The common reaction I get when I tell people I’m a Seattle Mariners fan is “why?” and a look that says, “I’m sorry for you.” I could say that I’m a fan because the Mariners are the local baseball team that I grew up rooting for. That doesn’t explain why I’ve continued to be a fan into my adult life, through all the frustrating seasons, rationally choosing to continue to support the team even though there is very little hope in sight. Yet in my eyes, there is always hope. I believe in the Seattle Mariners. I have believed in them for the last 10 miserable years. I believed in them during the exciting 7 years before that. It isn’t always easy and it certainly isn’t always fulfilling but they are my team.
Being a fan of any team involves two interrelated facets, past success and future hope. At any given time, these two facets shape the way a fan connects with his team. If success has been recent, future hope fades into the back of the collective mind of the fanbase. If a team has been in rebuilding mode for what seems like an eternity, future hope remains the only thing that keeps fans interested in the team. These two facets interact with each other, creating a climate of interest that shifts as the team makes decisions about the direction of the team.
With the Seattle Mariners, there is a history of success that is fairly recent. Between 1995 and 2003, the Seattle Mariners had a record of 802-637 (.557 Win%) and reached the playoffs four times, advancing to the American League Championship series three times. This period of limited success was followed by 10 years of futility and frustration that continues today.
When discussing the Mariners, I will be analyzing the impact team decisions will have on the ability to rebuild a successful, competitive team. Success does not necessarily mean a World Series or even qualifying for the playoffs every year. To me, success means putting a quality, entertaining, and most importantly, competitive team on the field.
With all of that in mind, I’d like to briefly write about statistical analysis and projection. I consider statistical analysis to be incredibly beneficial to the management of a baseball team and to the ability of casual fans to interact in a more in-depth way with the sport. Statistical analysis is not the ultimate method to analyze a baseball team, traditional scouting methods are hugely beneficial and provide insights that statistics cannot provide. However, for someone like me, the only connection I have to the team is through statistics and casual observation.
Wherever possible, I’ll make sure to link to definitions of the different statistics I mention, most of these will come from fangraphs.com. In the following post, I’ll show you what analysis on this blog might look like using yesterday’s transaction between the Mariners and Orioles.