Breaking down the Mariners by the numbers
Safeco's new dimensions yield more homers; Felix, Iwakuma join historic ranks
SEATTLE -- Before we put the 2013 Mariners season completely to rest, a few interesting numbers to ponder:
• After moving the fences in at Safeco Field this past season, the Mariners hit 88 home runs in 81 home games, with a .239/.307/.387 slash line and 310 runs scored. That was 32 more homers and 53 more runs than they totaled at Safeco in 2012, when they posted a .220/.291/.331 slash.
The 88 long balls were the most the Mariners have hit at Safeco since totaling 92 in 2000, the first full year of the park's existence. But this was a power-hitting club on the road, as well, as Seattle totaled 100 home runs and .235/.304/.392 with 314 runs in 81 away games, with the 100 homers the most for a Mariners team on the road since their 106 in 2000.
Opposing teams also hit better at Safeco this year, as the Mariners gave up 82 home runs compared to 60 the year before. Seattle's pitchers posted a 4.17 home ERA with an opponent's batting average of .254, a huge jump from the prior year's 2.96 and .229.
But again, that wasn't just a Safeco Field issue, as Seattle's pitching was even poorer on the road, with an ERA of 4.47 and 92 home runs allowed.
Bottom line, moving in the fences clearly had an impact, but just how much is hard to measure yet, as the Mariners also added more power to their lineup at the same time and struggled with their pitching both home and away. It may take several years to truly gauge how much of a difference the shorter fences make in the average number of home runs and runs being tallied at Safeco.
• Felix Hernandez racked up 216 strikeouts, his fifth straight season with 200-plus K's. Hernandez has notched at least 165 strikeouts in all eight of his full Major Leagues seasons. The only other pitchers in Major League history to have 150-plus strikeouts in their first eight seasons by age 27 are Bert Blyleven (1971-78) and Walter Johnson (1908-15), both Hall of Famers.
• Hisashi Iwakuma's WHIP of 1.006 was the lowest In franchise history. The previous low was 1.045 by Randy Johnson in 1995, when he won his first Cy Young Award. Johnson also had a 1.052 WHIP in 1997 when he went 20-4 and finished second in the Cy Young voting, while Hernandez's lowest full-season WHIP was 1.057 in his Cy Young season of 2010.
• On the flip side of the pitching spectrum, Mariners lefty Joe Saunders had the highest opponent's batting average of any starting pitcher in the Majors this season, at .311. The next-highest figure of any qualified starter in the big leagues was .297 by Minnesota's Kevin Correia.
For perspective, Aaron Harang, released late in the season, had an opponent's average of .274. Jeremy Bonderman, who lasted just seven starts, had a .267 figure.
Despite his trouble keeping runners off base, the Mariners stuck with Saunders for the full season and he finished with the third-most losses in the Majors at 16, trailing only the 18 of the Cubs' Edwin Jackson and the 17 of the Astros' Lucas Harrell.
Saunders allowed the second-most hits of any MLB starter behind Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie, who gave up 236 hits, compared to Saunders' 232. Guthrie threw 28 2/3 more innings, however.
• The perception is that Kyle Seager had a big year offensively while Dustin Ackley struggled, but the two actually wound up pretty close in batting average. Seager indeed was hitting .300 on Aug. 2 when Ackley was at .213. But over his last 53 games, Seager hit just .174, as his average dropped to .260. Ackley batted .319 after Aug. 2 and finished the year at .253.
Seager hit .293 prior to the All-Star break, but just .212 after the break. Ackley hit .205 before the break, but a team-leading .304 the rest of the way.
Batting averages aren't the tell-all statistic, however, and Seager had a clear advantage in other areas. Seager posted a .426 slugging percentage compared to Ackley's .341, as well as 22 home runs and 69 RBIs in 160 games, while Ackley totaled four homers and 31 RBIs in 113 games after spending part of the year in Triple-A Tacoma.
• The Mariners wound up with just 49 stolen bases, which ranked 28th out of 30 Major League teams. The previous record-low for a Seattle club in a 162-game season was 81 in 1989 and 2007, though the '94 club only stole 48 bases in a strike-shortened 112-game season.
• Danny Farquhar's 16 saves were easily the most by any rookie in the Majors this year. The next-closest rookie saves total was five from Houston's Josh Fields, the former Mariners' first-round Draft choice who was a Rule 5 Draft survivor with the Astros this season.
• The future seems bright for the Mariners catching position with the arrival of Mike Zunino, but the present wasn't too impressive offensively for Seattle's backstops, who as a group hit .195 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs, a huge drop from the .278 with 26 home runs and 82 RBIs achieved in 2012 when Miguel Olivo, John Jaso and Jesus Montero divvied most of the duties.
Veteran Henry Blanco was brought in for his veteran mentorship with Zunino, but his bat wasn't much help, as he went 1-for-his-last-33 and finished at .142 on the season.
• Producing with runners in scoring position was a problem for the Mariners, who hit .228 in that situation, ranking 28th of the 30 MLB teams. But that shouldn't be too surprising since Seattle ranked 28th in the Majors in overall batting average, as well, at .237.
The best hitter with RISP for Seattle was Kendrys Morales, who batted .312 in that situation. Next closest was Ackley, at .276, and Raul Ibanez, at .269.
• The Mariners' bullpen struggled with a 4.58 ERA, the second-worst mark in the Majors (ahead of only the Astros' 4.92). But Seattle clearly has some outstanding power arms in the 'pen, as they led the Majors with 535 strikeouts and ranked second with 9.53 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, both club records.
In fact, the 535 strikeouts tied an American League record with the 2012 Royals. Farquhar (fourth at 12.77), Oliver Perez (sixth at 12.57) and Charlie Furbush (14th at 11.08) ranked in the top 15 in the AL for relievers' strikeouts-per-nine innings.