At this point in the 2010 season the 1977 expansion Mariners are out performing the present day Mariners. After 62 games the 1977 team was 25-37 while the current team is 23-39. That is wins and losses, but there is more.
The current Mariners are batting .243 which has risen since they fired Alan Cockrell as hitting coach. Not that he was at fault, but when he left the team was batting .225. The improved hitting has not translated into wins. It is hard to win without power and after 62 games the M’s have a mere 34 home runs, last in the major leagues. The 77 boys slugged out 133 and batted .256. Safe to say that at this point the current M’s are trailing their expansion ancestors.
But it is not batting averages that win games, but runs. The 77 team averaged 3.85 runs per game while scoring 624 runs. The 2010 team is averaging 3.5 runs per game that projects for 162 games to be 567. Houston, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh have scored fewer runs than Seattle, but with a little effort the Mariners can claim last place before seasons end.
In pitching the current M’s have the advantage with a 4.14 ERA compared to the expansion M’s 4.83. Of late the bullpen has faltered and it looks as if Mark Lowe is out for the season and with Cliff Lee certain to be traded for prospects, it seems the pitching is due to get worse.
The 1977 team won 64 games and the current boys are on a pace for 60. It is hard to imagine a team of Ichiro, Figgins, Lopez, Gutierrez, King Felix, Lee, et al, to be worse than Jose Baez, Bill Stein, Bob Stinson, Puchy Delgado, and Glenn “the tall Arkansan” Abbott. I am aware 62 games is not a full season and there is time for improvement, but when losses continue to pile up, when your catchers lead the majors in passed balls, when you find ways to lose each day, it is hard to see improvement coming.
In the 2009 draft the Washington Nationals had first pick, the Mariners had the second pick. Had the Nationals not lost their last two games and the Mariners not won their last two games, the Mariners would have drafted first and had the opportunity to draft Stephen Strasburg rather than Dustin Ackley, batting .246 with one home run and 18 RBI’s with AA West Tennessee. Ackley is only 22, still developing and can not be written off.
But it does bring up the “what if” situation. Would Strasburg now be pitching for the hapless Mariners? Would he still be the talk of baseball? If he were with the Mariners, fans would have hope, something positive to talk about, reasons to go to a game.
The 77 team was not expected to win, but they were entertaining. The 2010 team was supposed to contend; they are not contending and they are not entertaining. They are the black hole of baseball. Bring back Puchy Delgado!