Hello there, King Felix’s Courtoholics! Courtians? Courters? Yeah, that one works better. Hello there, King Felix’s Courters! This will be my last post at King Felix’s Court, which is a very sad thing. But it’s not all bad! You don’t have to be sad for long. Wipe those tears off of your face–we’re not dead. Jeez. The content you’ve gotten used to seeing here on King Felix’s Court will now be moving to West Coast Bias. Our nifty banner that you see on top of this page will be accompanying all of the baseball posts we create, so it’s not the end of King Felix’s court. It’s now just the baseball section of West Coast Bias.
You don’t have to worry about the baseball coverage changing. It will be just as awesome and vulgar as ever before. The only difference you’ll see for me as a writer, is that I’ll be writing about the Seahawks, the NFL, and WSU sports as well. While my main focus will be baseball, it finally allows me to expand my horizons to other sports.
I’ll miss this place, but we’re moving out of an apartment and in to a nice three bedroom house. Come over and join us. Come to our house-warming…we’ll bring the beer, just bring yourself a bottle of your own poison! Come on in…
I was going to write about how the Mariners shouldn’t be fooled by Justin Smoak’s recent resurgence today, but Dave Cameron wrote an article at U.S.S. Mariner today that basically is exactly what I wanted to say (so obviously go read it. It’s really good! I even put the link there for you! You only have to click it!) so I figured I’d go off the beaten path and take a moment to analyze what is currently in the front of my mind right now: the Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football tonight.
Understandably, the national media is not giving the Seahawks much of a chance. After all, the Seahawks went 7-9 last year, and the Packers went 15-1. Sure, both teams are 1-1 this year, but recent history suggests that the Packers are far superior to the Seahawks. And I’m not even going to argue that that’s not true–they totally are superior to the Seahawks–right now. But it’s not that some people haven’t noticed–3 of 12 analysts at ESPN.com predict a Seahawks victory. That would’ve been a resounding zero last year. So, while I’m not predicting a Seahawks victory, I think it’s definitely possible that they can pull it off, for these five reasons.
1. The Seahawks can run the football.
Marshawn Lynch’s 207 yards ranked 3rd in the NFL before yesterday’s games, despite playing against a stout Arizona run defense in week one. Sure, the Cowboys defense doesn’t present quite the same challenge, but let’s not take anything away from the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch can run the ball, and since game 8 of last season, when the offensive line finally started to gel, Lynch has averaged 4.9 yards per carry, for 1,148 yards, with nine rushing touchdowns over those eleven games. Those yards have come against good defenses, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Arizona twice. If Lynch has 18-25 carries with 90+ yards, expect the Seahawks to be in the game in the fourth quarter.
2. The Packers can’t stop teams who try to run the football.
The Packers allowed 1,789 yards on the ground, good for 4.7 yards allowed per attempt in 2011. This season, they’ve allowed 280 yards in two games, allowing 5.1 yards per carry. The strength of the Packers’ defense is definitely in their pass defense. They rely on sacks and interceptions to get the ball back into Aaron Rodgers’ hands. Teams that run the ball don’t allow that to happen. In the playoffs last year, the Giants ran for 95 yards in their win at Lambeau. The 49ers ran for 163 yards against the Packers in week 1. The Packers are simply helpless to stop the run.
3. The defense can slow down Aaron Rodgers
Let’s be honest. The Seahawks defense is not going to shut down Aaron Rodgers. He’s probably going to throw for 250+ yards, and throw at least one touchdown. What they can do is slow him down. The 49ers defense, which is a lot like the Seahawks’ defense, except a year or two further along in their development, kept Rodgers and the Packers to 7 points over the first three quarters, forcing the normally unstoppable Green Bay offense to punt six times. The Seahawks’ defense isn’t as good as the 49ers defense, but it’s close, and it could put up numbers as good or better than San Francisco did in week one because of…
4. The 12th Man
This is the one advantage the Seahawks have that the 49ers didn’t have in week one. If the Seahawks were playing Green Bay on the road, I don’t think I’d feel that a win was so possible. But, luckily, the Seahawks are at home, where we have the best home field advantage in the NFL. The pass rush is unsurprisingly better at home, which should make our already good corners look even better against Rodgers’ down-field weapons. Rodgers is too poised to let the noise get to him, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get his offensive linemen for a few false starts, or his wide receivers for a few incorrectly heard routes. The 12th Man should make the Seahawks defense just as potent as the 49ers was in week one.
So will they win? I don’t know, probably not. But it will be a closer game than the national media is expecting, and while I don’t expect it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks walk out of the Clink with a W tonight. So, get that shit done, Seahawks. Surprise the world!
I’ll be back to writing about baseball later tonight/tomorrow morning!
This January, Matthew over at Lookout Landing wrote this article comparing Randy Johnson and Felix Hernandez for the mantle of best pitcher in Franchise history. Matthew wrote an awesome article that showed that essentially, the average King and average Unit seasons reached generally the same level of dominance, despite getting there in different ways.
I’m not going to be able to paint a prettier picture of that than Matthew, because I am really pretty shitty at painting, so don’t even ask me to try! I won’t do it! Instead, I’m going to take a look at how close Felix is getting to most of Randy’s Mariner counting stats. Felix has pitched eight seasons, while Johnson pitched ten years for Seattle, so you’d expect Felix to be getting close to approaching or passing Johnson in most of these categories.
Felix’s inning total seems to be big point in his favor. Since the Mariners took the kid gloves off of Felix in 2008, the King has recorded at least 200 innings pitched the last five seasons, including 233 or more since 2009. (He’s only at 220 this season, but with two starts left to go, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll reach at least 230 again.) He’s been a true definition of a work horse, recording 23 complete games in his career an era where pitchers just don’t throw complete games anymore. At 1609 innings, Felix is just 229.1 innings away from equaling Johnson’s number, meaning Felix will likely surpass that number in nine seasons, while it took Johnson ten to reach that mark.
Interestingly, King Felix is actually not that far off from Johnson in terms of wins, despite playing for far inferior teams. Felix has gotten the credit for the win 98 times, despite the offense deciding to play “Who looks the most like they’re in a coma?” for most of his starts (usually everybody wins that game, by the way. We don’t want to exclude anyone.) Johnson’s 130. Felix should be able to reach this number in two seasons, moving into 2nd place behind Jamie Moyer. It’s interesting to me that no one is discussing Felix as the next potential 300-game winner. He’s already a third of the way there at 26-years old. Johnson had 24 wins at 26-years-old, and managed to get to 300. Felix is probably the best bet of all current pitchers to reach the lofty mark again.
As far as strikeouts go, let’s check back in three years, because you’ve all forgotten how ridiculously, amazingly, impossibly good Randy Johnson was at getting strikeouts, so Felix will have to just wait awhile before anyone brings up that number seriously. He’s almost 700 K’s behind in 229 less innings…and he’s 2nd all-time on the Mariners strikeout list.
Finally, cumulative WAR is where this gets really interesting. Hernandez has already posted 37.8 WAR in his career, averaging 4.7 WAR per season, while Johnson had 37.2 WAR in Mariner blue–though it should be noted that Johnson only threw 61.1 innings in 1996, dragging that number down. That being said, Felix wouldn’t be any more than one regular Felix season behind Johnson, a year ahead of schedule to boot.
So Felix has already surpassed Johnson in WAR, is nowhere close in strikeouts, and is rapidly closing the gaps in innings pitched. The King is likely going to pass all of Johnson’s traditional numbers within the next two years, of course excepting the strikeouts, and, thankfully, the walks as well. The Big Unit better watch is back–which is almost impossible without a camera or a mirror, so good luck, Randy–because King Felix is breathing down his neck for most of Johnson’s counting stats. While counting stats aren’t a great measure of talent necessarily, over time, it shows durability and consistency. It’s likely that barring injury, “King” won’t be just a nickname for Felix; in a two or three seasons, he’ll be the King of all Mariners pitching statistics.
Obviously, John Jaso’s offensive performance has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2012 Seattle Mariners season. After coming to the club in exchange for Josh Lueke last November, he’s managed to maintain an .841 OPS over 312 plate appearances, splitting time between catching and DH’ing. Granted, this is still a relatively small sample that we’re dealing with, and nearly all of those plate appearances have come against right-handed pitching, but an .841 OPS is still an .841 OPS, and any Mariner fan can tell you that an .841 OPS is nothing to scoff at. So, as you would expect, a lot of people are wondering just exactly where this success has come. After all, when he arrived, Jaso was a 28 year-old coming off a 2011 season in which he posted a .651 OPS, over a similar amount of plate appearances.
The difference that really jumps out at you first is the increase in walks. In 2011, John Jaso walked 9.2% of the time – slightly above average, but paltry compared to the 15.7% rate he’s managed to post in 2012, and even the 14.6% he sported a year earlier in 2010. This has been at least partially driven by a lower swing rate on pitches outside of the strike zone, as well as a lower rate of strikes seen in general. In 2012 more than ever, Jaso has been laying off the vast majority of the balls he’s seen, and attacking a high rate of pitches in the strike zone. This is a pretty obvious recipe for success for any big league hitter, and it’s helped lead to a .392 OBP for Jaso. That being said, excellent plate discipline isn’t the only thing that’s contributed to him being the hitter you see today.
Which is where a few other statistics can help further paint the picture that is Jaso’s 2012 season. Many of you probably remember that in the Rays organization, Jaso hadn’t really been recently viewed as a guy with a load of power potential. He hit a decent amount of dingers in the minors for someone who primarily catches, but his slugging percentage and ISO were both below league average between 2010 and 2011 with Tampa Bay. In 2012 however, he has seemingly made the jump to a hitter with an above average ability to hit for power. While Safeco Field has essentially made life a living hell for Jaso’s teammates, he has evidently been immune, posting a solid .173 ISO, and an equally solid .449 slugging percentage. Both of those stats are good for highest on the team among qualified players, and seem to be largely driven by his career-high line drive rate. He has the type of swing that looks like it should be generating a lot of line drives and a good amount of lift, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen it do this year.
Will John Jaso’s offensive success continue into 2013 and beyond? To a degree, I believe the answer is probably yes. His BABIP and HR/FB rate are both higher than where they probably should be, at .297 and 13.8% respectively, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the numbers dip a little bit. Aside from that, though, most of what we’re seeing with him appear to be real, and he should certainly be a very nice piece to have going forward. Nothing against Josh Lueke, but the fact that he’s all we had to give up to land a bat like Jaso’s is pretty damn incredible.
The Seattle Mariners are a pretty young team, which is awesome, but sometimes youth can be mistaken for being good, or having a future of being good. There are some veterans that need to go, yes, but there are also young kids on the team that shouldn’t factor in to the Mariners 2013 plans beyond injury depth, if even that. Old players that should obviously not be on next year’s roster–Miguel Olivo, and Chone Figgins, for instance, aren’t going to be listed. So…this is a list of players that fit that description.
RHP Hector Noesi
It’s been a pretty terrible year for Noesi, who has posted a 5.62 FIP thus far. The Mariners have talked about giving him a start or two down the stretch, but I just don’t see the point. He has good stuff, but is clueless about how to use it. I can’t help but see lots of Miguel Batista in him when he pitches. Having great stuff doesn’t matter if you’re just trying to throw it over the plate and hope for the best, which it appears is Noesi’s plan. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher do worse when ahead in the count than Hector Noesi. Nothing will frustrate a fan more than extra base hits in 2-strike counts. Noesi is likely to start 2013 at AAA Tacoma, and unless he shows massive improvement, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mariners converted him back to relief, where his fastball may gain a tick or two, allowing him to get away with some of those centered pitches.
RHP Blake Beavan
Beavan hasn’t been quite as much of a disaster as Noesi, but he certainly hasn’t been good. He’s on pace for about 1 WAR over 200 innings worth of work, which is above replacement, but decidedly below average. Beavan simply can’t strike anybody out: his 4.37 K/9 is fifth-worst in the Major Leagues among pitchers with at least 120 innings pitched. Limiting walks is great, but when everybody can hit the strikes you’re throwing, it doesn’t really matter. Beavan’s young, but what he is now is probably the best he will ever be, and that simply isn’t good enough. If the Mariners are giving Beavan starts in 2013, either something went wrong, or the Mariners are stupider than I thought.
1B Justin Smoak
This one pains me. I was a big Smoak believer, so big that I bought a jersey. Now I fear I will just have a cool hipster teal jersey of a forgotten player, but oh well, whatever, no regrets. Having regrets is silly. Those things are in the past, you can’t change them! Stop regretting things! I bet Smoak regrets a lot of things, like his hitting. His weakness seems to be baseball, at this point. He’s swinging more at pitches out of the zone, and less at pitches in the zone. He’s striking out more than ever. He’s walking less than ever. His power has disappeared. He’s seeing roughly the same selection of pitch types, and he’s just not learning anything. Smoak’s best hope is to rake in Tacoma and get traded to a team that is willing to take a risk on him next season.
1B/OF Mike Carp
I’m going to be honest here. I think Mike Carp has more of a future in the Show than Justin Smoak. While his disappointing .216/.316/.353 line is partially effected by a likely unsustainable .259 BABIP, ZiPS projects him to be a .327 wOBA hitter, that’s simply not good enough for a first baseman or corner outfielder with bad defense. I wouldn’t be as opposed to Carp seeing time in the majors as the other players on this list–but his ultimate role in the big leagues is likely as a late game pinch hitter and backup first baseman. If Mike Carp is starting a significant amount of the time next year, the Mariners failed in the offseason, or three or four guys got hurt.
OF Trayvon Robinson
I’ve gotten lots of shit for “hating” on Trayvon, but I really don’t hate him, I promise! I just don’t think he’s very good. Robinson has done some things to make himself interesting, raising his contact rate from “unacceptable” to “below average”, but it’s just not enough. He makes just too little contact, hits for just too little power, and doesn’t play good enough defense to make up for his offensive shortcomings. He’s very raw, and certainly has enough talent to become a regular some day, but it’s unlikely that he ever puts it all together and becomes that kind of player. Raising his walk rate to 8.3% this year (AL average is 8%) is great, but unless you hit for power, or make a lot of contact–Robinson does neither–that rate is too low, especially when considering his 23.1% strikeout rate. If Robinson makes it, it will probably be as a rangy, light-hitting 4th outfielder that should only see time in the corners.
So there you have it, five players who have received significant playing time in 2012 that definitely should not be given that same opportunity in 2013. On the position player side of things, this just shows you what the Mariners’ offseason shopping list should be, as they don’t really have any in-house replacements that will certainly be better. While I still believe Casper Wells deserves a real, legitimate chance to start in the outfield, clearly the Mariners disagree with me. First base may be filled by Jesus Montero next year, but that’s not something we should count on as fans.
As far as the pitching goes, the Mariners could re-sign Kevin Millwood and Hisashi Iwakuma, and give Beavan’s starts to Erasmo Ramirez while waiting for Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker. It’s not as much of a priority to go searching through free agency or trade options to acquire pitching.
It’s a good thing the Mariners are young. Nobody likes old people, because they are slow, grumpy, and they smell funny, so it’s good to go young. However, different youth, or slightly less youthful players should get the playing time that went to Noesi, Beavan, Smoak, Carp, and Robinson in 2012. If we have to watch them get significant playing time next year, we will all likely be bored and annoyed, so let’s hope that Jack Z and his crew don’t want us to be bored and annoyed!
Hey everybody, remember when I linked you to a live stream of the radio show, I’m doing every Tuesday? Well, here’s the audio from the first episode. We forgot to record the first segment, because we are stupid, but from here on out, I’ll be posting entire shows after each episode. Only one segment is about the Mariners, but if you care about WSU sports, or the Sounders, or the NFL, we talk about those things too. Enjoy! Sports with Brett and Brett
This April, the Mariners made a surprising move when they chose to go with Blake Beavan as one of their five starters over Hisashi Iwakuma, or spring training standout Erasmo Ramirez. Iwakuma was signed on a one-year flyer, and was expected to slot in right behind Jason Vargas. Unfortunately, Eric Wedge stupidly values spring training performances, and due to his unfamiliarity with Iwakuma, he chose the “known” that he had worked with before in Beavan for the rotation.
Choosing something just because it is familiar and “safe” will usually give you something you don’t actually want, and that’s exactly what happened with Beavan. Beavan made ten starts before being sent down to Tacoma, giving up three or more runs in seven of those starts. He had a ridiculously bad 4.56 K/9 to go with his usual stellar low walk rate. Not walking people is a great skill to have, but without the ability to miss a few bats, the contact will likely be of the solid variety, and against Beavan, it definitely was. Beavan was allowing a .794 OPS vs. an American League average of .733. He had a 4.72 ERA. His struggles earned him a trip to Tacoma, where Beavan continued his low-strikeout, low-walk act, producing better results without a better process.
Beavan made his return to the show out of necessity due to injury, as his numbers didn’t warrant a return to the big leagues. Since coming back, it seems like the attitude among casual fans about Beavan is that he’s changed something and is doing well, which to me is baffling, because he has gotten worse. In six of his twelve starts since returning, he’s allowed at least 4 runs. His strikeout rate has gotten worse, dipping to 4.22 K/9. He’s allowed a .797 OPS since returning, and has a 5.25 ERA. That’s really bad! It’s probably even worse than you think it is, because of how rapidly the MLB landscape has changed the last two years. There is a reason good pitchers don’t pitch to contact. It’s because contact is bad, and sometimes will become a hit or even an extra base hit, while whiffs will never become contact. Duh!
Blake Beavan is a bad pitcher. At least, compared to his peers. Compared to you or me, he’s pretty good, but Beavan shouldn’t just accept being better than you or me. Shoot higher, Blake! There’s just no point in continuing to give Blake Beavan starts. In 222.2 career IP, he’s produced 1.1 WAR, a 4.69 FIP, and a 4.17 K/9. He’s barely above replacement, while Erasmo Ramirez has shown flashes that he can be more than that. It’s a matter of three or four starts, yes, but Blake Beavan has shown us exactly what he is: a #6 starter in a league where teams have 5 rotation spots. We don’t know enough about Erasmo Ramirez, we just know he has shown us some flashes of talent beyond Beavan’s, and it would be in the Mariners best interest to give the remainder of Beavan’s starts to him.