The Battle of #6orgs

2011 May 23

Entering the 2010 MLB season, the Seattle Mariners had garnered plenty of hype from the sabermetric-community for their offseason moves, masterminded by perceived genius Jack Zduriencik. Instead of focusing on the on-base machines heralded in Moneyball, the GM known as Jack Z created a team of spectacular fielders who would devour every ball put in play. Great fielding was the new “market inefficiency.”

In their first attempt at MLB organizational rankings — a sort of all-encompassing, forward-looking version of power rankings — Fangraphs named the Mariners the sixth-best organization in baseball, above teams like the Braves, Phillies, and Cardinals. Even with the reasoning behind the ranking, the writers were accused of bias by readers (many of the writers who created the rankings are fans of the Mariners). But the bastion of sabermetrics on the internet wasn’t the only place to buy into the defense-first philosophy, as Sports Illustrated wrote an article about the Mariners explaining the shift towards run prevention.* Even random baseball fans on the internet predicted the M’s to win 86 games and take the AL West title.

*Theo Epstein, the Red Sox’s young star GM, also believes in the power of the glove, considering his signings of Mike Cameron and Carl Crawford the past two years. He is also talked about in the article.

But as the 2010 season unfolded, it was clear that the Mariners were not going anywhere. Chone Figgins, their big offseason signing, was not hitting at all–neither was Casey Kotchman, or Jose Lopez, or anyone else on the entire team. If they wanted to win, the duo of Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee had the impossible task of throwing shutouts practically every time they took the mound. Somewhere along the way, the Twitter tag #6org became the chosen method of mocking the entire situation. I suspect either @samtpage or @willDavidian (correct me if I’m wrong here) was the snarky bastard behind it, and it was glorious. You couldn’t go a day without seeing a pathetic Figgins AVG/OBP/SLG slash line or a hard-luck losing pitching line from Hernandez followed by #6org.

The #6org 2010 Seattle Mariners ended up dead-last in the AL West with a record of 61-101 and scored only 513 runs the entire season. Such offensive ineptitude had not been seen since the inception of the DH. By comparison, the Yankees led the majors with 859 runs scored.

Naturally, when it came time for another go-around with the organizational rankings before this season, Fangraphs revamped their methodology and the Mariners ended up 17th. The team that ranked 6th? The 15-30 Minnesota Twins, who are currently scoring 3.43 runs per game. It’s not quite as horrendous as the 3.17 runs per game the Mariners put up last year, but it’s the worst in baseball.

Is the #6org curse more powerful than the Madden curse or SI jinx? Joe Mauer is battling knee issues and will probably be moved away from catcher sooner rather than later, destroying his positional value, and making his massive contract look much worse. Francisco Liriano may have thrown a no-hitter, but his ERA is 5.73. I guess it doesn’t help that the Twins traded away a competent shortstop in J.J. Hardy just to pay for a set-up man. At least Justin Morneau is finally hitting like a man whose brain isn’t totally concussed.

Starting today, the two teams to be named #6org will battle for overrated supremacy. The pitching matchups, as @CapitolAvenue pointed out to me, could not be any more perfect.

Monday: Jason Vargas vs. Carl Pavano
Tuesday: Doug Fister vs. Nick Blackburn
Wednesday: Erik Bedard vs. Brian Duensing

I’m giddy at the prospect of three strikeouts each from the pitchers not named Bedard.

So which team will be doomed to a shitty season in 2012? Braves? Rockies? Blue Jays? I could see the Rangers dropping from 5th to 6th. If that happened, Josh Hamilton would fall off the wagon and into the coke pile, Neftali Feliz would be stupidly left in the closer role, and Adrian Beltre would hit like he was back in Safeco. At least the Mets have no chance of being named #6org any time soon.

Related posts:

  1. #6org
  2. What Opening Day 2009 Taught Us
  3. “Heroes” Beats “24″ in Ratings Battle