Results tagged ‘ Seattle Mariners ’
It doesn’t take long for a team to reach down to the minors for help when a single position has combined to hit just .117/.198/.117 over 119 at-bats, without a single extra-base hit and just six RBI. The Seattle Mariners seem likely to give up on the stellar defense that Brendan Ryan provides to get a more complete player. Enter Nick Franklin.
In his minor league career, Nick Franklin has produced some impressive numbers, especially out of a middle infielder:
The numbers from 2010 jump out immediately. At just 19, Franklin ripped 23 home runs, smacked 22 doubles and seven triples, and stole 25 bases. You may expect those numbers out of a Mariners prospect at High Desert, the club’s High-A, California League affiliate, but not in the Midwest League. Those powerful numbers tend to be reserved for the Giancarlo Stanton-like players of the world in Low-A, like Miguel Sano this season.
Since 2010, though, Franklin has been all over the place. It seemed like the club may have rushed him to Double-A in 2011, but he held his own in a 21-game trial there, prior to opening the 2012 season back in Jackson. He posted solid gap power and was promoted to Triple-A at the tender age of 21. This season, Franklin is once again raking. While he doesn’t seem to have dynamic, game-changing power (as he previewed in 2010), he still has a major league bat and solid plate discipline, which seems to have taken a leap this season.
What to Watch For:
Franklin’s gap power would play well in Seattle and he would be a nice, switch-hitting addition to a predominantly left-handed lineup. He isn’t going to match Ryan’s defensive skills, but who cares when he could hit a home run or a double in his first game, something Mariners’ shortstops haven’t done yet this season. The Mariners need more offensive production, just ask Felix Hernandez.
Why the Mariners Need Franklin:
Franklin would immediately become an asset to the Mariners. He has been playing both shortstop and second base for Tacoma, so if he isn’t replacing Ryan, he could replace the struggling Dustin Ackley, as well. Franklin would become a must-add in AL-only league and dynasty league fantasy nerds, if they didn’t know about him already, would be wise to jump all over him now.
It could happen before I click the publish button, or the club could wait until mid-June to avoid any future arbitration issues. The sooner the better for Mariner fans and the ability for the club to win some games.
Move over Alicia Keys, these boys are on fire in the month of May:
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Texas Rangers
.347/.407/.796, 17-49, 11 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 8 RBI
Long overlooked as an asset in the Rangers order, Moreland appears to be establishing himself as a valuable piece to a Hamilton-less Rangers offense. His left-handed power is needed in the middle of an order that features Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz along with switch-hitting DH Lance Berkman. Moreland is 27 and in the midst of his prime. While he does feature a pretty ugly .662 career OPS against left-handed pitching, that number has bumped up to .789 in 2013, so he could still make an interesting career out of playing in Texas. He could certainly turn his recent hot streak into a total breakout.
.340/.393/.720, 17-50, 10 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB
After taking the world by storm last season, Trout started the season slower than some fantasy nerds would have liked, posting a .261/.333/.432 triple slash in the first month of the season. He is picking things up, though, in May, displaying the power and speed that made baseball enthusiasts drool last season. Trout could be on his way to posting numbers like this over the rest of the season. Just imagine what he would be doing if Josh Hamilton was alive and breathing for the Angels…if only he could pitch, the Angels might not look like such an embarrassment.
.522/.542/.783, 12-23, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB
Do you need a sleeper? The Pirates are pretty loaded in the outfield with Andrew McCutchen in center and Starling Marte in left; however, right field is a little…Travis Snider-y. Snider is still just 25 but he is under-performing, again, as the Pirates primary right fielder in 2013. His .267/.347/.356 is very weak and Tabata is heating up with the weather. Tabata, himself just 24, is another floundering former top prospect, but his ability to use the gaps and his speed would make him an asset in real-life and fantasy baseball. Clint Hurdle is an interesting manager, to say the least, so it will be interesting to see if he sticks with a strict platoon or gives Tabata a chance.
Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
.447/.552/.660, 21-47, 13 R, 10 2B, 5 RBI
Mauer continues to prove that his 2009 power surge and MVP season was an anomaly. The Twins are floating around .500 due to Mauer’s production and a whole lot of crappy pitching. If the club was serious about contending, they probably would have done something about Vance Worley and Kevin Correia being their No.1 and No.2 starter prior to the season. With a lot of their talent in their 30′s, including Mauer, the club will be hard pressed for a quick recovery. Oswaldo Arcia has been a nice addition but to even float around being mediocre, Mauer may have to hit .447 over the rest of the 2013 season. He’s hot and he’s a hitting machine.
Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners: 2-0, 3 GS, 0.82 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 22 IP, 20:3 K:BB
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: 1-0, 3 GS, 0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 20:5 K:BB
Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox: 2-0, 3 GS, 1.16 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 23.1 IP, 19:2 K:BB
Jordan Zimmerman, RHP, Washington Nationals: 3-0, 3 GS, 1.19 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 22.2 IP, 20:2 K:BB
Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: 3-0, 3 GS, 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 16:10 K:BB
Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: 2-0, 2 GS, 0.60 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 15 IP, 18:1 K:BB
Scott Feldman, RHP, Chicago Cubs: 2-0, 3 GS, 1.23 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 22 IP, 21:5 K:BB
- Why the Texas Rangers need to stick with Mitch Moreland is in Baltimore (sportsblogs.star-telegram.com)
- Beltre and Moreland lead Rangers past Athletics in 10 innings (miamiherald.com)
- Closing Time: The case for Mitch Moreland (sports.yahoo.com)
Should you take Justin Verlander, David Price, or Felix Hernandez as the first pitcher in your fantasy league? Well, the Mariners haven’t helped King Felix win many games due to their inability to score runs, Tampa Bay has a pretty pathetic offense, and Verlander has Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to back him up. While Verlander, Price, and Hernandez will post similar ERA, WHIP, and strikeout totals, Verlander will tend to get the nod due to the added wins.
In 2012, Cliff Lee was 6-9 over 30 starts and 211 innings. He didn’t win his first game until July 4, his 14th start, after winning 17 games in 2011. Lee has already won two games in 2013, something that he couldn’t say he did last season until July 31 last year.
This year, the name is Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has lost four games already in 2013. In 2012, he didn’t lose his fourth game until July 6. While wins are quite overrated in the statistical world, when a pitcher isn’t getting them, those who follow the sport feel like they may be doing something wrong.
Is Strasburg doing anything wrong?
Over his career, Strasburg has won 67.7 percent of his decisions while posting a no-decision percentage of 31.2 percent. Nearly one-third of his starts have led to no-decisions, so in a given year, based on his first 45 starts of his career and 33 stars in a 162-game season, Strasburg would average a 15-7 record, a 2.93 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, and a 4.67 K:BB. This season, Strasburg’s 3.16 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and a 3.5 K:BB.
While Strasburg’s walks seem to be up a bit, his peripheral statistics show that there isn’t much that he can be held accountable for. His xFIP is up to 3.86 (his career xFIP is 2.68), so there may be something there, but most of the blame can be attributed to the bats when he starts. Only Kevin Slowey (0.75) and Joe Saunders (1.20) have lower run support than Strasburg (1.40) this season. At 1-4, Strasburg is a fantastic buy-low option in fantasy leagues for anyone unintelligent enough to trade him right now for this reason.
Jeff Samardzija (3.03 ERA vs. 2.00 RS)
Trevor Cahill (3.60 ERA vs. 2.00 RS)
Madison Bumgarner (1.87 ERA vs. 2.60 RS)
Clayton Kershaw (2.14 ERA vs. 2.80 RS)
In 2012, Bryce Harper was the Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in his first season in MLB, having collected all of 536 plate appearances in the minor leagues before getting his final call to Washington. After a season of tremendous hype, production, and accolades, how can Bryce Harper follow-up?
It is impossible to predict future results in MLB.
No one could predict the injury that Conigliaro suffered. No one could predict Mel Ott hitting 42 home runs in his second full season (1929), Al Kaline hitting .340 in his second full season (1955), or Ty Cobb hitting .350 in his second full season (1907) based on their age-19 seasons above.
George Davis, whose 1890 season was not very statistically aligned with Harper’s 2012 season due to a lack of power in the dead-ball era, has the greatest Similarity Score, 930, at Baseball Reference, when comparing Harper’s rookie season to any other 19-year-old in MLB history. Mel Ott was second, 928, and his second full season would mean that Harper is about to explode, as Ott posted a .328/.449/.635 with the aforementioned 42 home runs and a whopping 151 RBI for the New York Giants. However, using Similarity Scores for statistics alone and not factoring in age, Harper’s 2012 season was most similar to Bill Howerton, a career .274/.364/.472 hitter over all of four seasons in the majors.
No one could predict the injury that Conigliaro suffered. No one could predict Mel Ott hitting 42 home runs in his second full season (1929), Al Kaline hitting .340 in his second full season (1955), or Ty Cobb hitting .350 in his second full season (1907) based on their age-19 seasons above. There is no perfect way to determine how great a player will become, but player values are determined through WAR. So, based on their age-19 seasons:
|Name||Season||Fangraphs WAR||Baseball Reference WAR|
|Ken Griffey, Jr.||1989||2.8||2.9|
If WAR is truly the greatest way to explain overall player values, then Harper had the best season of any 19-year-old in the history of baseball, and if the careers of any of the players named along with him in this article are an sign of where he may end up, then Bryce Harper is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest players in the history of MLB.
Baseball nerds are looking at all kinds of statistics that weren’t listed on the back of a baseball card when we were growing up. With the newer FIP, BABIP, and WAR statistics that have become a part of analysis of player abilities, it seems to be easier to project rebound candidates, potential breakouts, or potential flops based on these newer, sabermetric-based statistics. After looking at pitchers, lets take at look at some hitters:
BABIP Winners and Losers for 2013
Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) is an interesting statistic. FanGraphs.com has some really useful information on BABIP in their glossary and Tristan H. Cockcroft (awesome name, bro) had an interesting piece on how to use BABIP when putting your fantasy team together. Both discuss variables in how the statistic can be flawed, as Fangraphs focused on defense, luck, and talent level, while Cockcroft focused on “raw hitting skills, raw pitching skills, type of contact, and quality of contact.”
Regardless of those variables, the fact remains that, as Cockcroft says, the league average in 2012 was .297, while Fangraphs goes further, stating:
The average BABIP for hitters is around .290 to .310. If you see any player that deviates from this average to an extreme, they’re likely due for regression.
However, hitters can influence their BABIPs to some extent. For example, speedy hitters typically have high career BABIP rates (like Ichiro and his .357 career BABIP), so don’t expect all players to regress to league average.
For the purpose of this piece, however, the extreme deviations from normal are taken into consideration.
Hitters to Target
Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets: If you search this site, you’ll see that I have a bit of a man crush on Davis. In 2012, Davis managed to hit .227/3.08/.462 with 32 home runs and 90 RBI, all while posting a BABIP of just .246. The .271/.369/.460 line, 26 home runs, and 41 doubles over his first 750 plate appearances shows that Davis is quite capable of becoming an offensive force. The regression in batting average can be related to the Valley Fever that sapped his energy in spring training of last season, but with an increase in BABIP, Davis could become a .270 hitter with 35-40 home runs, even while playing half of his games at Citi Field for the Mets. Davis will turn 26 in late March and is well on his way to a huge rebound or breakout in 2013.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals: Sophomore slump…yeah right. Hosmer hit .232/.304/.359 with 14 home runs in 2012, while posting a .255 BABIP. He increased his walk rate from 6 percent in his rookies season to 9.4 percent last year, while maintaining a line drive percent (18.7 percent in 2011, 18.5 percent in 2012). It just seems like the ground ball percentage, which jumped from 49.7 to 53.6 percent, played a role in his huge decrease in BABIP, which was at .314 in 2011. Hosmer will play the entire 2013 season at the age of 23. With great plate discipline and tremendous athleticism, he is a tremendous name to grab in hopes of a potential All-Star campaign. His early spring results (.391/.462/.696) could be an indication of such a breakout, as Hosmer heads off to take Mark Teixiera’s place on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Jemile Weeks, 2B, Oakland Athletics: Weeks is an interesting player, having thrived in 2011, much like Hosmer, posting a .303/.340/.421 line, before crashing to a .221/.305/.304 line last season. Weeks has tremendous speed, but he has been thrown out stealing 16 times in 54 attempts, a 70 percent success rate, which has been about the norm throughout his career, as he was 41 for 55 (74 percent) in the minors. Weeks had nine infield hits in 2011 but just eight in 2012 in 74 more plate appearances, while his BABIP fell from .350 in 2011 to .256 last season. With a drastic increase in his walk rate (from 4.8 percent in 2011 to 9.8 percent in 2012) and the potential for a rebound in his BABIP to even .290, Weeks would see a solid increase in overall production. However, the Athletics have reloaded their roster, trading for Jed Lowrie, signing Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, while welcoming back Scott Sizemore from injury. With so many options, Weeks needs to start quickly. If he can find a way to use the speed that he has with the ability to utilize slap the ball all over the field, as he did in 2011, Weeks will be valuable to the A’s and fantasy baseball owners.
Justin Smoak, 1B, Seattle Mariners: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but…this is the year that Justin Smoak breaks out!!! Smoak may be one of the most unlucky hitters in baseball, as his career BABIP is just .256. A career line of .223/.306/.377 in 1,421 plate appearances could say that Smoak is what he is…bad. However, over the last month of the season, Smoak hit .341/.426/.580 with five home runs, 11 RBI, and a 13:13 K:BB in 101 plate appearances. This spring, Smoak is hitting .500/.556/1.000 with two home runs in his first 16 at-bats. After posting another low BABIP in 2012, .242, while seeing his walk and strikeout rates hold to around his career norms. Smoak needs to stay hot after the Mariners added Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, and Kendrys Morales to the club this winter, each of whom could slide into a DH/1B/LF role, which would limit Smoak’s playing time.
Hitters to Avoid
Dexter Fowler, OF, Colorado Rockies: Fowler turns 27 in late March, the magic number for a prime breakout. In 2012, Fowler posted an absurd .390 BABIP, while compiling a .300/.389/.474 line, 18 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, and 12 stolen bases, the definition of a box score filler. He has always had solid plate discipline, as his 12.8 percent walk rate and .364 career on-base percentage show, so is he for real? Maybe this is just who he is, as he posted a .351 BABIP in 2009, .328 in 2010, and .354 in 2011 before the jump to .390 last season; however, .390 is so unrealistic and “lucky”, isn’t it? Even if Fowler manages to maintain his career .353 BABIP, he’ll see a slight decline in his overall numbers. I’m a big fan of Fowler’s, but expecting him to duplicate his BABIP is unreasonable, though he could add enough power with his on-base skills to be very useful for the Rockies and fantasy geeks alike.
Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers: Jackson is the poster boy for inflated BABIP and what they can do with inflation and deflation. Check out these statistics:
|162 Game Avg.||644||109||180||31||11||11||56||22||62||178||.280||.346||.416||.761|
In 2010, Jackson’s BABIP was: .396
In 2011, Jackson’s BABIP was: .340
In 2012, Jackson’s BABIP was .371
While Jackson has a career BABIP of .370, if he reverts to his undisciplined, free swinging ways of 2010 and 2011 (when he had strikeout rates of 25.2 and 27.1 percent), he could see a large decline in his overall numbers, similar to the drop-off in 2011. However, with his gains in power (career-high 16 home runs) and his walk rate (10.8 percent), he, too, will still have some value, especially hitting in front of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants: Posey was the NL MVP, and with good reason, posting a .336/.408/.549 line in 2012. The only issue could be that batting average, which could have seen a huge bump from Posey’s .368 BABIP. Previously, he had posted BABIPs of .315 in 2010 and .326 in 2011. While Posey does have some speed, will he be a catcher capable of 17 infield hits every season? While he is a very special talent, Posey may not repeat his incredible 2012 totals, especially if Brandon Belt solidifies himself as an everyday first baseman. Will they sit Belt if he is having a breakout season so that Posey can take a day off behind the plate? Posey is still the top catcher available in fantasy leagues and the top offensive catcher in baseball, with the ability to post numbers that only Matt Wieters, Salvador Perez, or Carlos Santana seem capable of reaching, but can he continue to post an extremely high BABIP going forward? For that reason alone, be cautious in putting too much stock into the superstar catcher.
The Arizona Diamondbacks just couldn’t help themselves. They just had to get rid of 25-year-old right fielder Justin Upton this offseason, and they finally found the right deal, which appeared to be any deal when the sent the potential MVP-candidate to Atlanta, with third baseman Chris Johnson, for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, and Zeke Spruill on Thursday afternoon.
Upton, a two-time All-Star who finished 4th in NL MVP voting in 2011, is due $38.5 million between 2013 and 2015 before he reaches free agency. Considering the Diamondbacks thought that Cody Ross was worth $9.5 million per season from 2014 through 2016 (when he’ll turn 35), it seems completely unreasonable that the team felt that Upton wasn’t worth $12.8 million per season over the next three years before he turns 27 and can cash in again. Ross had a fine 2012 season, but is the potential that Upton brings not worth the extra $3.3 million that they would have paid Upton per season, had they not signed Ross to join an already-crowded outfield?
While B.J. Upton has been quite unpredictable when it comes to his consistency, he was still worth a five-year, $75.25 million deal this winter. It just seems unreasonable for the Diamondbacks to have rid themselves of the talented, young slugger, given his 108 home runs, 80 stolen bases, and .832 OPS in his six seasons, Kirk Gibson, the Diamondbacks’ manager, or Kevin Towers, their General Manager, must have had some personal belief that Upton wasn’t going to improve.
Maybe someone in Arizona should read what Keith Law thinks of Upton’s 2012 season:
Upton has some of the best bat speed and the strongest wrists in the game, generating hard contact and easy power, similar to Andrew McCutchen when he’s squaring up the ball consistently. In 2012, Upton’s timing was off for much of the year, and he was popping up a lot of pitches on the inner half that, the year before, he would have driven to the left-center gap or out of the park. Much of this probably was tied to a thumb injury he suffered in the third game of the season but never addressed with time off. Hand injuries of any sort tend to sap power by reducing a hitter’s ability to make hard contact, and that was a major issue for Upton all year.
Martin Prado is a solid major-leaguer, one of the better contact hitters in all of MLB, but he certainly shouldn’t have been a centerpiece to a Justin Upton trade. Randall Delgado, who turns 23 in February, has a solid 3.95 ERA over 127.2 innings and he has the potential to become a solid No.2 or No.3 starter for Arizona. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the Diamondbacks will flip Nick Ahmed, with a pitching prospect, to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello. Spruill has back-end starter or long relief in his future, while Drury has struggled to make consistent contact and lacks plate discipline.
The package that the Diamondbacks received from Atlanta was a far cry from the offer that the Seattle Mariners supposedly made (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, and Stephen Pryor), but you can’t blame Arizona since Upton had the ability to veto the trade, and he did.
The Diamondbacks have made some interesting moves this winter, dumping Upton today and Trevor Bauer earlier this winter in their three-way deal with Cincinnati and Cleveland. Were these deals purging of players that weren’t willing to mold to the goals of management at the expense of acquiring equal talent in return? It certainly looks that way on paper.
Upton apparently needed a change of scenery and the Diamondbacks seemed to do whatever it took, even taking a lesser offer, to help make that happen. The team was forced to make the deal when they signed Cody Ross and as the season crept closer, Upton’s value and his potential suitors seemed to be dwindling. Unfortunately, this offer was probably the best that they could do, and it is another example of indecisiveness and a lack of direction for a team that appeared to have built a strong minor league system to match production at the major league level in recent seasons.
Last year, the Seattle Mariners finished 75-87, last place in the AL West, a spot that they have held for seven of the last ten years. What are the Mariners doing to build a contender?
The club is loaded with pitching prospects, like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer, and James Paxton, and they have collected some fine offensive prospects, like Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, and Brad Miller along the way. With Jesus Montero being added last season and the ascension of Dustin Ackley to the majors, you would think that the Mariners were building for a run in 2015.
However, that can’t be the case after the club has traded for Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, both free agents after the 2013 season. While the club gave up John Jaso to get Morse and Jason Vargas to get Morales, the Mariners left themselves with some question marks.
With Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, and Blake Beaven penciled into the rotation, the club may have to rely on Hector Noesi, Hultzen, or Paxton in the rotation to start the year. Noesi was 2-12 with a 5.82 ERA for the M’s in 2012, Hultzen was just 1-4 with a 5.92 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts in 2012, and Paxton would be jumping to the majors from Double-A. While Vargas isn’t close to being considered an ace, the Mariners will have a tough time replacing the 217 innings and 3.85 ERA that he provided last year.
After trading Jaso to Oakland, the Mariners only have Jesus Montero at catcher. Montero, who turned 23 in November, caught in just 56 games in 2012, throwing out 17 percent of base runners and posting a -8 Rtot (runs below average that he was worth defensively). While his bat has great potential, Montero is not an everyday catcher at the major league level.
There are two examples of their everyday lineup that I have found:
C: Montero C: Montero
1B: Morse 1B: Smoak
2B: Ackley 2B: Ackley
3B: Seager 3B: Seager
SS: Ryan SS: Ryan
LF: Ibanez LF: Morse
CF: Gutierrez CF: Gutierrez
RF: Saunders RF: Saunders
DH: Morales DH: Morales
Example one is eliminating Justin Smoak from the equation. Smoak has over 1,200 at-bats and has a career slash of .223/.306/.377 line, but he is just 26 years old and he posted a .341/.426/.580 in September, showing a glimpse of what he can do when he is healthy, and he has battled a thumb issue for the last couple of seasons.
Example two eliminates Raul Ibanez from the lineup. Ibanez has had great success in Seattle, having played 10 of his 17 seasons with the Mariners, but at the age of 41, he may just be a situational talent.
The Mariners could really use a catcher. If the club was able to deal Smoak to Boston for Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway, the Mariners could then move Montero to DH, Morales to first, and Morse can play left field. The Red Sox only have Mauro Gomez at first base right now, so the deal would make sense for both clubs, as the Sox have David Ross and whatever catcher they don’t trade to roster.
The M’s could also rush Mike Zunino, who was the top college player in last year’s MLB draft. Zunino could take over at catcher, allowing for the same moves with Morales and Morse as above, while the club could keep Smoak around in case of an injury. Zunino had 51 at-bats in Double-A last year, so he could use some more seasoning in the minors, but he could be a better option behind the plate than Montero already.
Regardless of the moves at catcher that the Mariners could make, the additions that the club has made have not been stellar.
Morse has a powerful bat but he has issues making contact, having posted a 223:52 K:BB while hitting 49 home runs over 928 at-bats over the last two seasons. Turning 31 years old in March, Morse has two seasons with a WAR over 1.0 (1.2 in 2010 and 3.1 in 2011), so one has to wonder if his 2011 season (with 31 home runs and a .910 OPS) was his peak.
Ibanez is not a player that a rebuilding team needs. His age and declining skills limit his potential.
Morales rebounded nicely after missing nearly two years due to injury, posting a .787 OPS. In 2009, Morales posted a .924 OPS and he had an .833 OPS in 2010 prior to his celebratory injury. Is the drop in production due to his injury, timing issues due to being away from the game, or pressing to hit at the levels that he did in 2009? Can he reach those numbers when he is playing half of his games in Seattle?
Add in the interest that the Mariners have in Justin Upton and the supposed offer (Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Stephen Pryor, and Charlie Furbush) that they made, and the team seemingly has no long-term or short-term direction. The Mariners pitching, as it stands, is questionable at best. If the team is rebuilding, why would they offer two of their top five prospects instead of cashing in on any of their veterans that have value, even Felix Hernandez?
While John Jaso and Jason Vargas aren’t superstars, you have to wonder if the club would have been better off with the two players still on their roster. While they wouldn’t have made many moves to improve upon their last place finish from 2012, the Mariners wouldn’t have question marks all over the field like they do right now.
Here are some guys who have been playing extremely well since the All-Star break:
Buster Posey, C, Giants
.443/.485/.705, 7 2B, 3 HR, 18 RBI in 61 AB
David Freese, 3B, Cardinals
.468/.583/.702, 5 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI in 47 AB
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics
.423/.461/.718, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB in 71 AB
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
.424/.513/.667, 4 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBI in 66 AB
Mike Trout, OF, Angels
.394/.463/.775, 5 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 5 SB in 71 AB
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies
.381/.394/.683, 6 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB in 63 AB
Josh Willingham, OF, Twins
.300/.402/.657, 1 2B, 8 HR, 19 RBI in 70 AB
Ryan Ludwick, OF, Reds
.321/.387/.768, 5 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 18 RBI in 56 AB
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals
.384/.444/.753, 6 2B, 7 HR, 15 RBI in 73 AB
Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Reds
12 G, 11 SV, 11.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 H, 24:2 K:BB
David Price, LHP, Rays
3-0 in 4 starts, 1.91 ERA, 28.1 IP, 36:8 K:BB
Jason Vargas, LHP, Mariners
4-0 in 4 starts, 2.00 ERA, 27 IP, 14:10 K:BB
Ben Sheets, RHP, Braves
3-0 in 3 starts, 0.50 ERA, 18 IP, 15:5 K:BB
It is early and top prospects are adjusting, like Bryce Harper and his current .222/.276/.333 slash in Triple-A, while guys you’ve possibly never heard of are posting some eye-popping numbers. Here is a look at some of those guys performing well early on.
Brad Miller, SS, Mariners, High-A
.371/.463/.914, 13 for 35, 12 R, 3 2B, 2 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 9/6 K/BB
Miller is a lefty swinging college bat out of Clemson. He is playing the whole season at the age of 22, and he should be advanced and hitting well, but the California League may result in Miller becoming a legend. Miller is now hitting .398 in 88 professional at bats, so he is someone to monitor this year, even if he has Nick Franklin ahead of him in the Mariners system at short.
Alen Hanson, 2B, Pirates, Low-A
.412/.474/.824, 14 for 34, 11 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB, 6/4 K/BB
Henson is a long way off, but he has a solid eye and solid speed, while seemingly spraying the ball all over the field. He is a switch hitter and he looks like he could be a potential leadoff hitter for the Bucs down the road. Neil Walker is under team control until 2017, but if he becomes too expensive through arbitration, Pittsburgh could toss the job Henson’s way in 2015.
Jose Fernandez, RHP, Marlins, Low-A
1-0, 1.64 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 11 IP, 5 H, 18/4 K/BB
Fernandez is a known name as the Marlins first round pick from 2011. The youngster from Cuba is a high upside arm that turns 20 in July. He could be a fast mover in the Marlins system, especially if he keeps pitching like he has in his first two starts.
Cody Buckel, RHP, Rangers, High-A
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 10 IP, 4 H, 16/3 K/BB
Buckel has only thrown 111 2/3 innings but he now has a 145/31 K/BB. He is another chip in an absolutely loaded Rangers system. He’ll be 20 in June, but he seems to be picking up where he left off from last season when he posted a 2.61 ERA and 120/27 K/BB 23 games (17 starts).
Andrew Chafin, RHP, Diamondbacks, High-A
2-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 11 IP, 5 H, 18/2 K/BB
The California League eats pitchers for breakfast, so when a guy dominates there, like Tyler Skaggs did last year, you need to take notice. Chafin is a college arm, so he’ll be 22 this year, and he had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed the entire season. The Kent State product was the 43rd pick in the 2011 draft and he does seem to have the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, with a plus fastball and slider. If he develops his change, he could become much more.
A.J. Griffin, RHP, Athletics, Double-A
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.36 WHIP, 11 IP, 2 H, 16/2 K/BB
Griffin is 24, a 2010 13th round pick out of San Diego by the A’s. In 2011, Griffin pitched at four levels, finishing with an 11-7 record, 3.47 ERA, 160 2/3 innings pitched, and a 156/32 K/BB. Not overly impressive until you look at his splits. He was impressive early on, posting a 9-3 record, 2.71 ERA, 122 2/3 innings pitched, and 128/19 K/BB between 20 Low-A and High-A starts. He didn’t fare as well at the higher levels (2-4, 5.92 ERA), which is why he’s back in Double-A this year. He has solid breaking stuff and very good control, so he could be a back-end starter, possibly a Joe Blanton-like innings eater.