Welcome back to the September history watch. Today, we turn our attention to The Worst American League Lineup of Modern Times.
If your first reaction was, "Who's that?" it tells us something:
1) You clearly don't live in the 206 area code.
2) You probably wouldn't know the Space Needle from an egg noodle.
3) And there's an excellent chance that last time you checked, the Mariners' 3-4-5 hitters were Griffey-Buhner-Edgar.
Well, unfortunately, those guys don't show up in Mariners box scores anymore. And even more unfortunately, the hitters who do are leading this 2010 team down the trail to an imminent, just-about-inevitable place in dubious offensive history. Here's what you need to know about that historic quest:
• With only 13 games left in the season, the Mariners have scored 472 runs. That means they still haven't scored as many runs -- for the whole season -- as the Red Sox scored before the All-Star break (481).
• The Yankees and Red Sox both scored their 500th run July 21. It's possible the Mariners might not get to 500 at all. But at their pace, they'll finish with 513. So unless they seriously pick up the pace, they're undoubtedly on the precipice of becoming the lowest-scoring AL team of the entire DH era. By far.
• Since the invention of the DH in 1973, only two AL teams have scored fewer than 550 runs in a full, non-strike season -- Miguel Dilone's 1978 A's (530) and Dave Chalk's 1976 Angels (549). And these Mariners basically have no shot to outscore either of them. To get to 550 runs, they'd have to average six runs a game. And that's kind of unlikely, seeing as how they've scored six (or more) in only eight games since the Fourth of July.
• To outscore those '78 A's and dodge this record, the Mariners have to average 4.54 runs a game. And it's hard to like their chances of doing that, either, since they've scored more than four runs in a game precisely four times all month.
• But this news doesn't get anymore uplifting, because this wouldn't just be an AL record for the DH era. The Mariners are even going to score fewer runs than any National League lineup has totaled in a full season during the same era. The NL low in that span is 531, by Pepe Mangual's 1976 Expos.
• OK, hang on. There's more. The Mariners have an incomprehensible .234 team batting average. So they're neck and neck with the '76 Angels (.235) for the honor of having the lowest average by an AL team in a full season in the DH era. At least, if you add in strike years, Danny Ainge's 1981 Blue Jays (.226) were worse.
• The Mariners also have a .298 team on-base percentage. And they'll be not so delighted to learn that no AL team in the DH era has ever had an OBP under .300 in a full season. The '81 Blue Jays (.286) and Twins (.293) did pull that off during the '81 strike season, at least.
• These Mariners also would need a monster finish to avoid breaking the DH-era AL "record" for games scoring four runs or fewer in a season. They've already kept their run total under five 114 times. And that record is 117, by Todd Cruz's '83 Mariners.
• And, finally, there's a good shot they'll also set the DH-era AL "record" for games scoring three times or fewer. They've done that 94 times already, and the record is 98, by those '78 A's.
So if you've been wondering how Felix Hernandez could have a 12-11 record in a season in which he leads the AL in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched, well, let's just say it isn't his fault. Whose fault is it, then? Well, re-read this blog and get back to us if it isn't clear by now.
Oh, and one more thing: The Mariners are doing all this in a season in which their lineup includes the man who leads the league in hits (Ichiro). That isn't easy. But it's a topic us September History Watchers will take up some other time.
So stay tuned, because the pursuits of history -- great and not-so-great -- will keep coming all month.