So back in Part 1 we concluded that the Mariners offensive woes in July did not result from a lack of singles, or doubles or triples. They weren’t great with walks, but they hadn’t been great with walks all year. And their strikeout rate was the same as it had been.
In fact, let’s just repeat that table here for reference:
Other than the odd quirk of not reaching base by the other teams’ errors, the whole deal was a lack of homers.
So we set out to figure out what happened. Was a month of very bad fortune or an indication that the offense was just not very good? Or some of both?
Stat interlude: Home runs-per-fly ball or HR/FB is sort of a “hybrid” stat in that there is a fair amount of variation in where it stands at any one time, but it also tends to vary around a “center of gravity” (so to speak) for each player. Unlike BABIP, which tends to revert to around .300 for most players other than outliers, HR/FB tends to revert to a range that is dependent on the type of hitter. League average is 7.1%, with power hitters like Jose Abreu and Giancarlo Stanton up over 25%. But there are only six qualifying guys over 20%, so that’s unusual power. More “regular” power hitters will be up over 10%, while more light-hitting guys will be in the single digits.
Willie Bloomquist has 3000 MLB plate appearances and a 1.7% HR/FB rate. Endy Chavez has 3300 MLB PAs and a 2.8% rate. Miguel Olivo has 4000 PAs and an 11.5% rate. Adam Dunn: 17.9%. You get the idea.
So what we did was look at each month and calculate the number of fly balls hit by Mariner hitters, and the estimated number of home runs we would project simply by applying that particular hitter’s career HR/FB rate to those fly balls.
And here’s what we get:
- The estimated home run total was virtually the same in April, May and June: 18 or 19. It went down in July, to 15.
- The estimated total was exceeded in the first three months, and handily in June, but not met in July.
- Seager, Zunino and Saunders met or exceeded their quotas, although Saunders only played part of July, but Seager and Saunders were estimated to have lower production due to fewer balls hit in the air.
- The biggest single failure to perform up to career norms was Corey Hart, who was given 7.2% of all team plate appearances, and did not deliver a single home run. Ditto for Kendrys Morales, though he arrived late in the month and only got 2.6% of team PAs.
In Part 4 we’ll look a little deeper at the “new blood” that was supposed to bolster the offense.