Goldsmith: A baseball lesson to take away from this Mariners season

Jul 17, 2023, 2:26 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodríguez...

Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners reacts during a game against Detroit on July 14, 2023. (Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

No matter how long you’ve been watching baseball, there’s always a new lesson to be learned with each season. That’s the case even if you’re Seattle Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith, who is in his 11th year calling games for the team.

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On Monday, Goldsmith joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy and was asked about a specific lesson to take away from the current Mariners season. Considering the M’s have hovered around .500 in a year where they were expected to return to the playoffs or even take a step forward, it made for an interesting discussion.

The lesson from this Seattle Mariners season

For Goldsmith, it comes down to the fact that while a young player may be expected to improve from one season to the next, it’s not always as simple as that.

“When you look at the Mariners this year, there was so much optimism for this team for so many reasons,” Goldsmith said. “And offensively, you had a number of young players, and I think it’s very easy in this game to assume that (development) is linear – it’s a staircase, right? That a player’s career is a staircase going up. And, ‘Hey, Cal Raleigh did this last year, so in 2023 he’s gonna strike out a little bit less, he’s gonna hit maybe a few more home runs, and he’ll tack on 10 points to his batting average.’ And, ‘Hey, Geno (Eugenio Suárez) last year hit .230- whatever, .240-whatever, hit (31) bombs. He’ll hit almost 30 bombs again.’ And, ‘Julio (Rodríguez), man. He (was) only 21, look at what he did. He was an All-Star, won the Rookie of the Year, put all these great numbers up. If he didn’t land on the injured list, he would have had even better numbers. Man, he’s gonna take that next step up.’ And you can go down the list, right?

“The reality is, and this is not a knock on any of those guys – on Geno, on Julio, on Cal – it’s not how it works. It’s not how it works in most games, most sports, but it’s especially not how it works in this game, in baseball. Although each one of those guys could have taken the next step up and next step forward, there’s no guarantee. Even if they just stayed the same, that would have been impressive. The seasons fluctuate.”

For example

Goldsmith continued his point by sharing a conversation he had with one of his regular broadcast partners, former MLB catcher Dan Wilson, a member of the Mariners Hall of Fame. It centered around the statistic wRC+, or Weighted Created Runs Plus, which measures a player’s offensive output relative to the rest of the league in a given season or career (league average is always 100).

“You know, it’s funny, Dan and I were working a game yesterday on TV, and for like two hours every game all we do is just give each other grief like constantly. And he was making fun of wRC+, which I greatly enjoy,” said Goldsmith, who is known to dig into advanced statistics on the air. “… He was like, ‘Pull up my wRC+, show me what I got.’ And so we went to his Fangraphs page, and Dan played for a long time. We looked at his wRC+ year by year by year – guess what, guys? He’s a Mariners Hall of Famer, and it didn’t go from 80 to 92 to 95 to 98 to 100 to 105 to 120 when he retired. I mean, you got a little bit all over the scatter plot. Like, he popped up 95 in his second-to-final year. I mean, he had one of his best seasons at the very end. Nobody predicted that. But in what maybe some people thought was closer to his prime, after a couple of great seasons, he underperformed (compared to) his previous years in the next couple of seasons. Dan Wilson, the Mariners Hall of Famer.

“So this is how the game works, man, and you can’t assume it. You just can’t assume it.”

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Aaron Goldsmith at this link or in the podcast near the top of this post.

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Goldsmith: A baseball lesson to take away from this Mariners season