
0.309
92

From the data, we can conclude that teams do in fact tend to hit worse on the road than at home, though there isn’t much disparity between the two. However, when we look at the Mariners’ statistics, we get a very different picture.

2012 Seattle Mariners
Home/Away
OPS
ISO
BABIP
wRC
wRAA
wOBA
wRC+
Home
0.43
22
0.273
0.289
0.562
0.093
0.24
92
-72.5
0.253
58
Away
0.34
34
0.308
0.415
0.723
0.158
0.298
195
-3.2
0.314
100

Not only are the Mariners hitting better on the road, but it’s a stark contrast with the every batted ball statistic showing significantly more offense on the road. The wOBA is 61 points higher, wRC is 103 runs more, wRC+ is 62 runs more. It’s not just a little more offense, but it appears that the offense is roughly twice as good on the road than at home. When you compare these numbers with the league averages, it starts to make the observer wonder if the Mariners played all their games on the road if there team would have an above average league offense.

Now, those of you who know Safeco field know that it favors left handed hitters more than right handed hitters, so many of you are probably concluding that only the right handed hitters are experiencing an issue. That isn’t exactly the case.
2012 Seattle Mariners Home Statistics
Players
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
ISO
BABIP
wRC
wRAA
wOBA
wRC+
Ackley
0.216
0.298
0.269
0.567
0.052
0.283
9.7
-7.5
0.254
59
Ichiro
0.217
0.257
0.298
0.555
0.081
0.245
9.9
-9.7
0.245
53
Jaso
0.266
0.392
0.438
0.83
0.172
0.294
12.2
3.2
0.365
135
Montero
0.209
0.246
0.343
0.59
0.134
0.258
9
-7.2
0.253
58
Olivo
0.184
0.205
0.303
0.508
0.118
0.218
2.1
-6.9
0.207
27
Ryan
0.211
0.336
0.263
0.599
0.053
0.253
10.4
-3.3
0.282
78
Saunders
0.189
0.263
0.264
0.527
0.075
0.264
6.8
-6.7
0.246
53
Seager
0.157
0.265
0.261
0.526
0.104
0.186
9.1
-8.8
0.246
53
Smoak
0.165
0.229
0.241
0.47
0.075
0.181
4.5
-12
0.213
31
Wells
0.263
0.333
0.439
0.772
0.175
0.351
8.5
1.3
0.341
118

With the exception of Jaso, all of the left handed hitters are not hitting very well at home to include Justin Smoak, though Smoak’s statistics have not been split into left and right handed statistics because of the worry of small sample size. What is interesting is that Casper Wells, a right handed hitter is doing very well at Safeco. Now if we look at the away splits you get a better picture of the season as a whole.

2012 Seattle Mariners Away Statistics
Players
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
ISO
BABIP
wRC
wRAA
wOBA
wRC+
Ackley
0.25
0.328
0.378
0.706
0.128
0.298
21.7
-0.2
0.314
100
Ichiro
0.293
0.311
0.397
0.708
0.103
0.295
20.8
-1.3
0.307
95
Jaso
0.29
0.357
0.484
0.841
0.194
0.327
10.5
2.5
0.359
131
Montero
0.279
0.313
0.407
0.72
0.129
0.324
16.4
-0.8
0.309
97
Olivo
0.226
0.242
0.419
0.661
0.194
0.239
7.7
-3.1
0.275
73
Ryan
0.165
0.25
0.281
0.531
0.116
0.216
7
-8.7
0.237
47
Saunders
0.301
0.356
0.524
0.88
0.223
0.35
30.3
9.7
0.382
147
Seager
0.318
0.349
0.561
0.91
0.242
0.344
28.6
9.6
0.388
151
Smoak
0.233
0.297
0.403
0.7
0.17
0.261
18.5
-1.5
0.305
94
Wells
0.24
0.321
0.36
0.681
0.12
0.355
5.9
-0.6
0.303
93

As you can see, the breakout for each player demonstrates how hard Safeco has been on many of the players, especially the younger players. Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager have been absolute monsters on the road with wRC+ that put them in the neighborhood of Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrerra, Robinson Cano, and Matt Holliday. Meanwhile, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, and Justin Smoak have been near league average. Even Ichiro, with all of the talk that he is past his prime appears to be close to league average and when you account for his defense and 12.4 runs saved this year, he appears to be an above average player again. The truth is that though this team appears to be struggling, the home field cannot be ignored as the offense may be at least average, if not better than average if Safeco Field would just play better. To better illustrate how much of an impact the field has on the offense examine the following table which takes the home statistics and subtracts the away statistics.

2012 Seattle Mariners Home Minus Away Statistics
Players
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
ISO
BABIP
wRC
wRAA
wOBA
wRC+
Ackley
-0.034
-0.03
-0.109
-0.139
-0.076
-0.015
-12
-7.3
-0.06
-41
Ichiro
-0.076
-0.054
-0.099
-0.153
-0.022
-0.05
-10.9
-8.4
-0.062
-42
Jaso
-0.024
0.035
-0.046
-0.011
-0.022
-0.033
1.7
0.7
0.006
4
Montero
-0.07
-0.067
-0.064
-0.13
0.005
-0.066
-7.4
-6.4
-0.056
-39
Olivo
-0.042
-0.037
-0.116
-0.153
-0.076
-0.021
-5.6
-3.8
-0.068
-46
Ryan
0.046
0.086
-0.018
0.068
-0.063
0.037
3.4
5.4
0.045
31
Saunders
-0.112
-0.093
-0.26
-0.353
-0.148
-0.086
-23.5
-16.4
-0.136
-94
Seager
-0.161
-0.084
-0.3
-0.384
-0.138
-0.158
-19.5
-18.4
-0.142
-98
Smoak
-0.068
-0.068
-0.162
-0.23
-0.095
-0.08
-14
-10.5
-0.092
-63
Wells
0.023
0.012
0.079
0.091
0.055
-0.004
2.6
1.9
0.038
25
Mean
-0.0518
-0.03
-0.1095
-0.1394
-0.058
-0.0476
-8.52
-6.32
-0.0527
-36.3

There are literally only three regular players who are hitting better at home than on the road: Jaso, Wells, and Ryan. Jaso’s statistics are close enough that random variation could be the explanation, but with Wells and Ryan are obviously following the standard belief that hitters do hit better at home. The significance of the delta between the home and away wRC+ should give most people cause however. With such a stark contrast between the home and away statistics, if the Mariners have Hit F/X, they should probably use it to see what is going on and act accordingly. All of the reduced offense at home cannot be good for developing players because they will make adjustments and they may be making the wrong ones because the field is playing so poorly. Yes, a change must be made but to the field and not to the team. The field is broken and it’s an easy fix. I would even argue, move the fences in during the All Star Break, it wouldn’t offer the break between seasons but Seattle move into Safeco mid-year. Why not fix the field now and see how much better things get?


1 comment:

  1. I don't think you can move in the fences till the season is over, but loved the article!

    ReplyDelete

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