Yankees vs. Seattle preview

The Yankees start a three game series tonight in Seattle that one month ago seemed like it was going to matter – it does not.  Seattle is five games behind Oakland in the loss column for the second wild card spot and only two ahead of Tampa Bay (Tampa Bay!).

Simply put, Seattle’s W/L record in June when they were in first place, two games ahead of Houston, was not a reflection of them being any good but more indicative of the randomness that makes up a large chunk of baseball (far more than most fans realize). Those ups and downs of baseball have come around to reveal the Mariners for what they are:  A team with interesting individual sub-plots but not a playoff team by any stretch.  Frankly, to most fans they became more interesting when Dee Gordon asked reporters to leave the clubhouse, then moments later, because he was tired of Jean Segura giving him crap, went after Segura, causing Robinson Cano to be the clubhouse fight breaker upper.  (That’s according to MLB trade rumors dot com.)

So here’s what you need to know about the Mariners if you’re planning on staying awake past midnight tonight and tomorrow:

They have scored 580 runs and allowed 627.  Their record is 78-62 (…?)  Again, randomness, luck, fortune, whatever term you like – has a lot more to do with baseball than most fans realize.

They are in the bottom third of the American League in runs scored, but it isn’t because they can’t hit.  They have six players with a 110 OPS+ or better:  Nelson Cruz 146, Mitch Haniger 138, Denard Span 131, Cano 128, Segura 117 and Ben Gamel 110.  The lack of runs can best be attributed to poor base running and playing in one of the hardest, if not the hardest, places in baseball to score runs.

You’re going to see three starting pitchers this weekend:  James Paxton, just returning from a DL stint, Felix Hernandez and Erasmo Ramirez.  Paxton’s traditional numbers have been good, but his actual performance has been better – he’s 4th among AL starters in xFIP.  Hernandez is tied for the worst ERA+ among AL starters with a minimum 147 innings.  Ramirez has only thrown 34 innings this season and has been awful – actually worse than his career 92 ERA+.

Their bullpen isn’t much better.  Except for Edwin Diaz…

When I looked at Diaz’ numbers I literally said “Holy shit.”  He has struck out almost half the batters he’s faced this season.  In fact, among 51 AL relievers with a minimum of 50 IP, he’s first in K%, K%-BB%, xFIP, and weighted runs vs. slider while coming in 2nd in lowest in zone contact percentage and 5th in chase rate.  If you like nasty sliders causing a lot of swings and misses, this is the guy to watch.

And of course, the Yankees will never play against Robinson Cano without me reminding Yankee fans how vastly you underrated him when he was on your team.

I’ve said it before, so no need to completely re-hash, but as a reminder:  Cano is the best 2nd baseman in Yankee history, one of the best 10 position players in Yankee history, and the best 2nd baseman in the major leagues since Joe Morgan.  Please, don’t @ me with Jose Altuve…

In their first eight big league seasons, Cano put up 37.8 WAR, Altuve 34.4.  Since Cano’s first eight seasons, he’s added 30 WAR with a 130 OPS+ over his next six seasons.  When Altuve does that over the next six seasons added to what Cano is going to do over that span as well, come talk to me.

Going to get some Red Bull now, so I can stay up for these damn west coast games…

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