Iwakuma to Play in MLB-Japan All-Star Series

Hisashi Iwakuma has been added to the roster for the MLB Japan All-Star Series.

Hisashi Iwakuma has been added to the roster for the MLB Japan All-Star Series.

Mariners right-handed starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma has been selected to play in the MLB-Japan All-Star Series in November. Iwakuma and select MLB stars will play a five-game series against “Samurai Japan” (Japan’s National Team) in the 2014 All-Star Series. In addition, two exhibition games will be played prior to and after the All-Star Series of games.

Iwakuma, 33, will join teammate Robinson Cano in the renewal of the event for the first time since 2006, which will mark the 11th All-Star Series and the 36th time overall that a team of Major Leaguers has toured Japan for exhibition games, dating back to 1908. Iwakuma is scheduled to make one start for the MLB squad during the series, with a limit of 80 pitches has been set for each starting pitcher (Rules for Series).

“I am very happy and honored to be part of this All-Star team,” said Iwakuma. “I look forward to pitching in my hometown during the series.”

Iwakuma went 15-9 with a 3.52 ERA (70 ER, 170.0 IP) in 28 starts with the Mariners in 2014. He ranked 2nd in the Majors with a 1.06 walk rate (21 BB) and 3rd with a 7.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and also had the 4th-best WHIP in the American League at 1.050. The Tokyo native became the fifth Japanese-born pitcher with 15 wins in a season, joining Hideo Nomo (3x), Daisuke Matsuzaka (2x), Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda.

In three seasons with the Mariners Iwakuma has combined to go 38-20 with a 3.07 ERA, including 37-19, 2.97 in 77 career starts. Prior to joining the Mariners Iwakuma played 11 seasons in Japan with Kintetsu/Rakuten in the Pacific League, combining to go 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA in 226 G/225 GS. He was named the Pacific League MVP and Eiji Sawamura Award winner (Cy Young equivalent) in 2008 after going 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA. He has represented Japan in the World Baseball Classic (2009) and Olympics (2004).

The team will holds workouts at Dodger Stadium on November 6-7 (12-2:30 pm). The MLB Network will exclusively televise every game of the Japan All-Star Series live in the U.S., beginning with the exhibition game on Tuesday, November 11 at 1 am PT (check local listings for replays).

All-Star Series games will be hosted in Osaka (Kyocera Dome), Tokyo (Tokyo Dome), Sapporo (Sapporo Dome) and Okinawa (Okinawa Cellular Stadium). The complete schedule is as follows:

2014 Suzuki All-Star Series Schedule
Tuesday, Nov. 11: Exhibition vs. Hanshin Tigers/Yomiuri Giants at Koshien
Wednesday, Nov. 12: Game #1 at Kyocera Dome, Osaka
Thursday, Nov. 13: Travel Day
Friday, Nov. 14: Game #2 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Saturday, Nov. 15: Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Sunday, Nov. 16: Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Monday, Nov. 17: Travel Day
Tuesday, Nov. 18: Game #5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
Wednesday, Nov. 19: Travel Day
Thursday, Nov. 20: Exhibition vs Team Japan, Okinawa

Japan Series

2014 Rewind – The Mighty, Mighty Bullpen

The Great 8 of the Mariners Bullpen (left-right): Dominic Leone, Yoervis Medina, Joe Beimel, Charlie Furbush, Fernando Rodney, Tom Wilhelmsen, Brandon Maurer, Danny Farquhar.

The Great 8 of the Mariners Bullpen (left-right): Dominic Leone, Yoervis Medina, Joe Beimel, Charlie Furbush, Fernando Rodney, Tom Wilhelmsen, Brandon Maurer, Danny Farquhar.

There were plenty of highlights from the 2014 season, and you can read all about them in the Season in Review. One of the more amazing storylines of the season was the dominating performance from the bullpen. Consider the following for just one second:

  • MLB Leaders – The bullpen lead the Majors with a 2.59 ERA (144 ER, 500.0 IP), well ahead of the 2nd-best mark of 2.73 by San Diego and the next best AL team Oakland at 2.91.
  • High Marks – The 2.59 ERA marked the 6th-lowest by an American League bullpen during the designated hitter era (since 1973), and the 2nd-lowest mark dating back to 1990 (2.55 ERA by KC in 2013).
  • Lots of Appearances – Set an American League record with 7 different pitchers making at least 50 relief appearances, tying the MLB record set by the 2002 Atlanta Braves.
  • Low Average – Led the American League and ranked 2nd in MLB with .219 opponent batting average.
  • Saves Leader - Fernando Rodney led the Majors and set a club record with 48 saves.
Mighty Bullpen

The Mariners bullpen led the Majors with a 2.59 ERA in 2014.

All those statistics are pretty amazing by as a standalone, but when you look at the improvement from 2013 to 2014, you really start to see how important the bullpen was to the Mariners success and 87-75 record. In 2013, the Mariners ranked 29th in the Majors with a 4.58 ERA. With help from the Elias Sports Bureau we’ve found that the 1.99 ERA improvement from 2013 to 2014 is the 4th-best over the last 20 seasons (1995-2014):

   Improvement  Year   ERA  Year  ERA    Team
   2.61         2008   3.55 2007  6.16   Tampa Bay Rays 
   2.10         2005   2.80 2004  4.90   Cleveland Indians 
   2.03         2011   3.71 2010  5.74   Arizona Diamondbacks
   1.99         2014   2.59 2013  4.58   Seattle Mariners
   1.89         1995   2.71 1994  4.60   St. Louis Cardinals

You can read all about the bullpen and their different personalities in this piece by beat writer Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. And the following illustrations that ran in the Times are pretty awesome as well.

Bulpen_02

Illustration courtesy of Seattle Times.

 

Bullpen_01

Illustration courtesy of Seattle Times.

Mariners Spring Training Report Dates

2015SpringTrainingDates

The countdown begins!

Officially it is 113 days until Mariners Pitchers & Catchers report to the Spring Training Complex in Peoria, Arizona.

The official spring training schedule will be released early next week.

MLB Awards Season

First off, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series in what was a great 7-game series vs. the Kansas City Royals.

While baseball may not return until Pitchers and Catchers report to Arizona and Florida for Spring Training starting in February, there will be plenty of baseball news over the next few weeks.

Here is a listing of some of the many baseball awards that will be announced and how you can follow. Hopefully there will be a few Mariners who take home some hardware!

Monday, Nov. 3 MLBPA Players Choice Awards MLB Network
Tuesday, Nov. 4 BBWAA Award Finalists MLB Network
Rawlings® Gold Glove Awards ESPN2 (4 pm PT)
Wednesday, Nov. 5 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards MLB Network
Thursday, Nov. 6 Silver Slugger Awards presented by Louisville Slugger MLB Network
Monday, Nov. 10 AL & NL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year MLB Network
Tuesday, Nov. 11 AL & NL Manager of the Year MLB Network
Wednesday, Nov. 12 AL & NL Cy Young Award MLB Network
Thursday, Nov. 13 AL & NL Most Valuable Player MLB Network

 

Kyle Seager – On the Rise

 

Seager - on the rise

Kyle Seager has quickly made a name for himself after only three full Major League seasons. Here is a look at Kyle’s career stats, be sure to pay attention to the steady rise of his home run and RBI totals over the last few seasons:

Seager_Stats

In 2014, Seager was a first-time All-Star while leading the team in home runs (25), RBI (96) and extra-base hits (56). He became the first Mariners player since Raul Ibañez (2005-2008) to record 20+ HR in at least 3 consecutive seasons and joins Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Presley as the only Mariners players with 20+ HR in 3 of first 4 MLB seasons (20 in ‘12, 22 in ‘13). Additionally, he became the first Mariners player with a 25 HR, 95 RBI season since Jose Lopez in 2009.

In addition to his solid performance at the plate, Seager has turned into one of the best third basemen in MLB. Kyle led all players at the hot corner with a .981 fielding percentage, the best single-season fielding percentage by a third baseman in club history (Jeff Cirillo, .973 in 2002), and the 10th-best in American League history since 1948. He was rewarded by being named one of three Rawlings® Gold Glove American League Finalists (winner to be announced Nov. 4 on ESPN2).

2015 Season Ticket Plans and Prices

Mariners Logo

Planning for 2015 is well underway. One of the first boxes teams check on the To Do list is renewing their season tickets. Mariners account holders started getting information about their renewal plan and prices this week.

A major change from 2014 is the introduction of the 20-Game Plan. This plan will replace all partial season ticket plans going forward (Half, Business, Weekend and 16-Game Plans). There are four pre-selected plans and a Flex Plan that lets you choose your own schedule. Fans can combine 20-Game Plans to get the number of games they want.

The Mariners have used “variable” pricing for several years based on opponent, day of the week and special event. This season, there will also be demand-based pricing for ticket locations. Those areas with highest demand will have price increases, those with lower demand will have price decreases. The largest increase is $2.62 per seat per game. The largest decrease is $1.26 per seat per game. (This is only the second time since 2007 that full season ticket prices have been raised.)

Renewing season ticket holders will pay a lower price than new accounts, and all season ticket holders will still get discounts of from 10% to as much as 60% off the price of single game tickets.

Season ticket holders also enjoy other benefits including:

  • Seattle Mariners Team Store discounts of 10% everyday (and 20% every Tuesday) at all five Team Stores.
  • Discount on pre-paid season parking at Safeco Field garage.
  • Discounts on select Safeco Field Suites.
  • Exclusive Season Ticket Holder events and opportunities such as early gate openings to watch Mariners batting practice, exclusive meet and greet opportunities, and more.
  • Complimentary 2015 Mariners Information Guide.
  • Presale for Spring Training, single-game tickets and other Safeco Field special events.
  • Priority for postseason tickets.
  • Hit It Here Café reservations on game days.
  • Secure online ticket management, including resale and forwarding services through com/MyAccount.

Complete information about 2015 Mariners season tickets is available at mariners.com or by calling 206-346-4001.

Information about 2015 single-game tickets will be announced later.

Felix Hernandez Runner-Up for Luis Aparicio Award

Felix Hernandez won the 2009 Luis Aparicio Award and was the runner-up in 2010 & 2014.

Felix Hernandez won the 2009 Luis Aparicio Award and was the runner-up in 2010 & 2014.

In the last month, Felix Hernandez has won an A.L. ERA crown, was named a Sporting News All-Star and was named as a finalist for an American League Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

Hernandez was also in the running for the Luis Aparicio Award, which is given annually to a Venezuelan player in Major League Baseball who is judged to have recorded the best individual performance in that year. The winner of the award is determined by a vote conducted by Venezuelan sports journalists and Spanish-language media around the world. It is named after former MLB shortstop Luis Aparicio, who is the only player from Venezuela to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, Hernandez came up just short of Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. Hernandez received 28 first place votes, 36 second place, 31 third place, four fourth place and one fifth place vote to finish second, ahead of Detroit’s Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera.

Hernandez won the 2009 Luis Aparicio Award after finishing second in the A.L. Cy Young Award voting, but did not repeat as the winner in 2010 after his Cy Young season.

Let’s hope history repeats itself and Felix Hernandez is named as the 2014 Cy Young Award winner next month.

2014 Season in Review

01_2014_PSMG_cover_A

The following is an in-depth look at the Mariners 2014 season, complete with updated player bios, season review notes, in-depth statistics and a minor league review.

 

2014 Rewind – Who Gives a Shift?

A lot has been made in recent seasons about the amount of defensive shifts that have taken place in MLB. An interesting story was published today via John Dewan’s Stat of the Week and Seattle Times writers Adam Jude also wrote an article on shifts earlier during the season.

The Fielding Bible data, which will appear in the 2015 Bill James Handbook, shows that over the past four seasons the number of shifts in Major League Baseball, as measured by a ball hit into play when a shift is in effect, has nearly doubled every year. Here are the totals by year:

MLB Shifts by Season
Year Number of Shifts
2010 2,464
2011 2,357
2012 4,577
2013 8,180
2014 13,296

The report goes on to show that the shift has also been pretty effective in terms of the defensive metric of runs saved:

MLB Shifts by Season
Year Number of Shifts Shift Runs Saved
2010 2,464 36
2011 2,357 42
2012 4,577 76
2013 8,180 135
2014 13,296 195

How do the Mariners stack up in all of this? According to Baseball Info Solutions the Mariners had 9 defensive runs saved this season due to the shift (Mariners were at -2 runs saved overall for the season, a drastic improvement from -97 in 2013). The 9 runs saved due to shifts was 7th-best in the American League.

 

Kyle, Felix, Robinson Named Gold Glove Finalists

Gold Glove

Three finalists at each position in the American League and National League were announced today for the prestigious Rawlings® Gold Glove.

Mariners Kyle Seager (3B), Robinson Cano (2B) and Felix Hernandez (P) were among the three players at their respective positions to be named finalists. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 4 at 4 pm PT on Baseball Tonight on ESPN2.

The Rawlings® Gold Glove selection process is based approximately via 75% votes by manager and coaches (up to 7 per team, can’t vote for players on own team) and 25% based on the SABR Defensive Index (statistical based).

The Mariners have not had a Gold Glove winner since Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez in 2010. Seattle had at least one winner 24 consecutive seasons from 1987-2010.

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