The Windup: A look at the Mariners' luck; Mets and Phillies get ready for the London Series (2024)

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Let’s play Good News, Bad News for the Mariners. Plus: Ken measures the Yankees duo of Aaron Judge and Juan Soto against history, we prepare for the London Series and it’s time for the Baseball Card of the Week. I’m Levi Weaver, here with Ken Rosenthal, welcome to The Windup!

The Mariners’ lucky pitchers and unlucky hitters

Let’s play a game of: “Is this good news or bad news for Mariners fans?”

Good: The Mariners areleading the AL West by five games.

Bad: That’s only five gamesin the AL West, which has the worst collective record of any division in baseball, at 143-172 (.454 winning percentage).

Good: Eno Sarris hasan article todaydigging in on five hitters who are doing the right things but getting the wrong results. The metrics he uses to make his points are plate discipline, barrel rate and exit velocity. These numbers, retroactively applied to last year’s players, would have predicted the big breakouts for Willson Contreras, Bobby Witt Jr. and others.

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In the article, he lists 12 players who fit the description. Of those 12, three — a full 25 percent — are Mariners: Julio Rodríguez, Cal Raleigh and Mitch Haniger.

Let’s also bring in the stats we’ve been peppering in here lately: xwOBA, wOBA and Diff:

Unlucky Mariners

PLAYERwOBAxwOBADiff

Mitch Haniger

.280

.301

-.021

Cal Raleigh

.299

.318

-.019

Julio Rodriguez

.299

.329

-.030

Those are, in fact, the three unluckiest hitters on the Mariners roster. (Raleigh’s Diff is tied with Mitch Garver, who has a .262 wOBA and a .281 xwOBA for a minus-.019 Diff.)

For context, the league average wOBA is around .309 this year, meaning thatall three players have been below average, and two of the three should be above average. Pair that with Eno’s numbers, andit seems likely that the Mariners’ offense should be better in the second half.

So, how about that pitching?

(Not) Bad: As expected, the Mariners’ pitching staff has been excellent. The league average ERA is 3.95 this year, and nine of the 11 pitchers listed on the team’sBaseball Savantpage come in lower than that.

But if the xwOBA giveth, it must taketh away, even if only a little. Of those 11 pitchers, 10 have a higher xwOBA than wOBA allowed. Expected ERA is similar: Eight pitchers are outperforming their projections.

But what, are we going to scoff at Bryan Woo’s 1.30 ERA because his expected ERA is a miserable … 2.08?

The implication: There’s probably a little regression due here as well, but not from good to bad — more like from extremely good to still pretty good.

Ken’s Notebook: The best right-left hitting one-two punch

Frommy latest column:

During spring training, a New York Yankees official posed a fascinating question:In the history of the game, has there ever been a better combination of a right- and left-handed hitter than Aaron Judge and Juan Soto?

The official wasn’t trying to brag about the Yankees’ offseason acquisition of Soto. He did not wish to be quoted. He simply wanted to start a baseball conversation.

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My immediate reaction was that Judge and Soto might not be the best right-left combination in the game today, much less all-time.What about the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani? Or Betts and Freddie Freeman?Heck, the Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. and Matt Olson were pretty darned good last season, too.

With the Dodgers visiting Yankee Stadium this weekend, and Judge and Soto on particular tears, I decided to take a deeper dive. Obviously,Soto’s departurefrom Thursday night’s game due to left forearm discomfort — and the fact he will undergo imaging on Friday — could alter the entire discussion.

My goal was to look at not just current left-right combinations, but some of the great combinations in baseball history. Using Baseball Reference’s Stathead tool, I restricted my search to the live-ball era, which began in 1920, and set the required number for plate appearances to whatever the minimum was in a particular season to qualify for the NL-AL league leaders.

I ran a separate search for the Negro Leagues and dropped the required number of PAs to 300, because those leagues played fewer games. And I eliminated the 60-game 2020 season, viewing it as too much of an aberration to include.

The offensive measure I chose wasOPS+, which takes a player’s on-base plus slugging percentage and normalizes the number across the entire league. Entering Thursday’s play, Judge and Soto ranked 1-2 in the majors in that category, Judge at 104 percent above league average, Soto at 88 percent above. So, while it’s only June 7, my first goal was to determine whether a right- and left-handed hitter in the same lineup (or vice versa) had ever finished 1-2 in OPS-plus.

Now, before everyone loses their minds in the comments section, I was looking for a specific left-right combination, not the absolute best one-two punch. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, both left-handed hitters, easily were the most potent duo ever, ranking 1-2 in OPS-plus in 1927, ’30 and ’31, and top three in ’28, ’32 and ’33.

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The Mickey Mantle-Roger Maris combo also is in a separate category, considering that Mantle was a switch hitter. Their best finish, not surprisingly, was in 1961, when Maris hit his then-record 61 home runs. Mantle ranked first in OPS-plus that season, Maris fourth.

As I went year by year, I discovered some left-right combos that ranked surprisingly high, and others I thought would be more dominant, relative to their leagues.Check out the columnto find out who those players are.

Get ready for the London Series this weekend

Tomorrow marks the beginning of this year’s London Series — the Phillies and Mets will square off Saturday and Sunday at London Stadium.

Beautiful day for baseball, innit ☀️ pic.twitter.com/l5Tg5xnBxz

— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) June 7, 2024

The London series began in 2019, with MLB sending one of their most storied rivalries across the pond — the Yankees swept the two-game series over the Red Sox. After a three-year hiatus, beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic, another historic rivalry was showcased as theCubs and Cardinalssplit their 2023 series.

This year, it’s another division rivalry: the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies, who have the second-best record in baseball (44-19, the Yankees have one more win) will take on the Mets (27-35), whose season has been a series of misfires (though they have won their last three games).

Tyler Kepner’s“Sliders” columnthis week dove into the 10 (and yes, there are only 10) MLB players born in the United Kingdom since 1900 (there were 40 U.K.-born players between 1835 and 1900).

I’m a sucker for learning details about lesser-known players in baseball history, and Britain’s MLB roster has a few that fit that bill: Of the 10 players Kepner listed, half played 10 games or fewer in the big leagues.

On the flip side of that spectrum, did you know that Bobby Thomson, who played for 15 years, was a three-time All-Star and hit the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to win the 1951 pennant, was born in Glasgow, Scotland?

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Here are the details for this weekend’s games — the Mets have been designated the “home” team in the first game, and the Phillies for the second.

Sat. June 8

Home team: Mets

Starters: PHI — Ranger Suárez (9-1, 1.70) vs. NYM —Sean Manaea (3-2, 3.63)

Start time: 1:10 p.m. ET (6:10 p.m. BST)

Watch on: Fox

Sun. June 9

Home team: Phillies

Starters: NYM — Jose Quintana (1-5, 5.17) vs. PHI —Taijuan Walker (3-1, 5.73)

Start time: 10:10 a.m. ET (3:10 p.m. BST)

Watch on: ESPN

Baseball Card of the Week

The Windup: A look at the Mariners' luck; Mets and Phillies get ready for the London Series (1) The Windup: A look at the Mariners' luck; Mets and Phillies get ready for the London Series (2)

In the 1980s and ’90s, you could get baseball cards anywhere. Shredded-up beef jerky? Round cards. Box of cereal? Cards. Dog food? Cards (No, really). This one came from what I had remembered as a Beckett price guide, but apparently was something simply called “Baseball Cards Magazine.”

Bo Jackson was the best. Get lost in ahighlights wormholewith me, won’t you?

Handshakes and High Fives

Weird and Wild is BACK! We missed Jayson Stark while he was on vacation. Thankfully, he brings us up to speed on all theweirdness we may have missedwhile he was gone — including a turtle delay.

TheChicago White Soxhave existed since 1901. Not once in the preceding 123 years had they ever lost 14 games in a row. Well,they have now.

One day afterManny Machado’sstatus became “day to day”(mild strain in his right upper hip flexor), the Padres have a diagnosis on starting pitcher Joe Musgrove: He has abone spur and bone bruisein his right elbow. He hopes to resume throwing in two weeks.

Correction: I said in yesterday’s Windup that T.J. McFarland scored the A’s second run. That would be newsworthy, if it were true —McFarland is a left-handed relief pitcher. Daz Cameron scored the run.

Speaking of theA’s, they have signedleft-handed pitcherWei-En Linout of Taiwan. Lin is a known name in the Pacific Rim — he started the semi-final and final games of his 2017 Little League season, throwing over200 pitches in one day. And keeping it in Oakland for one more note …

Kelsie Whitmoreof theOakland Ballersmade history, becoming thefirst female starting pitcher in Pioneer League history (1939-present).

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Elly De La Cruzhomered on the anniversaryof his call-up. C. Trent Rosecrans tells us about that, and the somewhat surprising demotion ofstarting pitcherGraham Ashcraft.

You can buy tickets to every MLB gamehere.

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(Top photo of Julio Rodríguez: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

The Windup: A look at the Mariners' luck; Mets and Phillies get ready for the London Series (2024)

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