Long Live June
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on July 2, 2006
Well, other than the fact that the Mariners posted their first winning month in two and a half seasons…
June was good to the M’s and while we have all seen the numbers of Ichiro, Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson.
The team hit .287 with an AL-best 39 home runs. They stole 17 bases in 21 attempts, led the league in OPS and SLG during the month – including a total of 104 extra-base hits, also the best in the AL – and scored 5.81 runs per game, third most in the AL.
They also grounded into just 18 double plays in June, the second fewest in the American League.
But the most important numbers of all might just be 139.
In June, the Mariners tallied up 1010 plate appearances and fanned just 139 times – 13.7 percent – a large improvement over the 16.4 percent totalled in April.
It’s pretty simple. The M’s are having much better at-bats and though the walk totals aren’t significantly better (75 in June, 59 in May), they have stayed away from the strikeout and put a hurtin’ on pitches — in hitters’ counts.
June produced 39% more hitters counts (2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1) for the Mariners than did May, and 41% more than April. The M’s worked to 3-0 exactly TWICE as much as in June as in May, and just shy of twice the total from April.
Adrian Beltre experienced an 0-2 count in just 12 plate appearances and had a 1-2 count only 24 times. In April he went 0-2 31 times and 1-2 49 times.In May, Beltre fell behind 0-2 in 33 plate appearances and 1-2 in 40, but less than half as many times in June. He also hit .335 when he swung at the first pitch and .319 when he swung at the second pitch – in June. This would explain his .611 slugging percentage for the month.
Richie Sexson also saw a similar trend take shape. In both April and May, Sexson saw 23 different 0-2 counts and 23 and 27 counts of a ball and two strikes, respectively.In June, Sexson went 0-2 just 14 times and saw a 1-2 count just 23 times and hit .279 when he swing before the third pitch was thrown.
Oddly, however, Sexson hit .265 with two strikes in June and hit .411 with a full count.
The sluggers are being much more aggressive early in the count and they aren’t alone. Only Carl Everett and Yuniesky Betancourt failed to significantly improve thier 0-2 and 1-2 count totals significantly, using percentage in
Jeff Pentland may have a lot to do with this, but the credit has to go to the players. They’ve been patient with themselves and fought through the toughest of times offensively, and through the magic of contageous hitting, not one hitter in the lineup that had at least 90 PAs in June had a worse month than the previous two.
The club hit .294 with runners in scoring position in June – with a .456 slugging percentage – and hit .271 with runners in scoring position and two down – including 11 home runs.All of a sudden, the M’s can hit, from top to bottom.
Jeremy Reed and Yuniesky Betancourt combined for a .431 slugging percentage in June, with six home runs and 13 total extra-base hits… from the final two spots in the order. In the words of Adam Sandler – not too shabby.
Ichiro (.386/.427/.509, 4 HR, 8 SB) Beltre (.324/.387/.611, 5 HR), Sexson (.539 SLG, 8 HR, 26 RBI) and Ibanez (.326/.424/.695, 9 HR, 27 RBI) should share player of the month honors.
For the record, the M’s hit .287/.343/.497/.841 for the month of June with 39 home runs. Who woulda thunk that the M’s would lead the league in power categories for any month.
The pitching wasn’t too bad, either, posting a 3.60 Team ERA, 4th in the AL.
Our buddy Jake Woods tossed 10.1 scoreless innings (and 2.2 more on June 31st*) in June while Rafael Soriano (0.66 ERA, 15-2 K/BB) and J.J. Putz (0.75 ERA, 16-1 K/BB, 7 svs) continued to be the best bullpen tandem in baseball.
Gil Meche went 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA in five starts while Jamie Moyer went 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA in six June starts. Meche’s 1.60 mark is second best in the league for the month, behind only Johan Santana. Moyer ranked sixth.
Felix Hernandez was also very good in June, posting a 3.38 ERA.
As a whole, the M’s starting rotation tallied a 3.80 ERA but Moyer, Meche and Hernandez combined to go 10-3 with a 2.32 ERA and walked just 26 batters in 112 1/3 innings.
Hooray for June!
Tomorrow, on June 32nd, the M’s go for their 8th series win of the month.