Throughout the season, the Mariners have been about as up and down as you can imagine. That’s to be expected with several players with limited major league experience playing. Our pitching has been phenomenal and our hitting has been, well, less phenomenal. But with less than a dozen games left, we’re going to take a look at who have been the studs and who have been the duds.
Do you want the good news? Or the bad news? Well too bad, because we’re starting off with the bad news.
Austin Jackson, Chris Denorfia, and Kendrys Morales
It’s sad, because there’s something that each of these players share. Unfortunately, that commonality is that they were all acquired at the deadline to bolster (ugh) our lineup. While many people (as well as myself) praised Zduriencik for these moves, none of them have yet to work out. In fact, I still stand behind the moves. They were the exact type of moves a team like the Mariners needed to make. They didn’t sacrifice their future by parting with a Paxton or Walker, and they didn’t stand pat.
Kendrys has been the worst, at -0.8 WAR with the Mariners. As a DH and sometimes first baseman, you have to be able to hit and man has he not hit. He’s triple slashing .211/.276/.350 with a 78 wRC+. He’s hit for hardly any power and he’s been a mainstay in the cleanup spot since he’s gotten here. Besides his bat, he brings negative value as a fielder and baserunner so hitting is obviously essential for him. Every time I see him in the lineup in the cleanup spot and starting over LoMo I want to give him and Lloyd both the Miguel Olivo treatment. We only gave up Stephen Pryor for him so it’s not quite the end of the world, but he’s been worse than replacement level at one of the easiest positions to fill in the MLB.
Next worse, Chris Denorfia. While being a plus defender in the corners for us, Denorfia hasn’t been able to hit worth a lick. Up until this point in his career he specialized in hitting the crap out of lefties. Now, he pretty much only brings value as a late game defensive replacement or last minute starter. Not only that but he looks like an uncle, whatever that means. Somewhat ironically Denorfia just had a defensive miscue that led to two unearned runs being scored against Paxton. Had he not committed the error, who knows what would have happened? You can’t put it all on him, however, as we put up a goose egg on the scoreboard.
The player that’s performance that hurts the most is Austin Jackson. It was the perfect move on Jack Z’s part. Getting in on the David Price trade and stealing Jackson for Nick Franklin was as savvy as it gets. Not only do you replace a subpar James Jones, but you get a possible franchise center fielder who can do it all. But that’s not how it has worked out. With the Mariners, Austin Jackson his triple slashed .240/.271/.279 with an absolutely abysmal 56 wRC+. If it wasn’t for his rock solid defense, he would be just as bad as James Jones. It truly doesn’t make sense. At the age of 27, he’s not declining. In fact he should be nearing his prime. He doesn’t have any bad home/road splits, nor any eye opening lefty/righty splits. Jackson needs to step it up because we know he’s capable of it.
Fortunately for the Mariners, the only other player who has been really really bad is James Jones. Right off the bat I was never in love with him due to his inability to get on base, or hit for power. Those are pretty vital characteristics of a good hitter, no? His strikeout percentage is higher than Kendrys Morales’ and his walk percentage is lower than his predecessor Abraham Almonte (those are really, really bad numbers). For players with at least 300 player appearances, James Jones has been the ninth worst player in the MLB. *laughs *laughs You want to know what’s more funny? Kendrys is ranked worst in the MLB with a -1.6 WAR. I’ll be nice, Kendrys is actually tied for worst with Nick Swisher. Pardon me.
My favorite statistic for James Jones is that his wRC+ has been -23 in the second half of this season. A 100 wRC+ is average, so that means James Jones has been 123% below league average offensively this half.
All you need to know about Jesus Montero is that he participated in six major league games and his season ended with a suspension due to him climbing into the stands while wielding a bat and throwing an ice cream sandwich at a cross-checker. I would go further, but as funny as this is with context, it’s funnier without it.
If you must, read it here.
After much deliberation, the biggest dud is Kendrys Morales. It would otherwise be Jones but he’s younger and more inexperienced. We had to give something up for Morales and pay him.
(Honorable mention: Justin Smoak, Hector Noesi, Erasmo Ramirez)
On to the non-bad players!
Drafted in the third round with the 82nd overall pick, Kyle Seager was a labeled as a career backup and utility guy. John Sickels wrote this about Seager in 2010:
He has a nice-looking swing and good command of the strike zone, but was unable to translate his college power into the professional context, being rather punchless in his first 44 pro contests. Defensively, he’s best at second base but can play third base without killing you; his range is too limited for shortstop on a regular basis. He’s fundamentally sound; scouts like his hustle and makeup. I think Seager is an interesting player, but my guess is that he’s more of a utility guy than a future starter.
In 2011, Sickels once again questioned Seager’s ability to translate his power to the majors, but once again, he proved him wrong. Sickels has since admitted that he was wrong on Seager but noted that Seager was an all-field hitter with gap power, not a guy that would pull balls for home runs.
Seager has progressively gotten better offensively every year and has turned into one of the most valuable hitters in the MLB (12th in WAR). He has almost matched Cano’s offensive production while also being one of the best third basemen in the league (weird, I guess it turns out he can play third without killing you). Although he has pretty bad home/road splits, I don’t expect that to leak into next season.
Our prized $240M signee, Robbie. He’s pretty much been as good as advertised. While there’s a bunch of fuss about his drop in power numbers, he’s been just as solid as he’s been in previous years. While his dingers, ISO, and SLG% have dropped, Cano is on a pace for a career high in OBP, and his highest AVG since 2010. Cano’s wRC+ of 139 is hovering right below where it’s been for the past five years and it’s 12 higher than his career average. He’s been well worth the money.
Huh? Roenis Elias? His ERA is 3.85! He’s lost 12 games!
Blah blah blah blah. Roenis Elias is one of the reasons why the Mariners were able to salvage their rotation. He’s second among rookies in innings pitched and he’s been pretty damn solid for a #5 pitcher that jumped from AA. He’s only had a couple outings where he’s truly been dominant, but what do you expect? When he’s on, the kid is on. He’s the only Mariner with a complete game shutout this season. With a little consistency, Elias is going to be fun to watch.
The poster boy for anti-sabermetricians. Chris Young has continually defied the odds and outperformed his FIP and xFIP by a wide margin. He currently has had his best season since 2007 or 2008 (depending on if you’re going by ERA, WAR, or another metric) and will more than likely eclipse 164 innings for the first time since 2005. With the highest flyball rate of any pitcher in the MLB (by 10%…. that’s a lot), Young has given up one less homer on the season than Jason Hammel. Talk about effective. If there wasn’t a Chris Young, there would be a Randy Wolf. If we had a Randy Wolf, we wouldn’t be in this position. Down the line, Chris Young might be less effective. If he is, it’s probably due to the fact that this is the most he’s pitched in a decade. So if it happens, appreciate what he’s done for us to this point.
(Side note: He also looks like Bill Nye the Science Guy. Just saying.)
In just 65.2 innings, James Paxton has done a lot.
- His 1.4 WAR has almost matched Roenis Elias’ 1.4 WAR (in 173.2 innings).
- He owns a 2.06 ERA along with a 2.99 FIP and 3.15 xFIP.
- He has started 11 games while giving up more than three runs zero times.
- He’s been compared to the likes of Andy Pettitte and Clayton Kershaw.
This has already gotten lengthy, so I’ll try to keep it brief. He’ll more than likely end the season trailing Kershaw and Kluber in WAR and trailing only Price in innings pitched. To me, no other pitcher has been as instrumental to his team’s success as Felix has. Arguments could be made for Kershaw, but hell, I’m biased and I don’t give a damn. Felix has improved virtually every season and it looks like he’s only going to get better. At 6.1 WAR, Felix has been the Seattle Mariners’ biggest stud.
Some people may say Cano, but I think our biggest stud is Felix. He’s been our MVP and for awhile it looked like he may win AL MVP. Now he’ll hopefully have to “settle” for AL Cy Young.
(Honorable mention: Fernando Rodney, Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Danny Farquhar, Logan Morrison, Hisashi Iwakuma)