Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 3/8/13
Sometimes it’s worth unpacking something that seems like it’s fairly cut and dry. Like, for example, the Mariners are showing quite a bit of power in spring training right now, but it seems like folly to put too much stock in those numbers. That statement alone can send you on a journey. As of Thursday morning, the Seattle Mariners had hit 30 home runs this spring. The second-place team, the Cleveland Indians, had hit only 21. No other team had 20. In three times as many games last year, the Tigers lead Spring Training with 46 home runs. Then again, the San Diego Padres lead the National League last season so there’s clue number one that this power surge may not be such a big deal. (The Padres only hit more home runs than two teams in baseball last regular season). But the Mariners tied for 14th in spring training home runs last year, and they’ve already hit more home runs than they did then. The new acquisitions must be working. Break up the Mariners. Except that weather is a big part of power. And Arizona doesn’t have much in common with Seattle. Check out the average temperature by city last season: City Ave Temp City Ave Temp sfn 63.3 ana 73.2 oak 63.4 col 73.5 sea 63.7 mil 73.9 chn 68.5 pit 74 bos 68.9 hou 74.2 cha 68.9 phi 74.5 sdn 69.6 cin 75.6 cle 69.9 mia 76.7 tor 69.9 sln 76.8 min 70.8 was 77.2 det 71.6 bal 77.5 nyn 71.9 kca 77.9 tba 72.1 atl 80.2 nya 72.2 ari 81.9 lan 72.9 flo 83 tex 86.3 There’s Arizona, all the way near the warmest part of the country, and Seattle over there by the coldest part of the country. Physics professor Robert Adair found that ten degrees of air temperature meant four extra feet of batted ball distance, so this means something. Jeff Zimmerman agreed, or he found that those same ten degrees meant 4.2 feet of distance. Our own site found a relationship between batted ball distance and home runs per fly ball, so this is meaningful stuff. It’s not some ‘heavy air’ thing either. If you bucket games into temperatures as Zimmerman did, you find that the ball goes 274 feet in Seattle when it’s colder than 65 degrees, and 277 in the rest of the country at that temperature. When it’s over 62 degrees, the ball goes 279 feet in Seattle and 282 feet otherwise. The effect due to temperature is more stark than any effect due to humidity. So it really looks like Arizona’s atmosphere is conducive to power and Seattle’s isn’t. But did you see Carson Cistulli post about spring training run environments and how there are *fewer* home runs in spring training then there are in the regular season? That’s weird. Maybe it’s because it’s colder in Arizona in spring than your average mid-summer park? It’s 69 degrees there this year. That’s way colder than the seasonal average. It’s been 79 degrees the last two Marches in Phoenix, though. Either way, 69 is still than Seattle, most days. It can’t all be about weather. The studies looking at relationships between spring statistics and the regular season have found that component stats like strikeout and walk rates are more predictive than overall stats and in-season studies have found similar things about samples during the regular schedule. It takes a long time to know a player’s true-talent power level. So if we were going to say something about the Mariners and their power this coming season, we’d have to first be able to say that the new parts will definitely show more power than the old parts. We do have, as ammunition, ZiPs projected isolated slugging numbers for next season, and a crude depth chart, too: 2012 Mariners ISO 2013 Mariners (ZiPs) C John Jaso 0.180 C Jesus Montero 0.144 Miguel Olivo 0.159 Kelly Shoppach 0.149 DH Jesus Montero 0.126 DH Kendrys Morales 0.181 Mike Carp 0.128 1B Justin Smoak 0.147 1B Justin Smoak 0.153 2B Dustin Ackley 0.102 2B Dustin Ackley 0.126 Chone Figgins 0.090 3B Kyle Seager 0.164 3B Kyle Seager 0.132 SS Brendan Ryan 0.084 SS Brendan Ryan 0.078 Robert Andino 0.085 LF Casper Wells 0.168 LF Raul Ibanez 0.162 Jason Bay 0.130 CF Michael Saunders 0.185 CF Franklin Gutierrez 0.130 Franklin Gutierrez 0.160 Michael Saunders 0.150 RF Ichiro Suzuki 0.092 RF Michael Morse 0.162 Team 0.135 Looks like a few upgrades and a few downgrades and maybe a little nudge in the right direction. It’s no Slam Dunk Solution ™. But then there’s John Dewan’s rule: in 2009, he showed in his Stat of the Week newsletter that players who beat their career slugging percentage by more than 200 points in Spring Training had more than a 60% chance at beating their career slugging percentage during the regular season (mininimum 200 regular season at-bats and 40 Spring Training at-bats). Does anyone satisfy his rule right now? Quite a few: Raul Ibanez, Franklin Gutierrez, Brendan Ryan, Justin Smoak, Jason Bay, Jesus Montero, Casper Wells and Michael Saunders. Take out everyone definitively past their power peak — why would Jason Bay show a power surge beyond his career rates, at his age — and you get Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero. Those guys are maybe halfway to maybe showing something that could have a 60% likelihood of carrying over into the season. At this point, things have gotten weird. The weather is some sort of factor, in a power-dampening way. The level of competition in spring training is a factor, also suggesting the team power surge is a mirage. The roster upheaval is a factor, and it seems like a positive, but the players doing the best this spring — doing so in the most believable way at least — were all on the team last year. It’s probably not the new guys. We’ll have to see about the fences. It seems unlikely that this Mariner power surge will travel north. And we might have thought so from the beginning, but it was fun checking it out anyway. Maybe three young men and a set of new fences will make a grand impact against the odds.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Is Madison Bumgarner a bully?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Alabama’s opening week starting QB is transferring

Cubs sign Theo Epstein to five-year extension

Marlins players surrounded Jose Fernandez’s hearse during its procession

Jason Garrett: Dez Bryant has hairline fracture in knee

Newspaper runs insensitive headline following Mets win

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Curt Schilling plans to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018

WATCH: Tebow homers on first pitch he sees in first game

Report: Garoppolo still dealing with shoulder pain, mobility

J.J. Watt placed on IR, reportedly expected to miss rest of 2016

Nationals GM: Strasburg ‘unlikely to pitch in NLDS’

Nebraska regent wants players kicked off team for kneeling during anthem

WNBA semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

2016 Ryder Cup preview: Five things to watch this weekend

Ryan Kesler disappointed with lack of excitement at World Cup

Lesser known MMA fighters who could be ready for the WWE

Box Score: 9/28 - Bosh, FIFA, Ali and Mangenius

Geno Smith deletes Instagram post possibly critical of Jets

Most glaring flaw for each MLB playoff contender

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WNBA semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

To save his legacy Chris Bosh must first protect his health

What the NBA (and world) looked like before Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan

A fond farewell to Vin Scully

So where will the ACC football championship be played?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker