It’s been a while since we’ve posted on here, sorry. I can’t really defend myself aside from not being able to watch many Mariner games so I’ve been stuck following them over my laptop. That said, I intend to post more.
The Mariners are on a streak that we Washingtonians aren’t quite used to. They’ve won 7 of their last 8 games and are only a game and a half out of first. If it wasn’t for a bad week from Brandon League they’d be in first and a few games above .500. For the first time in a couple of years the M’s be playing very meaningful games in the month of June (barring an absolute collapse in the next 5 days). They’ve been winning games the way they were supposed to win games last year; with great pitching and timely hitting.
Over the course of this hot-streak (which began on April 26th) the Mariners have outscored their opponents 98-71. That has given the Mariners a record of 16-10 over that stretch.
As you can see that’s a 26 game period and the Mariners have scored 98 runs in those 26 games. In other words, 3.77 runs a game. That is not very many. To set a comparison, The Twins, considered by many to be the American League’s worst offense, have scored 3.5 runs a game during that same amount of time. The poor Twinkies have gone 7-19 in the last 26 games while putting up only .27 runs/game less than the Mariners (or 7 runs total).
The Bronx Bombers, who may not have the best offense in the Majors this year but continually put out an outstanding offense, have gone 13-13 over the last 26 games. But unlike the Mariners, they have scored 4.77 runs a game. That’s a full run better than the Mariners a game (or 26 runs total). I admit, the Yankees have gotten a little unlucky, since they’ve outscored opponents 124-106 during this stretch and still only came out with a .500 record. With that said, the point remains that the Mariners have scored 1 run/game less than the Yankees and still have outscored their opponents by 9 runs more than them.
If you’ve read this far, congratulations. There were far too many numbers in those paragraphs without me even getting to the point.
Clearly, the Mariners are not winning these games with offense. You don’t need me crunching numbers to tell you that, just take a look at one of their lineup cards. What the Mariners are doing is winning with pitching.
During this 26 game stretch the M’s have only given up 2.73 runs a game. That’s insane. It’s just a small sample size you say? Fair enough, but if you count the whole season instead of just the hot streak the M’s are still only giving up 3.73 runs/game. That is incredible, especially considering Erik Bedard’s slow start and the bullpen collapses by Brandon League. Every team will suffer a few blow outs and without those the numbers would be even lower.
Now, to the point of what this series is about: Does this number show that this is the best Mariners rotation ever? Here’s a few numbers from past rotations to compare.
2011 Mariners (Through 49 games) – 3.73 runs allowed/game
2010 Mariners – 4.31 runs allowed/game (This rotation included Felix, Fister, Vargas, and Cliff Lee for half a year. Not too shabby.)
2009 Mariners – 4.27 runs allowed/game (A Team that won with pitching first, much like this year. But they don’t hold a candle to what this team is doing.)
2007 Mariners – 5.02 runs allowed/game (A year in which the Mariners which 88-74, their best year since 2003. This year the M’s did it with their bats (Jose Vidro is somewhere smiling). And luck.)
2003 Mariners – 3.93 runs allowed/game (Considered by many the best Mariners rotation ever, the ’03 Mariners used the same 5 starters all year. They put up great numbers but are still .2 runs behind this year’s squad. .2 runs amasses to 32.4 runs over 162 games, if you were wondering.)
2001 Mariners – 3.87 runs allowed/game (This team set a Major League record for wins and they’re still behind by a good amount.)
1997 Mariners – 5.14 runs allowed/game (The Mariners won their division this year. Obviously they were more hitting oriented.)
1995 Mariners – 4.88 runs allowed/game (The magical year. Obviously, the same goes as 1997.)
1991 Mariners – 4.16 runs allowed/game (The first year the Mariners were above .500 and also their lowest amount of runs until the 2001 team.)
1977 Mariners – 5.28 runs allowed/game (The first Mariners team.)
As you can see, this team is ahead of any Mariners team in giving up runs. If they keep the current pace of 3.73 runs/game they’d end up giving 604 runs the entire year. Allowing less than 600 runs in a year has only happened 4 times since the steroid era began. The teams that have accomplished this are last year’s Padres and Giants, the ’03 Dodgers, the ’02 Braves (Thank you NL West, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux). The Braves and Phillies are on pace to easily do it this year but this feat hasn’t happened in the American League since the early ’90’s. The Mariners have a shot at something special, and it’s not just contention.
Disclaimer: I do realize that runs allowed has other factors involved than just the starting rotation, most notably the bullpen and defense. Also, I should include that Safeco Field is a pitcher’s park (just like Petco and Target Field where the Mariners have had their hot streak). But, the rotation’s ERA is much lower than the bullpen’s and that’s saying something because the bullpen has been solid. Also, the defense has been a little below average so far in most fielding metrics.
So, there you go. That’s some basic stats that show you just how good the Mariners rotation has been thus far and how they stack up historically. We’ll look at some different factors in the next couple days. For now, just enjoy what’s been the best Mariners rotation ever, so far….