The Mariners already possess the remedy to what ails the lineup
A self-help project led by Seattle hitters would go a long way towards making the acquisition of another bat this summer worthwhile.
If anyone still needed convincing the Mariners’ offense isn’t postseason-ready, its performance over the last week should have done the job. In six games against the Yankees and AL West division-leading Rangers, the Mariners plated just 16 runs and lost five times.
My lead-in comment isn’t hyperbole fueled by a bad stretch - far from it. The Mariners are averaging 4.37 runs scored/game this season, which is approaching “bottom-third of MLB” territory. The team ranks 27th in AVG and SLG and 23rd in OBP. Its designated hitter production since Opening Day is the worst in baseball.
The front office seems to agree more is needed. Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto recently signaled supplementing the lineup was a priority during his weekly segment on The Brock and Salk Show.
“We will go into the trade deadline part of this season looking for a bat, wherever that might fit.” - Jerry Dipoto
Still, acquiring another bat shouldn’t be viewed as the fix for all that ails Seattle’s run production effort. Regulars already on the roster must become part of the solution - this has yet to happen. Otherwise, the impact of any addition to the lineup will be muted.
Numbers don’t lie
To see what I mean, consider the following table, which illustrates the OBP and SLG of qualified Seattle hitters. Just two are above-average in each category - Ty France and Jarred Kelenic. Not enough for a serious postseason contender, folks.
Still, the current roster does have agents of change capable of spearheading a turnaround. Specifically: Julio Rodríguez, Teoscar Hernández, Eugenio Suárez, and Kolten Wong. All boasted an above-average OBP and SLG just last season.
Based on his performance over the past three weeks, Rodríguez’s season is heading in the right direction. In his last 101 plate appearances dating back to May 10, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year has a .298 AVG/.347 OBP/.489 SLG slash-line.
Similarly, Hernández’s bat has shown signs of life (.291/.321/.443) during his last 21 games. Furthermore, the right-handed hitter’s 30.9% strikeout rate is much closer to his career average (29.7%) than any other extended period this season.
It’s been rough sledding for Suárez thus far. The slugging third baseman did hit a walk-off home run a little over a week ago. However, the player who clobbered 31 home runs and delivered a very respectable .332 OBP and .459 SLG last year has yet to come close to being as productive in 2023.
As for Wong, his outlook appears dim considering the amount of playing time he’s lost to rookie José Caballero. If this trend continues, it’s plausible the 32-year-old’s future with the club will soon be in jeopardy.
Summertime boom or bust?
The need for another established bat in Seattle is indisputable. However, it’s unreasonable to expect any hitter acquired by the club to revive its suboptimal offense by himself. Instead, it'll take the new guy and some combination of Rodríguez, Hernández, and Suárez performing up to the back of their baseball cards on a consistent basis.
Otherwise, it’s tough envisioning the Mariners leap-frogging multiple clubs in the AL West and Wild Card standings this summer. This would be a disappointing and unfortunate outcome for a highly-anticipated season.
My Oh My…
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