It has been a HORRIBLE first half of the month for the Seattle Mariners in every possible way, shape and form. We don’t even want to get into the off-the-field issues regarding Ken Griffey Jr. and Milton Bradley. We’re focusing on that which has gone on between the lines.
A lot of statistically-inclined folks pointed to the Mariners win-loss record and negative run differential last season and said “They can’t possibly duplicate this kind of magic in 2010. All those improbable victories won’t repeat themselves.”
It’s amazing how everything DOES eventually tend to even out in time. The Mariners have gone from the extreme of winning games they should have lost, to losing games they should have won, on a regular basis.
We can use the Win Probability Added data provided by Tom Tango on Baseball Reference and Fangraphs to pinpoint how everything that could go wrong for the Mariners has. Through the first 16 days this month, the Mariners have lost six games in which the average team had a history of winning at least 70 percent of the time. The primary culprits have been the bullpen, and a failure by the offense to tack on insurance runs when they're sorely needed.
May 2- Mariners bullpen fails to hold 1-0 lead in ninth inning for Doug Fister. Rangers tie in ninth, score two in 11th to win.
Mariners win probability maxed out at: 91 percent when they led 1-0 with two on and nobody out in the eighth inning. A line drive double play killed any chance to add on, and nothing good happened for Seattle the rest of the way.
May 5- The Mariners fail to hold a 2-0 lead against Tampa Bay with Cliff Lee on the mound. Lee yields five runs and the Rays rally to win, 8-2.
Mariners win probability maxed out at: 80 percent after a Ken Griffey Jr. double with Seattle up 2-0 and one out in the bottom of the fourth. Griffey was left standed, and the Rays supplied almost all of the offense the rest of the way.
May 8- Mariners leave bases loaded in bottom ninth inning with chance to win, lose in extra-innings vs Angels.
Mariners win probability maxed out at: 71 percent after a leadoff walk with the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, but the Mariners were unable to convert on that opportunity.
May 13- Mariners blow 5-1 lead in 8th inning vs Orioles. Luke Scott puts Orioles up with grand slam. Mariners have tying run thrown out at plate to end game.
Mariners win probability maxed out at: 96 percent after Felix Hernandez got the final out of the seventh inning, and then left up 5-1.
May 15- Mariners blow 2-0 lead in 8th inning. Rays tie with two runs in eighth, win on walk-off home run in 9th by Willy Aybar
Mariners win probability maxed out at: 88 percent, when they led 2-0 with two men on and one out in the top of the the eighth inning. Chone Figgins hit into a double play, and it all fell apart from there.
May 16- Cliff Lee leads 1-0 in 7th inning but can't hold it. Rays score once in seventh and eighth to win.
Mariners win probability maxed out at: 73 percent, after Michael Saunders’ single gave them a 1-0 lead, and two men on with nobody out in the fifth inning. The Mariners failed to score in that spot, and it cost them when the Rays struck in key spots in the last two innings of the game.
The Mariners stand at 14-23 after these latest two defeats (4-9 in one-run games). But imagine how differently we’d look at them if they’d won. We’d probably look at them like we looked at the 2009 version.