In the ignominious competition for worst team in the American League, two teams have distanced themselves from the AL pack – the Baltimore Orioles (though under new skipper Buck Showalter the O’s have managed to win 6 of their last 10 in a desperate attempt to move to 13th on the AL Power Ranking hierarchy) and the AL West cellar dwelling Seattle Mariners. Judging by their Pythagorean Win Expectation, the Mariners 44-73 affords a 3 game lead over Baltimore, though given Baltimore’s AL East heavy schedule, the race is too close to call.
Seattle, however, is chasing another record. Through 118 games, Seattle has scored 383 runs (3.246 per game). While every metric trumpets Seattle’s ineptitude at the plate, a look at the record book offers a historical perspective on the Mariners hitters. Since the advent of the DH, the fewest runs scored in the AL (excluding strike years) is 532 by the pre-Billy Martin Oakland A’s (Second place is the 1988 Orioles, that started the season with 21 consecutive losses and finished with 550 runs scored).
Extrapolating the Mariners year to date performance over the course of the rest of the season, the Mariners would finish 2010 with 526 runs scored, a new record in the post 1973 era. The Mariners have one player with 100 plate appearances and an OPS above 750 (Russell Branyan). Seattle’s only player with an wOBA above .330 is Ichiro Suzuki (336). Ichiro is also the only regular hitting above .265.
Under normal conditions, the September 1st roster expansion date might hurt offensive production, as the team promotes its most promising youngsters from AAA and allows them to struggle through major league growing pains in an otherwise lost season. In the case of the 2010 Mariners, it is hard to imagine the Rainiers posting worse offensive numbers.