Seattle Mariner’s Offense Is Still Historically Bad

Ichiro Suzuki was the main attraction in the Seattle Mariners‘ 5-1 loss to the Hanshin Tigers in an exhibition game at the Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

What the…? One friggin’ run, Seattle? One?

I know. I know. It’s a spring training exhibition game. Versus a JPL team.

But..

It has been well chronicled that the Seattle Mariners offense for the last few years hasn’t just been bad, it’s been historically bad. Like the kind of bad that makes grown men in the greater Seattle area lose sleep at night, wondering “how could this be possible?” sorta bad.

Last year they became the first team since the mound was lowered to post back-to-back sub-.300 OBP seasons as a team and hit a mere 109 HRs.

To put this further in persepective, The Phillies‘ much ballyhooed & insanely deep rotation limited its opponents to an OPS of .642. The Seattle Mariners’ OPS was .640. A year ago, the Mariners’ OPS was .637.

Yes, on your average day versus your average league pitcher the Mariners offense was so pathetic it was like they were facing Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and/or Cole Hamels.

As Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing put it, talk about downright offensive:

We know that the Mariners’ offense was bad. We lived through that offense. These offenses. It did not and could not escape daily notice. And there are a lot of ways, countless ways, to express just how bad it was in both 2010 and 2011. But this way might be my favorite I’ve seen yet.

True, the Mariners’ numbers were hurt by having to spend half the games in Safeco Field. If you adjust for park, their OPS figures should be a little higher. But then, the Phillies got to face NL teams and NL lineups with pitchers in, so if you want to account for that, it kind of balances out.

Look at it like this and the inconceivable is revealed as truth. For two years in a row now, the Seattle Mariners have hit about as poorly as teams hit against the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies’ starting rotation. The Phillies’ starting rotation that ranked among the best ever built. When people would joke that the Mariners could make any opposing starter look like a Cy Young winner, they weren’t wrong. On average, that’s basically what they’ve done for two straight seasons.

There are other comparisons you could choose to make, of course. How about Randy Johnson? Over Randy Johnson’s career, which admittedly took place in a different era, opposing batters posted a .650 OPS. That’s higher than what the Mariners have done.

So it probably should not come as any surprise that they could only muster a single run, one they could only manage to score in the ninth inning with the game hopelessly lost.

Suzuki, who went 1 for 4, drew huge cheers from the crowd of 42,139 when he hit a single down the left field line in the top of the first inning.

“I felt a lot of tension so that was quite a moment,” Suzuki said of his hit in the first inning. “It didn’t feel like an exhibition game and there was a different atmosphere.”

Suzuki grounded out in his next three at-bats, but the near-capacity crowd on hand didn’t seem to mind.

“Ichiro has been on a different level for all these years and when you saw those flashbulbs going off when he came up to bat in the first inning that says it all,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.

The Mariners are in Japan to open the season against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hanshin scored three runs in the bottom of the second. Takahiro Arai scored from third on an infield single by former Mariner Kenji Jojima and Tomoaki Kanemoto hit a two-run homer to right off Seattle starter Hector Noesi, who took the loss after giving up three runs and six hits in five innings.

The Tigers added two runs in the seventh on Kohei Shibata’s double to center and a Takashi Toritani single to left.

Seattle’s run came in the ninth inning on a home run by Casper Wells.

The Mariners had a chance to score in the top of the eighth when Munenori Kawasaki led off with a double and advanced to third on a Suzuki grounder to second, but Alex Liddi popped out and Jesus Montero struck out to end the inning.

Wedge said he continues to be impressed by Kawasaki.

“Mune has been fantastic for us all spring,” Wedge said. “He had to compete to be on the ballclub and he has done what he needed to do. He brings a lot more to the team than what he does on the field.”

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