No, quippy starts to the mailbag this week. The heat is coming to the Puget Sound and energy must be conserved. If you have air conditioning, can I can stay over Sunday night? I will bring adult beverages.
As always, these are real questions from the climate-sensitive folks known as my Twitter followers.
Obviously, this hasn’t been an ideal start for White in terms of hitting production. From a fielding standpoint, he’s been brilliant. I knew he would be good defensively having watched him in spring training, but he’s made some astonishing plays in the first 21 games of the season. His impact on the game from that aspect is palpable.
But the offense is a problem. Coming into Saturday’s game, White has a .113/.169/.197 slash line with eight hits in 71 at-bats, three doubles, a homer, five RBIs, five walks and 34 strikeouts. Yes, he’s striking out in almost 45 percent of his plate appearances.
And the frustration from those failures of late has been noticeable from the easy-going and ultra-polite White.
But if you dig deeper into some of the peripheral numbers (yes, it’s a smallish sample size, but it’s all we have), you see that he has a .189 Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) which does speak to some bad luck. I can think of at least five hard-hit balls that have been gloved by defenders that could change White’s numbers a little and mindset a lot.
Speaking of hard-hit balls, per Baseball Savant (a site you should use often) — White has the Mariners’ third-highest average exit velocity of balls in play at 91.1 mph and the second-highest hard-hit-ball percentage at 55.3. Yes, he isn’t making as much contact as he would prefer, but when he is, it’s coming off the bat hard. That’s a good sign.
The plate discipline numbers aren’t as glaring as you think despite the strikeouts. Looking at the plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs, White has swung at 31.5 percent of pitches out of the strikezone (O-Swing). The league average O-Swing percentage in 2019 was 31.6. His Z-Swing percentage (pitches in the strike zone) is 68 percent, while the average league average in 2019 was 68.5 percent. White has swung at 48.7 percent of pitches seen, which is slightly above the 2019 league average of 47 percent.
The contact percentage on pitches outside of the zone — White at 42.3 percent and 2019 league average at 62.7 percent — and in the zone — White at 73 percent and 2019 league average at 84.9 percent — are not as similar. And White’s overall 62.5 contact percentage is about 10 points lower than the 2019 league average while his 18.3 swinging strike percentage on all pitches is well above the 11.3 percent league average in 2019.
We tend to remember the failures and strikeouts more than a quality at-bat that leads to a hard-hit ball that is caught. For the most part, he’s had at least one to two quality at-bats per game where you can see White fighting his way out of the slump and remembering to stay up the middle with his approach.
Would sending White to the alternate training site help him? It could give him a pause to catch his breath, reset his thinking and re-institute his approach. But will he see the type of pitching in Tacoma that has given him trouble in MLB? Maybe from one or two arms there. In a season where the Mariners aren’t going to make the postseason and really never expected to, keeping White up, giving him a random day off on occasion, continuing his work with the MLB coaches while picking the brains of Kyle Seager and Austin Nola might be just as useful. He has to mature his approach to the MLB level vs. MLB talent.
The Mariners don’t believe White is a reactionary person to scrap or change everything he’s done to get to this point just because of these struggles. They’ve continued to remind him that if he stays within his approach and skillset, he’ll be just fine. These next 10 days could be instructive.
If Walker continues to pitch well and the Mariners believe they can get a solid prospect back that might help them moving forward, they should trade him. Walker is going to be a free agent after the season and he should definitely try to capitalize on any success he has this season, including showing teams he’s fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and the shoulder issues that slowed his recovery in 2019.
But Walker testing the free agent market doesn’t mean the Mariners couldn’t bring him back next season.
Given the neck issues that have landed Kendall Graveman on the 10-day injured list and the uncertainty surrounding finding a solution to prevent them moving forward, the Mariners could opt to not exercise his $3.5 million club option for 2021. When Graveman was healthy and looking strong, exercising that option was a no-brainer.
General manager Jerry Dipoto said in an interview just before the season started that the Mariners could very well go with a six-man starting rotation in 2021 again because of starters’ lack of innings in this shortened 2020 season.
So if you go six-man going into 2021 you have: Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn from this season’s rotation with top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert expected to contend for a spot — though they should play the service-time game and wait two weeks to debut him in 2021. Fellow top pitching prospects, George Kirby and Emerson Hancock, probably won’t debut till mid-2021 or 2022. Having another right-hander to supplement that group would be ideal particularly if you aren’t certain about Sheffield or Dunn as long-term solutions for the rotation.
I am a betting man, but those bets are usually reserved for college football, college hoops and betting the under on the first half of Seahawks games. So with neither of those college seasons expected to start on time or at all, I might have to change my betting patterns.
Honestly, I’m curious to see what the 2021 season will be like in terms of the number of games, start date, protocols and rules. Nothing I’ve seen in terms of COVID-19 testing trends, the work toward a vaccine and how we are handling the situation as a society tells me that it will be a return to anything resembling the normal baseball season. That could affect Seattle’s timeline to success that I think has already been delayed.
I’ve always said that 2022 was where I thought the Mariners would be competitive, which means winning more games than losing. That wasn’t just based on Seattle’s prospects but also expected regression from the Astros, continued stupidity from Angels owner Arte Moreno and the A’s inability to keep Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Marcus Semien together.
But if there are more COVID-related delays or issues, including another cancellation of the minor league season then 2023 might seem more realistic.
Yeah, I’m guessing changing the banners outside the stadium or any of the visual aesthetics isn’t a priority since there aren’t going to be fans. Most of their time and effort have gone into changes and maintaining safety protocols. Until they know fans can return, that will be the priority moving forward.
As of now, I expect the West Virginia affiliate to be contracted. It’s disappointing. Rob Manfred could put a stop to this, but he won’t. And it’s bad for baseball.
For space limitations … you’ll notice a Kevin Costner theme, sports documentaries are their own separate category, “Caddyshack” is more than a sports movie to me and “Rudy” is one of the worst sports movies ever.
1. “Bull Durham” — It will always be my favorite baseball movie. “Don’t think, it will only hurt the ballclub.”
2. “Hoosiers” — This should need no explanation. But I’d prefer the director’s cut where Buddy doesn’t suddenly re-emerge without explanation.
3. “Tin Cup” — If you don’t use at least one line from the movie while golfing, you are doing it wrong.
4. “A League of their Own” — I could put this No. 1. Tom Hanks is brilliant in this movie.
5. “Friday Night Lights” — I loved the book and the soundtrack for this movie is amazing.
- “North Dallas Forty”
- “Major League”
- “Slap Shot”
Getting my laundry done during road games and not having someone in the middle seat putting their elbow in my rib cage. I’m trying to find the positives in it. And some free time has been a good thing, but I definitely think it hurts the overall coverage from all media outlets.
I always tell people that Missoula in the fall is my favorite place to be in Montana, but that’s also because of Griz football. But here’s a quick list:
1. Glacier National Park — It’s my favorite place even with the limitations due to COVID.
2. Yellowstone — The tourist numbers should be down in a few months.
3. Missoula — It’s an eclectic city with a mixture of outdoor activities, dining and drinking options and friendly people.
4. Flathead Valley — even though you can’t swim in Flathead or Whitefish Lake, it’s still a great place to visit.
“Yellowstone” is campy, unrealistic and doesn’t necessarily portray real life in Montana. And I still love it because it has Kevin Costner and so many scenes of my home state’s breathtaking beauty. The music used during the show has some of my favorite artists, including Hayes Carll, Tyler Childers, Cody Jinks and Ryan Bingham. The guest appearance from Whiskey Myers playing in a bar was perfect.
Also any show that makes fun of the people in Bozeman is deserved and makes me happy.
Their pictures would have to show the proper amount of disinterest in the game, over-flexing and prominent display of tattoos as well for all to see and the cutouts must be positioned so their backs are to the field.