Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jones and GS52 come to town

While it was painful to see 5 players shipped away to Baltimore for a brittle pitcher, that ship has sailed and I look forward to seeing these guys play, especially Jones. I wish him all the best, and certainly am not rooting against him (except when he plays the Mariners of course).

A casual fan might look at Jones .649 OPS and wonder what all the fuss was about. But of course that would be a foolish mistake. Just as McLaren isn't going to yank Vidro from the lineup based on this years stats, the Orioles aren't about to bench Jones on 62 at bats. It's the definition of small sample size.

Some people like to make a correlation between the start of a baseball players careers in the majors and his chance at stardom. They feel if he comes out and has a great start, then certainly that proves he has the "mental toughness" to make it in the majors. This is one of those quickly thought out theories that anyone can make up as they sound reasonable at first, but the reality is the numbers show it has no merit. (The people who believe in this are the same fans who argue Wlad is really better than Jones, based on what the two did during irregular playing time last year in the bigs.)

A quick look at the Mariners is all you need to do to disprove the importance of a fast start and the guarantee of major league success. Most would agree Alex will finish his career as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Look at his numbers his first year and tell me if it was a mistake to continue to play him.

Conversely, our own lovable Willie Bloomquist is at the other end of the spectrum. Started out hot during his audition late in the year and but up some impressive numbers. Much better than anything he'd done in the minors at that point. Since then? He's proven to be one of the worst hitters in baseball when given half a season to play. There's a reason Bloomquist doesn't start many games any more for the Mariners.

No one can really explain why some hitters start out hot, then cool off. Or others start slow, and then finally show their potential. For every example of a touted rookie who starts off hitting the world on fire then slumping (usually blamed on fatigue) there is a twin who started the opposite. It is too easy to cherry pick numbers based on 62 at bats, so I caution anyone to not read too much into it because it's more complex then simply rookie vs veteran some make it out to be.