BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 07/16/2015

Your 2015 Mariners don’t hit when it counts

With a half-season to go, the Mariners are the worst team in 46 years hitting with runners in scoring position. With any kind of bad luck at all, they can become the worst in MLB history.

A flailing Dustin Ackley is hitting .116 with runners in scoring position. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Following the Mariners’ 10-3 loss Sunday to the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field, Lloyd McClendon characterized the game as “the worst we’ve played all year,” adding, “I can’t imagine a better time for the All-Star break.” McClendon could have also chipped in another obvious thought — that the club’s fan base needed a break from the Mariners as much as the team needed one from baseball.

The beleaguered souls who unwisely invested their emotional dollars in the Mariners witnessed something damn close to historic in a first half that thudded to a 41-48 close, representing a 7.5-game deficit in the AL West. We’ll get to the near-historic part in a bit.

The Mariners lost 14 series in the first half, posting a 2-12 record in the final games. Had they won a just a handful of series-enders, those preseason playoff predictions that now look so dumb would still look good.

The Mariners also lost 27 times in the first half in games decided by two or fewer runs. Had they won only a third of them, they would be in playoff contention instead of a half-game out of last place in the wild card standings. The Mariners certainly had their chances, illustrated best by these seven:

  • April 26 (4-2 to Minnesota at Safeco Field): Went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.
  • May 5 (5-4 to Angels at Anaheim): Went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position (Dustin Ackley left three) and stranded eight.
  • May 13 (4-2 to San Diego at Safeco Field): Went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
  • May 21 (5-4 to Baltimore at Camden Yards): Went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 13 on base.
  • June 4 (2-1 to Tampa Bay at Safeco Field): Went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
  • June 5 (1-0 to Tampa Bay at Safeco Field): Went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
  • July 8 (5-4 loss to Detroit at Safeco Field): Went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position (Ackley 2, Kyle Seager 2) and stranded 11.

If the Mariners had cashed in those games, they would start the second half 48-41, a half-game behind the Angels (48-40) for the division lead. They didn’t. With the game there for the taking, the Mariners almost always gagged.

The Mariners hit .209 in the first half with runners in scoring position. It’s one thing to rank last in the majors in an offensive category, as the Mariners do in this one (they also rank last in team batting average at .236), but quite another to rank, even with the second half to play, as the worst RISP team in 46 years and the fourth-worst in history.

Dismal with RISP:

Year Team Manager RISP Skinny
1969 Padres Preston Gomez .201 Expansion team finished 52-110
1968 Mets Gil Hodges .204 Rotation had Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan
1963 Senators Mickey Vernon .207 Ex-Sea. mgr. Chuck Cottier hit .205
2015 Mariners Lloyd McClendon .209 Morrison .111, Ackley .116
1981 Mets Joe Torre .210 Went 51-62 in strike-shortened season
2015 Reds Bryan Price .210 39-47, 4th place in NL Central
1967 Dodgers Walter Alston .211 Ex-Sea mgr. Jim Lefebvre hit .261
1968 Angels Bill Rigney .212 Finished 67-95, 36 games out of first
1972 Padres Preston Gomez .213 Finished 58-95, 6th in NL West
1972 Mets Yogi Berra .213 Hit .225 overall with a .639 OPS

If the 1963 Washington Senators – now the Texas Rangers – hadn’t hit .207, the Mariners would be the worst RISP team in nearly 50 years of American League play. Of course, the Mariners still have plenty of time to leap past the Senators, 1968 Mets and 1969 Padres, in what would be an epic underachievement.

Only four other editions of the Mariners have batted below .230 with RISP over a single season: 2011 (.222), 2010 (.226), 2013 (.228) and 1983 (.229). None of those clubs improved appreciably in the second half. Note that GM Jack Zduriencik presided over all but the 1983 team.


The Mariners begin second-half play Friday against New York at Yankee Stadium. After three in the Bronx, the Mariners play four at Comerica Park in Detroit before returning to Safeco Field July 24 to start a three-game series against Toronto. The Mariners do not have another day off until Aug. 6, meaning 20 games in the next 20 days.


  • jafabian

    Sometimes I think the ghost of the Kingdome still lingers around the M’s. During their tenancy there GM’s would build a team around hitting, trying to take advantage of its friendly confines as Dave Niehaus used to say. (Interesting that the Rays used to have that approach but started winning when they went with pitching and defense in their own domed stadium) Despite moving to Safeco Field the club has never chased after an All-Star free agent pitcher other than Aaron Sele and the hitters typically swing for the fences with little success. Even moving in the fences has had little impact. This team may have been assembled to win but not to win at Safeco Field. The fact that they’re 20-27 at home and 21-21 on the road is very telling. Only Pat Gillick understood that for the M’s to win you need to build a club around pitching and defense.

    Lloyd is a good manager. His roots are in the NL so he understands manufacturing runs. This club simply isn’t getting it done but they are trying. It’s like it’s 2011 all over again and the constants from that season are Felix and Jack Zduriencik. And the problems of this club go far beyond it’s ace pitcher. Maybe bringing in Edgar will help since he had a lot of hitting success at Safeco but the problems go beyond hitting. The OF is not athletic enough to cover ground at Safeco and there’s been too many baserunning blunders. The bullpen has regressed for whatever reason and the rotation beyond Felix, Happ and the injury prone Kuma is much too green to compete consistently. Plus the constant turnover in the roster this season has compromised any cohesiveness the team is trying to build as Jack desperately tries to save his job. Not even Dick Balderson did as many desperate moves as Jack has this season. If Jack does a locker room rant the way Bill Bavasi did near the end of his tenure you know his days are numbered.

    • Effzee

      Not to be too negative… ;-p

      … But absolutely ZERO of the things you wrote above mean ANYTHING as long as Howard Lincoln remains in charge. He is the common thread. There is no mystery around this. Rooting for the Mariners to succeed, as long as Howie remains in charge, is the ultimate exercise in futility. There is *no point whatsoever* in putting energy into analyzing any single roster move, injury situation, illness, coaching change, etc., as long as Howard remains. None of it matters. The *only* thing worthy of discussion around the Mariners is how we can get him to resign his post. That is the *only* move the franchise can make that would have *any* result on the field.

      “For the M’s to win you need to build a club around pitching and defense.” Bunk! Where is this writ? Is this in a Baseball Handbook? For the M’s to win, just like anyone, they need to get good players. Currently relevant major league ball players. Not guys who, if only they would “play to the back of their card,” might contribute to winning. There should be no hoping in sports. You don’t get anywhere hoping guys play well. You go get guys who DO play well, no matter what other voodoo factors you want to believe exist. You don’t keep Willie Bloomquist and Franklin Gutierrez for years on end, eating up roster, salary, energy, and attention because they’ve got a cute nicknames, hoping that by some miracle of the universe they become the players you want them to be. This is not the way to do things. Yet, this is the way Lincolnland does things. There is exactly *one* thing that can make a difference to the results on the field. And that one thing is not happening any time soon.

      • Will Ganschow

        Hadn’t read this when I posted. Absolutely spot on. How about if like the Green Bay Packers we form an organization, buy the club and pick our own CEO.

    • Trygvesture

      Rant, Jack, Rant! — we can only hope.

  • Will Ganschow

    Here is my take. The only people who stay with an organization are the one’s whose personality and behavior fit into the management style of the organization. The Mariners management style has never been “step up to the plate,” except the brief time that Pat Gillick was here. The Ms need a clutch Board Chair/CEO.

    • 1coolguy

      Gillick was the one hire the M’s can be proud of yet then foolishly let him get away, when he then rebuilt the Phillies into a winning team.
      It’s been a mess ever since.

      • Trygvesture

        Which interestingly coincides exactly with the coronation of Lincoln as King of the Klownship. Corrolation isn’t causation– but when the graphs are so perfectly aligned the implication is obvious, the gut feel baseball sensibilities validated and the Man with Another Agenda and Dinosauric Management Skills is clearly the culprit. But, the Board and ownership coalition is a limp richard in every way — except tp passively ride the equity appreciation to their greedy galaxy of benign neglect for the Game, the Community and any gratitude for what the were given to hold as guardians and caretakers — a Major League Franchise in a Palace they didn’t earn.