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Pitch Counts Pointless

Tom Verducci's article on this week got me thinking about pitcher usage. Verducci argues that current injury rates among MLB pitchers are a symptom of bad pitcher management. His argument convinced me, at least, and my thoughts turned to pitch counts. I like the idea that King Felix can go 120, 130, maybe even 140 pitches (?!) without increasing his injury risk. If injury rates haven't really changed with all the new efforts taken to limit workloads, does data debunk the value of pitch counts?

I found injury data through Driveline's injury database*, and compared that with pitch count data from the 2009 season. I calculated each pitcher's pitches per appearance in 2009, and listed pitchers in order from most to leas pitches thrown per appearance. From there, I looked up pitchers one by one in the injury database. I noted how many days they spent on the DL in 2009, and how many days they spent on the DL in 2010.

*Free, to a degree. I looked up approximately 200 players before I was cut off.

I stratified the pitchers I had into groups of 25. So, the 25 pitchers with the highest average pitch counts were the first group, the next 25 pitchers were the next group, and so on, for a total of 7 groups (175 players). Here are the average pitch counts, and days spent on DL, for each group:

The Aftermath

So, the Mariners lost last night. In one of the most frustrating fashions in which they could have lost, they lost.

Since last night, I can't shake the feeling of disappoint that came over me after Brandon League gave up the narrow one run lead in the 9th.

When I can't shake something from my mind, I write about it. So, here is my attempt to shake my disappointment over last night, the same way an alcoholic might try to make sense of his latest bender the morning after.

Ackley, Seager, and hype

Two weeks into the season it's already clear to me that both Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager should be in the starting lineup regularly. This year is already about next year, and both Ackley and Seager look like two of the better hitters on the roster anyway.

It is convenient to look at Ackley as the crowned jewel among recent M's position prospects. That view was created, and maybe even warranted, when Ackley got picked second overall in the 2009 draft. The hype only escalated when Ackley was rated the M's top hitting prospect by pretty much any national scouting service as he worked his way through the minors. Seager, the M's third round pick from the same draft as Ackley, is hopefully one among the supporting cast.

Assume, at least for the next couple paragraphs, that Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager were both signed off the streets by the Mariners for $250,000. If that's too low of an amount for you, raise it. Would the perception around Ackley, and the prospects around him, be any different if they had entered the organization as perfect equals?

Thoughts on King Felix

Felix Hernandez is getting some serious attention. That's nothing new. What's new are a bunch of murmurs and concerns around him. He just doesn't seem to be the King Felix we adore.

How concerned should we be?

Free Stuff at Safeco This Year

The smell of fresh air with a hint of that signature ballpark hot dog aroma.

The crack of the bat and the subsequent roar of the crowd.

The relief of the seventh inning stretch and every fan singing "Take Me Out to The Ballgame" off key at the top of their lungs.

These are the images that conjur in my mind when I think about seeing the Mariners play at Safeco Field and the reasons that I make sure to attend at least a few games each year. However, given the recent stretch of mediocrity the M's have had, attendance numbers have been dwindling. Oddly enough, as most fans don't enjoy watching their team flail at the plate on their way to a 2-0 loss 80+ times a year.

I know I have had a rough time just listening to the M's on the radio as they've struggled these past few years. But that is no reason to give up on going to the ballpark though. There are still plenty of great reasons to go to a game at Safeco and most don't even involve the Mariners.

The Importance of Baseball in the Pacific Northwest

There are few things to cheer about during winter in the Pacific Northwest: a warm cup of coffee, sunsets over the Olympic mountains, any day it doesn't rain. These are all gifts in their own right, but like many good things, they are fleeting, their effects only a temporary escape from the freezing rain and bitter wind swirling in from the Puget Sound.

And then there’s baseball.

2012 Mariners Minor League Rosters

The Mariners set their opening day roster on Tuesday, which means they also set their minor league rosters. Plenty of good blogs will dig into the MLB roster, but really, opening day already happened. The juicier stuff is in the minors.

I've looked through the minor league rosters, and offer up a batter and pitcher I am interested in at each level (with honorable mentions). I've intentionally highlighted guys that don't grab headlines all the time. I don't have a real firm definition for who counts as a headline-grabbing prospect, but I generally tried to avoid players that pop up on most pre-season top 10 lists. My theory is that there will be plenty of coverage around those guys. The players I've chosen to write about might get overlooked though, and in some ways they are just as important to the vitality of the farm system.

Keep reading past the jump for some names to track in the M's farm system that aren't getting much hype, but might be poised to become a bigger part of the Mariners future:

Podcast II

At long last, the second part of the inaugural Seattle Mariners Musings podcast recording! Allen and I review a few books that hit shelves on March 15, Summer of '68 by Tim Wendel, and Trading Manny by Jim Gullo. Enjoy!

You can also check out Musings podcasts on iTunes, where you are heartily encouraged to subscribe. Thanks to Da Capo Press for sending me advanced copies of both books. They were fun to read, and fun to talk about. I'll happily preview advanced copies of other books too.