Baseball season is right around the corner.
With only 3 weeks until opening day, I find myself more and more looking forward to the 2011 baseball season instead of looking back to the putrid 2010 that was. However, I was reminded yesterday of the ineptitude that ensued at the plate for the ’10 Mariners and feel obligated to relive that experience with the purpose of making at least some sense of the misery.
The 2010 Seattle Mariners will go down in baseball history as one of the least productive offenses of all time. All it took was a quick glance to the offensive rankings (or watching the Mariners at any point last year) to figure that one out. The team ranked dead least of the 30 MLB clubs in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. With regards to former Mariners teams, the 2010 Mariners scored 56 fewer runs than the 1994 Mariners did in a 112 game season, almost a full 2 runs per game less.
Why did a team that had averaged over 650 runs per year from 2008-2009 suddenly drop off so violently? Was the loss of superstars Adrian Beltre and Kenji Johjima just too much for this team to handle? (note the sarcasm)
I look at it as the antithesis of the 2001 Mariners. Instead of every play having a career year, they instead had a career-worst year. Free agent bust 2B Chone Figgins entered the season with a career .736 OPS (around league average), and still managed to have by far the worst full season of his career. Casey Kotchman, the man whom Mariners fans pegged to be the stabilizer at 1B after tumultuous years with Richie Sexson, started off the year with a career high 4 RBI in the season opener but had just 47 more the next 124 games. Hell, even Ichiro had a relative “down year,” recording a career-high in strikeouts and batting 16 points below his career average.
If there’s one thing to take from all of this, it’s that there’s no way the 2011 Seattle Mariners will be as bad on offense as they were the year before. Not every single player is going to have the worst offensive year of the careers. At least, I hope not. Replacing the sparkling 2010 trio of Adam Moore/Rob Johnson/Josh Bard behind the dish will be veteran Miguel Olivo, averaging 21 HR per 162 games. Contrast that to Moore/Johnson/Bard who had just 9 in 160 games last year. Add to that the newly signed DH Jack Cust, an improving 1B Justin Smoak, as well as the revitalization of core players like Guti and Figgins.
It can’t get any worse than last year. Take solace in that.