Mariners need to turn around some stunning Safeco numbers
Coming off a nine-game road trip during which they hit .281 and averaged 7.3 runs per game, the Mariners open a nine-game Interleague homestand tonight that looms as a great indicator of just where this young club stands in its offensive progress.
Going 5-4 against the Rangers, White Sox and Angels — three of the hottest teams in the American League — was a nice boost. But if the Mariners come home and go back to their Safeco Field struggles, a lot of eyebrows are going to be raised.
Here’s one of the most stunnng statistics imaginable. Ten weeks into the season, the Mariners’ highest batting average at Safeco Field right now is Casper Wells at .235. And he’s now in Tacoma.
Ichiro is hitting .231. Brendan Ryan is at .217, Dustin Ackley .213, Kyle Seager .200, Jesus Montero .194, Justin Smoak .188, Michael Saunders .185, Mike Carp .145, Miguel Olivo .121.
As a team, the Mariners are batting .193 at Safeco Field. The next lowest home average in the AL is Oakland at .213. Their slugging percentage is an anemic .305, well behind the next-worse team in Cleveland (.346).
On the road? The Mariners are seventh among 14 AL teams with a .257 average and fifth in slugging percentage at .417. In other words, respectable.
Two quick points on this. Thanks to a difficult early schedule, Seattle has played the fewest home games in the Majors at 22 (compared to 37 on the road). But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I fully believe cold, damp weather has far more to do with the Mariners hitting difficulties at home than the deep fences.
Having more games in the middle of the summer, when the weather is warmer, could turn out being a nice bonus for this club. But the weather isn’t looking great this week, so we’ll see how they do against the Dodgers, Padres and Giants.
Manager Eric Wedge is counting on something else. He feels his young team is learning on the go this season.
“We’re not the same team now that we were at the beginning of the year,” Wedge said Wednesday in Anaheim. “We’re not the same team we were when we started this road trip. When it comes to the home-road splits , you can’t argue with it. They’re real. Over time will that get a lot better? I’m sure they will, because I think we’re a lot better. And the fact of the matter is, we haven’t been home much yet. If we can unpack and get comfortable, I think that will help us, too.”
So we’ll see how things play out this week. If the Mariners carry over the offensive momentum of the road trip, it will be a good sign. But history says the offensive numbers will decline some in Safeco Field while the pitching suddenly will look better again.
It’s been that way for 10 years. But that said, this team isn’t going to hit .193 all year at home. That number will go up. The key will be just how far in the coming months as the weather warms and this team continues to grow.