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Dr. Strange Runs (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Mariners' Offense)

Well, wasn't this an odd series for the Mariners... but what does it mean?

The Mariners outscored the best offense in baseball 33 runs to 15 and won the series 2-1. Now, I knew the M's were bound to score runs at some point, but I doubt anyone expected to see something like this out of this team. I mean, have you seen this lineup? Seriously, look at this lineup, this a miracle.

Podcast III

It's been almost two months, but we have a new podcast! Allen and I talk performances of some different Mariners, and a few prospects making noise in the minor leagues:

You can also check out Musings podcasts on iTunes, where you are heartily encouraged to subscribe.

Fortnight Over

The silence has been deafening. We went a fortnight between posts at the Musings. There is activity behind the scenes. Free time has been sparse with my work schedule this month, and what free time I've had has been sunk into draft prep.

It's time for a post of some sort though. Let's talk about the state of the Mariners roster. The series against the Rockies and Rangers were largely awesome. The current series against the Angels has been a bust so far. This team is up and down, which is hard to watch at times, but I'll gladly take it over the down and really down we've dealt with the past couple seasons. Still, are there any major roster inefficiencies at this point? Here are my takes:

Progress Report: Hitters

Here's part two in my series of grading player performances based on their performances so far. If you want to read part one on the pitching staff, go here. I will note that these grades are mostly based on the players' hitting performance, rather than defense, or fashion sense.The rest of the grades are arbitrarily determined and whatever I felt like giving them. Enjoy!

Where Did Pujols Go?

Above is Albert Pujols's first (and, to date, only) home run as an Angel. It shouldn't be too big of a deal, but it is because it came on May 6. Really, it's not that big of a deal that Pujols hit a home run on May 6. The big deal is that Pujols did not hit a home run before May 6.

I was on Twitter last week*, and Kevin Goldstein posted a simple thought: Has anyone tried to figure out what's wrong with Albert Pujols?

*Actually I'm on Twitter all the time, and that included last week.

I'm not sure anyone has. So, I'm about to fix that.

Sinking League

This one's for Allen. He hasn't enjoyed Brandon League's recent inability to save one-run ballgames.* Allen asked me what's wrong with League, and I said nothing. We went back and forth for a bit, and I steadfastly stuck to my initial statement. However, I have to admit that I haven't seen League pitch much this season (I follow on the radio for the most part), and I didn't have any numbers in front of me as Allen and I texted back and forth.

*I haven't either, for the record.

I've looked at the numbers. Brandon League is different, but he's still Brandon League. The only thing that might be wrong is League's pitch selection, but that's nothing new.

Sample size is a significant issue with early season reliever data, but that's only if we are worried with predictions. Data helps us paint an exact picture of what's already happened, and that's at the heart of what Allen asked anyway. So, let's look at the numbers so far.

There are concerns in Brandon League's 2012 performance. Through 14 innings, his K/9 is 5.14, which would easily be a career low. His BB/9 is 3.86, which would be about a walk per 9 innings above his career average. League's ground ball rate is currently at 48.8%, and if that holds, it would be the first time he posts a rate below 50%. These are all troubling numbers.

However, League has counteracted the issues with some good fortune (or a newfound skill?) He has stranded 77.8% of baserunners so far, which is a rate 10% better than what we've seen out of him his past couple seasons as a Mariners. Also, with more fly balls, League should be more susceptible to home runs. However, he is yet to give up one!

The pros and cons of Brandon League's 2012 performance have roughly balanced each other. His ERA is at 2.57, which would be his lowest ERA as a Mariners, if it holds. The numbers suggest that Brandon League has been a bit more of a heart attack this season, but ultimately as effective.

The stranded runners and lazy fly balls won't last forever though. League has some concerns. The issues are connected, and hopefully can be fixed.

Progress Report: Pitchers

Congratulations to you for making it through a month and a half of Mariners' baseball! If you're reading this, you haven't completely given up on the M's this year (yet). You also haven't gouged your eyes out from watching this team throughout the roller coaster ride it has been since they opened the year in Japan back in March. Since then, we have seen winning and losing streaks, blown saves, and the Athletics. Boy, have we seen alot of Athletics baseball. In fact, Mariners fans have probably been to more Athletics games than Athletics fans have this year (Zing!).

Since we've been through more than a month of baseball this year, I think it's time for a progress report. Remember back when you got progress reports in school? Remember when you would try to check the mail before your parents did so that way they never knew about that 'F' you got in Home Economics? Well, this is nothing like that. This is just me throwing out grades which I feel approximate how well the players have done so far and are in no way scientific. Simply put, these are my opinions. Feel free to disagree in the comments, I love a good argument.

For part one of this series, I'll focus on the pitching staff.

MLB Influence - April 2012

Last year I rolled out an MLB Influence infographic every month, in place of projected standings. This year, I'm more or less doing the same thing, with an added piece of data.

FanGraphs and Sports Illustrated have teamed up for MLB power rankings this season. The rankings are based on team WAR totals. I've now added this to the Cool Standings data, and search traffic data from Google Insights. I've also tried to make the graphic a little more interactive by sharing it on Google Docs. The result? It's below:

Rivera Done

Mariano Rivera tore his ACL. It's hard to comprehend. His season is over. His career is finished as well, unless he reconsiders retirement. Everything I'd really like to say is captured in this wonderful video that the New York Times made a few years ago. Seriously, this is all you ever need to know about what made Mariano Rivera the greatest closer of all time, in only 2 minutes and 41 seconds:

Enjoy. Actually, maybe a better word is savor.