Almost everything went wrong for M's

My friend Bill writes:

    By the way, you've got to love the Mariners' story. The wussy way out is to say, "No one could have seen this coming!" 513 runs and a 79 OPS+. That's like a team of Bud Harrelsons.And better yet, there is really little hope in the near future. They have little money to spend. They have a few hitting prospects, but none of them are going to be star hitters for a few years if ever. Their pitching really isn't that good either other than Felix. With Felix and Ichiro, this would be the 1960s Mets minus the funny stories.

To which our friend Hank responds:

    Yeah, we knew they'd rank in the bottom third or quartile of the AL in run scoring -- but 513 runs is out at the 3-sigma level of badness. Basically, every hitter except Ichiro! performed far below what could've been expected.C: Rob Johnson / Adam Moore -- Yeah, we knew they weren't going to be good ... but a combined OPS+ of 53?

    1B: Casey Kotchman -- Far from a sure thing, but age 27 season, career OPS+ of 94. His 2010 OPS+? 73

    2B: Chone Figgins -- Coming off a career year, yes, but career OPS+ of 100. His 2010 OPS+? 84

    SS: Wilsons -- We knew they were going to suck and they did.

    3B: Jose Lopez -- In both 2008 and 2009, his OPS+ was 103. His 2010 OPS+? 71

    LF: Milton Bradley -- Sure, we knew he'd miss 50 games, but his career OPS+ was 115. His 2010 OPS+? 80

    CF: Franklin Gutierrez -- Age 27 season; career OPS+ of 96. His 2010 OPS+? 87

    DH: Ken Griffey -- Talk about having nothing left in the tank ...

    Seriously, nobody with any statistical acumen could have predicted it would be this bad.

That's right.

Some of the expectations for this team were wildly overblown. But they should have won something like 81 games, not 61. Even without Cliff Lee for half the season, they should have won at least 75 games.

Even Ichiro ... I mean, it actually wasn't his worst season as a Mariner. His numbers were even worse just two years ago, and he did play 162 games and (not coincidentally) lead the league with 214 hits. But it wasn't a good season, by his standards.

Essentially, none of the regulars played as well as they were supposed to. The bench was a black hole where runs went to die. Russell Branyan did some things in the second half, after being acquired from the Indians after the Mariners showed little interest in retaining him after last season, when he was their only productive power hitter.

It was just one of those weird seasons. Call it a Murphy's Season. They don't happen often, but they do happen to somebody every year or two.*

* That term, which I just invented and you can use it if you want, is obviously an exaggeration. It's impossible for everything to go wrong for a baseball team, because there are too many things. Felix Hernandez did pitch brilliantly, and Cliff Lee was amazing while he was around, and ... well, that's just about it. Close enough.

The Mariners won 88 games in 2007, lost 101 in 2008, won 85 in 2009, and (again!) lost 101 in 2010. They've been particularly schizophrenic for four seasons, and I certainly don't expect them to win 86.5 games in 2011. But they will bounce back next season, because their luck simply has to turn around. Some.