10/08/12 7:11 PM ET
In 2012, Mariners played interesting numbers game
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
• The Mariners won eight more games this year than in 2011, improving to 75-87. But while their scoring took a fairly significant jump from 556 runs to 619, their batting average was virtually the same (.233 to .234) and their on-base percentage nudged up just slightly more from to .292 to .296.
Where did the increased production come from? Home runs were up from 109 to 149 and slugging percentage bumped from .348 to .369.
• The Mariners got stronger despite the lack of a big thumper. Home run leader Kyle Seager finished with 20, tied for 39th in the league. The only AL team without a player with 20-plus homers was Cleveland, where Carlos Santana led with 18. The Yankees and Orioles each had five players with 20-plus homers and the White Sox and Orioles had four.
But two more Mariners at least came close, with Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders each hitting 19. Seattle finished with eight players with more than 10 home runs, its most double-digit dingers since 1997.
• On the pitching side, Seattle improved its ERA from 3.90 to 3.76, fourth-best in the AL. The Mariners also lowered their batting average against from .251 to .248, also fourth in the league, while home runs allowed climbed from 145 to 166 (5th in the AL).
• When Felix Hernandez was good, he was very good. In 13 wins, he posted a 1.12 ERA with a 0.74 WHIP. Even in his 11 no-decisions, he had a 2.45 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. But in his nine losses, The King had a very humble 7.99 ERA and 2.13 WHIP.
Obviously pitchers always have worse numbers in their losses, but those are much higher than normal for Hernandez. In 2011, he had a 5.05 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in his 14 losses. In his 2010 Cy Young season, he posted a 4.54 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in 12 defeats.
• Against the Angels, King Felix was 0-3 with a 6.25 ERA in five games. Against the rest of baseball, he was 13-6 with a 2.56 ERA in 28 starts.
Part of Hernandez's difficulty with the Angels: Rookie sensation Mike Trout went 9-for-17 (.529) with a double, triple, home run and eight RBIs and a whopping 1.409 OPS against him.
• Against the Angels, Hisashi Iwakuma was 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in five games. Against the rest of baseball, he was 5-5 with a 3.75 ERA in 25 games.
Part of Iwakuma's success against the Angels: Trout was 2-for-12 (.167) with no extra base hits or RBIs against him, and a lowly .397 OPS.
• Manager Eric Wedge repeatedly said the goal of his starting pitchers was to give the team the best chance to win each game, regardless of their own outcome. So it's interesting to note that the pitcher with the team's best won-loss record in games he started was Iwakuma at 10-6. The Mariners were 17-16 when Jason Vargas started, 13-13 when Blake Beavan started, 16-17 with Felix, 11-17 with Kevin Millwood, 3-5 with Erasmo Ramirez and 5-13 with Hector Noesi.
• A big factor in those records, obviously, is run support. Beavan took advantage of the team's highest run support at 4.54 per game in his starts. He was followed by Vargas (4.27), Iwakuma (4.00), Ramirez (3.63), Hernandez (3.52), Millwood (3.32) and Noesi (3.22).
• The Mariners record when they traded Ichiro was 42-55 (.433). After his departure, they went 33-32 (.508). The trade didn't seem to bother Ichiro much, either, as he was hitting .261 with 15 stolen bases and a .641 OPS in 95 games for Seattle, then batted .322 with 14 stolen bases and a .794 OPS in 67 games for the Yankees.
The Yankees were 57-38 (.600) when they acquired Ichiro, 38-29 (.567) after his arrival ... and of course are now in the American League Division Series, with Ichiro playing a key role.
• The Mariners offensive struggles at Safeco Field were dramatic again this season, and the decision has already been made to move the fences in next year. That should increase home runs to some degree, but the question remains how it will affect batting averages.
The Mariners' home average of .220 was their lowest since the park opened in mid-1999 and opposing teams had their second-lowest average in that span at .229. (Opponents hit .222 in Safeco in 2001).
• Conversely, the Mariners hit .247 on the road (a 27-point increase from their home average), while their opponents hit .266 (a 37-point increase from what they hit at Safeco).
That 27-point variance between the Mariners' home and road batting averages was the third-highest since Safeco opened. They had a 41-point higher batting average on the road in 2000 and a 29-point road advantage in '04.
• Surprisingly, the Mariner with the biggest home-road split in batting average this year was Ichiro. Though he's a career .320 hitter at Safeco, he hit .214 at home and .297 on the road before his trade, for an 83-point difference.
Among full-season Mariners, Seager had the biggest negative home-road difference at minus-70 (.223/.293). Jesus Montero was minus-68 (.227/.295), Smoak was minus-37 (.198/.235) and Saunders minus-33 (.229/.262).
On the flip side, Brendan Ryan was better by 33 points at Safeco (.211/.178), Miguel Olivo was a plus-20 (.233/.213), Dustin Ackley was plus-4 (.228/.224) and John Jaso was plus-1 (.276/.275). And though he had limited playing time, Eric Thames feasted at Safeco (.310 in 58 at-bats) compared to the road (.138 in 65 at-bats).
• Questions persisted as to why Jaso didn't play more regularly -- either home or away -- but he has a pretty severe platoon split of his own. The left-handed Jaso batted .302 with a .927 OPS in 308 plate appearances against right-handers, compared to .119 with a .393 OPS in 53 plate appearances against southpaws.
• Even with their rugged September, the Mariners ended up with a winning record in the second half. Pretty interesting was the post-All-Star standings in the tough AL West. After the break, Oakland went 51-25, the Rangers and Angels were 41-35 and Seattle finished 39-36.