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Smoak's Swing no Smoke Screen?

Justin Smoak is on a roll in September, seemingly out of nowhere. He has performed like the first basemen he teased us fans into imagining he could (or would) be after his strong start last season. I want to believe Smoak's September success is more than a mirage, maybe even proof that his altered swing is working out.

I went and broke down Smoak's batted ball data for each month this season. I noticed his BABIP is easily the highest in September out of all his months, and sometimes BABIP suggests good or bad luck in limited sample sizes. However, based on the batted ball data I present in the following chart, there is much more than luck involved with Smoak's surge:

Comparing Mariners to Contenders

It is that magical time of year where it is hard to think up meaningful posts. The Mariners season is essentially over. They have assured themselves a better record than last year (woohoo) and would have to really fall flat on their face in the last week and a half to stumble past 90 losses. The Mariners, in all likelihood, will have a losing record that is not catastrophically memorable. The tale of their season has been written.

The Mariners just finished up playing the Orioles, a team in playoff contention. Baltimore had gone over a decade since being relevant. A winning record would have been an accomplishment for them, but they have come out of nowhere to legitimately challenge the beasts of the AL East. Could the Mariners pull a similar trick against Texas and Los Angeles of Anaheim (and dare I say Oakland?)

It is clear enough that the Mariners are not good enough to contend as is. How far away are they though? I decided to investigate this question by adding up WAR totals. I looked at American League teams with a better than 50 percent chance of reaching the playoffs and compared their starters to the Mariners. All numbers in the table below are WAR totals. For the Mariners, these are simple sums. For the contenders I calculated WAR totals for each team and then averaged them. All players are sorted by season WAR totals. Below are the results:

Strasburg Should Get More Starts

Stephen Strasburg got shut down for the year. He is the best pitcher on arguably the best team in baseball. A legitimate World Series contender just shut down their ace for the season. It miserably fails the "eye test" as a good decision. Add me to the chorus of silly and unfounded complainers.

I have two overarching issues with how the Nationals handled Strasburg this season, one more deeper and fundamental than the other.

Minor League Recap

The minor league baseball season ended yesterday. Faithful readers might remember a minor league preview that I posted as the season began. I looked at players outside the Mariners top prospect lists that could establish themselves as parts of the Mariners future.

How did these players do? Let's take a look:

Podcast IV

The latest podcast is up for your listening pleasure! Allen and I discuss the Mariners season and talk some about what the offseason might look like:

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