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Friday, April 03, 2020

How the Seattle Mariners’ Lineup Dynasty Was Assembled

The means by which the Mariners offenses that stretched from the early 1990s into the early 2000s were so consistently good are mostly what you’d expect. Ken Griffey Jr. Edgar Martinez. Alex Rodriguez. Ichiro Suzuki. They might not have been there all at once, but at least two of them overlapped in Seattle’s lineup over a span of 15 consecutive seasons (1989-2004). But is that the end of story? No, actually.

There have been plenty of teams with multiple star position players who have found themselves in lineups that weren’t that productive overall. Where Seattle’s run of lineup dominance gets interesting is how the Mariners were able to surround their superstars with enough other talent from year to year to remain one of the top lineups in the game for more than a decade.

Like the Cleveland Indians, whose eight-year run of dominance was highlighted last week, the Mariners were unable to bring home a World Series championship despite a 116-win season in 2001, and advancing to the ALCS three times in seven seasons. Nevertheless, it was a good time to be a Mariners’ fan. Here’s a look at how it began.

When Ken Griffey Jr. made his major league debut on Opening Day 1989, the Seattle Mariners had yet to put together a winning season in the 12 years since they’d joined the league as an expansion team. And while there was hope that “The Kid” would be the savior, it wasn’t clear if they had the in-house talent to become a perennial contender.

For those of you wondering how the Mariners managed to lose so many Hall of Famers and still get better and better….

 

QLE Posted: April 03, 2020 at 01:17 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: lineups, mariners

Saturday, March 28, 2020

How the Cleveland Indians’ Lineup Dynasty Was Assembled

There’s never really a bad time to “remember some guys,” but with baseball’s return date still up in the air, now seemed like an especially good moment to geek out on some of the best lineups of the past few decades, with a focus on how the groups were assembled. I initially wanted to create a “Top 10 of the Decade” series that would include rankings that were well-balanced between both leagues. But after running the numbers for lineups in the 1990s, I found that the majority of the best lineups were concentrated in the same few teams, mostly led by a core group of hitters performing at an elite level over the course of multiple seasons. The 1998 Houston Astros were the lone National League team that even managed to crack the Top 10 in wOBA, wRC+, or offensive WAR.

Not only did I determine that it would be tricky to rank them relative to each other, it also became clear that one team — the Cleveland Indians — stood out over the rest. Not for one particular season, but for an eight-year run of dominance that began in 1994 and continued into the following decade.

Cleveland’s pitching staffs were typically very good during this period, but the offensive firepower was really something to behold. As I walk you through how these lineups came together, you’ll recognize some Hall of Famers, maybe another future Hall of Famer or two, and a lot of other very good players.

By the time John Hart was promoted to general manager in September 1991, many of the players who would eventually become a core part of the team’s great lineups were either in the minor leagues or just getting their feet wet in the majors. But he certainly had his hand in maintaining the group’s dominance by consistently pulling the right strings when it came to trades and free agency.

 

 

QLE Posted: March 28, 2020 at 01:01 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, lineups

Monday, March 16, 2020

Just for fun: Picking an all-time lineup for a must-win game

Things are understandably slow in the baseball world, as they are in most walks of life right now as we take preventative measures against Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a prompt to help us pass the time, The Athletic’s Marc Carig asked his followers to pick a lineup, from all players throughout baseball history, for a game you “absolutely must win.”

Carig added, with just a hint of irony, “no dh. i said real base ball. pitcher hits for himself.”

....

Needless to say, Carig’s lineup is mighty fine. As were many of the hundreds of lineups his followers and fellow writers sent in response. I’d like to try my hand at this, and I know full well people aren’t going to agree with my approach.

We’re all operating under the assumption that we’re pulling these players basically from the primes of their careers, as if we mastered time travel. That being said, today’s athletes are worlds better than those of yesteryear. Rickey Henderson in his prime runs laps — literally and figuratively — around Babe Ruth, for example. So would Ronald Acuña Jr., even though we have only seen two seasons out of him so far. My lineup is way more biased towards players of a more recent vintage.

So, who would be in your lineup were you to compile one of this nature?

 

QLE Posted: March 16, 2020 at 12:52 AM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: lineups

 

 

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