BY SPNW Staff 11:58AM 04/23/2012

Now Playing: Your 2012 Seattle ‘Mendozas’

The season is only 17 games old, but the Mariners are putting up epically bad batting numbers as they head to Detroit for a three-game series.

Ichiro is Seattle's leading batter with a .275 average. Two other regulars, catcher Miguel Olivo (.154) and shortstop Brendan Ryan (.190) are hitting less than .200. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

In 2008, Art Thiel and Steve Rudman of Sportspress Northwest, in collaboration with KJR’s Mike Gastineau, published the Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists. The entries included “The Dirtiest Dozen: Seattle’s Worst Teams,” and three editions of the Mariners found their way on it, the 1983 club at No. 8, the 1978 team at No. 7, and the 2008 ragtags at the dubious No. 1.

The 1983 Mariners (63-102) scored 100 fewer runs than any club in the majors that year and featured three pitchers with at least 15 losses. The 1978 Mariners (56-104), who attracted one customer to every 10 seats in the Kingdome as shortstop Mario Mendoza created the “Mendoza Line,” led the majors in times shut out (15), lost 36 times by five or more runs, and were outscored by 220 runs over 162 games.

The 2008 Mariners (62-101) achieved the No. 1 “Dirtiest Dozen” ranking in part because of anemic hitting and bloated ERAs by the starters, but primarily for this reason: they were the first in major league history to lose 100 games with a $100 million payroll (actually $120 million).

While the 2012 season presents a small sample size — just 17 games — it’s almost always the case that trends established in April hold for the season. If that’s the case this year, we are witnessing the worst kind of history in the making.

The 1983, 1978 and 2008 Mariners hit .240, .248 and.265, respectively. The 2012 Mariners, in Detroit for a three-game series that starts Tuesday night, are batting .223.

The 1983, 1978 and 2008 Mariners had on-base percentages of .301, .314 and .318, respectively. The 2012 Mariners, “perfectoed” Saturday by journeyman Philip Humber, check in at .274.

The 1983, 1978 and 2008 Mariners had OPS numbers (on-base plus slugging) of .661, .673 and .707, respectively. The 2012 Mariners, losers of their last three, are at .616.

This year’s Mariners are batting .234 with runners in scoring position (2-for-13 Sunday). Among the 1978, 1983 and 2008 clubs, only the 1983 edition was worse, at .229.

The 1962 New York Mets (40-120) are generally regarded as the modern era’s worst team for a single season. Those Mets, though, batted .240 to Seattle’s .223 and had an OPS of .679 to the Mariners’ current .616.

The 2003 Detroit Tigers, who went 43-119 under Alan Trammell, had a .240 team batting average to Seattle’s current .223 and an OPS of .675 t0 Seattle’s .616. The 111-loss Arizona Diamondbacks of 2004 hit 30 points higher (.253) than these Mariners are hitting (.223).

Go way back in baseball antiquity to 1899. The worst major league team that year, and maybe in all of history, played as the Cleveland Spiders. A National League club, the Spiders went 20-134. Like the 2004 D-Backs, the Spiders also hit 30 points higher (.253) than these Mariners (.223).

But thank goodness for this: the 2012 Mariners have a better OPS — .616 — than the 1899 Spiders, .605.

Since 2000, 17 major league teams have lost 100 or more games, including the Mariners twice (2008, 2010). Would you be surprised to learn that the 2012 Mariners currently sport a batting average worse than any of the 17? Or that their on-base percentage is worse than any of the 17?

The 2012 Mariners would also have a lousier slugging percentage than any of the 17, but Don Wakamatsu’s 2010 Mariners trump them at .339, a few points worse than the .342 mark by these Mariners.

The following chart compares the 2012 Mariners to the 17 from 2000 that lost 100 or more games. Draw your own conclusion.

Year Team Manager W-L BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 Mariners Eric Wedge 7-10 .223 .274 .342 .616
2010 Mariners Don Wakamatsu 61-101 .236 .298 .339 .637
2003 Tigers Alan Trammell 43-119 .240 .300 .375 .675
2010 Pirates John Russell 57-105 .242 .304 .373 .678
2002 Tigers Phil Garner 55-106 .248 .300 .379 .679
2008 Nationals Manny Acta 59-102 .251 .323 .373 .696
2004 D-Backs Bob Brenley 51-111 .253 .310 .393 .703
2002 Rays Hal McRae 55-106 .253 .314 .390 .704
2001 Pirates Lloyd McClendon 62-100 .247 .313 .393 .706
2001 Rays Larry Rothschild 62-100 .258 .320 .388 .707
2008 Mariners John McLaren 61-101 .265 .318 .389 .707
2002 Brewers Davey Lopes 56-106 .253 .320 .390 .711
2005 Royals Tony Pena 56-106 .263 .320 .396 .716
2004 Royals Tony Pena 58-104 .259 .322 .397 .720
2006 Rays Joe Maddon 61-101 .255 .314 .420 .733
2006 Royals Buddy Bell 62-100 .271 .332 .411 .743
2009 Nationals Manny Acta 59-103 .258 .337 .406 .743

YourThoughts

  • Grover

    Don’t you think you should wait until at least the end of April before you start doing this?  With so few games played so far, one or two good-hitting games could change those numbers dramatically.  And the starters the M’s are facing in Detroit all have high ERA’s and Detroit is not a big ballpark.

    • Roger

      While I agree that it is early and we are still close to .500 (which is sadly considered a success for this team), it’s the fact that most of our wins are against the A’s, and not against a team that isn’t competing for 3rd place in a 4-team division.

  • Grover

    Don’t you think you should wait until at least the end of April before you start doing this?  With so few games played so far, one or two good-hitting games could change those numbers dramatically.  And the starters the M’s are facing in Detroit all have high ERA’s and Detroit is not a big ballpark.

    • Roger

      While I agree that it is early and we are still close to .500 (which is sadly considered a success for this team), it’s the fact that most of our wins are against the A’s, and not against a team that isn’t competing for 3rd place in a 4-team division.

  • Tian Biao

    “You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘can’t anybody here play this game?” – Casey Stengel

  • Tian Biao

    “You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘can’t anybody here play this game?” – Casey Stengel