BY Steve Rudman 11:00AM 05/20/2011

Six Pack: Lousy in left field

Bad as has been the Mariners’ output from left field historically, the last three seasons of ineptitude have been lower than whale droppings.

Ryan Langerhans hit .173 before the Mariners designated him for assignment. / Ben Van Houten, Mariners

During Ken Griffey Jr.’s heyday with the Mariners (mid-to-late 1990s), a lament always existed about the black hole the club had in left field. Lists of these largely ineffective laggers were compiled and commented derisively upon on as the Mariners trotted out the likes of Jeffrey Leonard, Greg Briley, Kevin Mitchell, Eric Anthony, and on and on.

Turns out, the men who played left field while Griffey roamed center, were practically Hall of Fame hitters compared to this year’s group. And last year’s group. And the 2009 group before that.

When you watch this season’s already-revolving door in left, you are witnessing the worst- hitting group of left fielders in franchise history, ranked by collective batting average.

Milton Bradley hit .218 before the Mariners cashiered him. Ryan Langerhans hit .173 before the Mariners disposed of him. As a group, Seattle’s 2011 left fielders are batting a combined .182 — 36 points below Seattle’s 2010 left fielders, the second-worst group of left fielders in franchise history.

Seattle’s six lousiest groups of left fielders, according to combined batting average:

  • T5

    1994, .240 (49-63): Seattle used six players in left, Eric Anthony receiving the most starts (62). But since Anthony hit just .237, the Mariners threw Keith Mitchell and Brian Turang into the mix. Mitchell hit .265 in 27 games (not bad), but Turang negated that by batting .167 in 20 games.
  • T5

    1984, .240 (74-88): The Mariners trotted out nine left fielders in 1984, principally Barry Bonnell (70 games), Steve Henderson (52), Phil Bradley (48) and Gorman Thomas (34). Bonnell and Henderson hit respectably, .289 and .277, respectively, but Bradley batted .228 and Thomas .160.
  • 4

    1993, .224 (82-80): Mike Felder, who hit .220, received the most games in left, but the following also got time, much to everyone’s dismay: Greg Litton (.292, 11 games), Dann Howitt (.256, 16 games), Mackey Sasser (.202, 26 games), Henry Cotto (.204, 23 games) and Marc Newfield (.111, 5 games). Howitt provided one of the season’s top highlights, a grand slam off Nolan Ryan on Sept. 22 in the Kingdome.
  • 3

    2009, .219 (85-77): Three of the Mariners’ 2009 left fielders, Wladimir Balentine (.227), Endy Chavez (.273) and Ryan Langerhans (.205), are already out of baseball. Bill Hall, currently batting .230, is barely hanging on in Houston. Seattle’s fifth 2009 outfielder, Michael Saunders (.217) is barely hanging on with this year’s Mariners.
  • 2

    2010, .218 (61-101): Led by Milton Bradley (.244 in 73 games), four players received the majority of games in left. By far the most intriguing: Eric Byrnes, who once failed to swing on a squeeze play and soon thereafter found himself playing in a Carlifornia beer league.
  • 1

    2011, .182: Behold a group en route to becoming the worst (batting) collection of left fielders in franchise history. Two, Milton Bradley (.218) and Ryan Langerhans (.173) are already highway. What’s left will never lift a Cooperstown eyebrow: Carlos Peguero (.156), Michael Saunders (.178), Mike Wilson (.091).

The best batting year for Seattle’s left fielders was 1985, when the unit, led by Phil Bradley and Ivan Calderon, combined to hit .313.


YourThoughts

  • M’sin2012

    To evaluate players only by batting average is the most short-sighted analysis I have seen in awhile. I would strongly suggest looking at OBP, slugging and WAR before simply stating 2011 is the worst ever. Though I don’t disagree – the performance over the years in LF has been a consistent problem from the Mariners.

  • ace31

     Endy Chavez is not out o f baseball – playig for the Rangers

  • Michael Kaiserr

    You could start another whole new publication to address Mariners’ issues like this.

  • Michael Kaiserr

    You could start another whole new publication to address Mariners’ issues like this.

  • jafabian

    A stock photo?  I say this because this photo has Millwood in his white home uniform and the M’s had their teal jerseys on.

    I was thinking at some point Millwood would give up a hit and when he went out I thought they’d have a shot at a combined no-hitter, especially with Kemp not playing for the Dodgers.

    And to think this club had a perfect game thrown against them not too long ago!  Whatta cofidence booster for them.  Especially for Montero when his skills behind the plate have been called into question.

    • Artthiel

       Being a no-hit perp as well as victim in the same season is freaky. You nailed the best hidden gem of the evening: Montero didn’t screw it up.

      And yes the photo was from earlier in the year. That’s while it says “file” in the credit line.

  • RadioGuy

    Great to see a no-hitter (is this the most pitchers to ever combine for one in MLB?) and credit is due to Millwood for setting it up as well as the young bullpen coming through under pressure over the last three innings.  But let’s look at how that lone run was scored:

    Ichiro essentially manufactured the lone run of the game in the seventh by running out a two-out infield grounder and then stealing second before taking two bases on Seager’s dink to left, but that got buried in a short paragraph late in the story.  If Ichiro doesn’t do what he did, they might’ve played until curfew and carried the game over to this afternoon.  He’s not worth what they’re paying him now, but nobody else on the Seattle roster could’ve done what Ichiro did except MAYBE Saunders.

    If they move in the fences during the offseason, so be it.  I like watching home runs, too, as long as we’re the ones hitting them.  I love games where every pitch means something, too.  Last night we had a classic example of that in beating a franchise that won eight pennants and four World Series between 1963, all while playing home games in a ballpark built for pitchers and never having a HR champion in that timespan.  It’s not so much about the ballpark itself as it is building a team that can take advantage of the ballpark.

    • Artthiel

       Just as the Yankees have built three stadiums with a short right-field porch, then loaded their lineup with a century of left handed stick, you can make a team to fit your park. The problem is that when you build to suit pitching, you make happy at least one guy, and up to six as we saw last night, while depressing nine others. Safeco has gotten into these guys’ heads.because it’s so one-sided. The 2001 output was so anomalous that it’s skewing judgment over a much greater sample size. And it was in the steroid era.

      • Joe Fan

        I would argue that our right field (thought perhaps not the alley), is built for left handed hitting.

  • Artthiel

     And against the Dodgers, who just swept the Phillies. Nice to see another team get screwed by cross country travel.

  • Joe Fan

    I think we need to move the fences in Art so these poor visiting teams can hit better!

  • Artthiel

     How about just beyond the infield dirt. Fun for everyone, even Chone Figgins!