A quick look at the superficial stats shows the Mariners are VERY middle-of-the-pack in the American League. What, not impressed? Well, you SHOULD be! I can’t remember the last time the Mariners weren’t last or next-to-last in the usual hitting categories!
- Batting Average: 6th in the A.L. (.247)
- On-Base Percentage: still terrible, but shockingly 9th in the A.L. (.300)
- Slugging: 7th (.403)
- OPS: 7th (.703)
- Home Runs: 4th (19)
- Total Bases: 7th (206)
- Strikeouts: 4th fewest (!)
- Walks: 2nd fewest (frowny face)
I’m sure you’ve noticed what I’ve noticed, but I’m going to recap it anyway. Nelson Cruz has easily been the best hitter on the team, and he owns just about every category they make. Cano and Seager have picked it up to be their usual great selves. Brad Miller has had about the exact opposite of his 2014 April (in that he’s actually been quite good). Austin Jackson hasn’t been total death (and even managed to muscle out his first homer as a Mariner). Seth Smith has been the second coming of John Jaso, and is the only one able to truly work a count to his advantage. Dustin Ackley has been spotty, but useful, and has come up big a time or two.
The only real pieces of dead weight have been LoMo and Zunino (not counting our bench, which has thus far underperformed, but what do you really expect from a bench?). You can argue LoMo has been INCREDIBLY unlucky with hard hit balls hit right at people. To that end, you gotta figure his numbers will pick up. One good LoMo hot streak will put him right where he’s always been (which still isn’t ideal, but at least isn’t a black hole). Then again, I can’t remember the last time I’ve talked about a guy being THIS unlucky. It seems like we’ve been saying this his whole Mariner career! Who IS LoMo, really? He’s a guy with mostly warning track power, a consummate pull hitter who couldn’t beat the shift to save his life, and someone who should probably walk more, but obviously doesn’t.
THE GUY HAS ZERO EXTRA BASE HITS, THREE WEEKS INTO THE SEASON!
I mean, what is that? Mike Zunino has been the absolute worst, most lost player at the plate this year by a thousand miles and he still has a couple homers and a double to his credit. I’m not super convinced that it’ll ever click for him at the plate, but I suppose that’s not the worst thing in the world. Jay Buhner struck out a million times and was only a .254 hitter in his career, but he’s still one of the best power hitters we’ve ever had. I feel like if you put Zunino in the Kingdome, he’d have Jay Buhner’s hitting career. The fact that he’s stuck in Safeco is automatically going to reduce his numbers pretty drastically; but, if I can get 25-30 homers out of him per year, I’m all right with that.
In short, this is an offense that can get the job done. If Mike Zunino is your worst everyday batter, you can have worse problems. I’ll take my worst batter who will still mash a ball 450 feet on occasion and play solid defensive catcher. Everyone else will be/should be fine.
Now, just got to get that pitching warmed up, and you might see a team go on a nice little run.