mariners

Resurgent Franklin Gutierrez Better Than Ever

Often Injured Outfielder Back In Form

If you ever went to a baseball dictionary and looked up the definition of “hard luck story” you might just find a picture of Seattle Mariners outfielder, Franklin Gutierrez.  A fan favorite and amazing centerfielder for the Mariners in 2009 and 2010, Gutierrez epitomized his nickname “Death to Flying Things” during those two great season.

Franklin Gutierrez

Bad luck doesn’t begin to describe the difficulty Franklin Gutierrez has had to overcome.

The wheels absolutely came off the hubs for Gutierrez after 2010 however.  Gutierrez was hit by more injuries and bad luck than any player I can think of in the past 20 years.  If wasn’t his knee, it was his hamstring, or his arm, or his shoulder, or his wrist, or he was bashed in the head with a ball while trying to reach first base.

Franklin simply could find a way to stay on the field.  In 2011, Gutierrez saw his games played total drop to 92.  In 2012 and 2013, it fell further to 40 and 41 respectively and just when he thought he was going to finally be healthy the mysterious stomach ailment reared its ugly head and took him out of the entire 2014 season.

Gutierrez, at 32 years of age, and scarcely having played a game in three years was forced to accept a minor league contract to stay with the M’s organization in 2015.  Expectations for Gutierrez were minimal to start the year.  He was assigned to AAA Tacoma and asked to play corner outfield on a part time basis, mentoring the Mariners younger outfielders.

Despite his age and what most thought of as a delicate, aging body and skill set, somehow Gutierrez turned his career back around.  After 48 games at AAA the M’s former centerfield star was hitting .317 with a .402 OB% and with 10 doubles, 13 homers and 31 RBIs. 

Meanwhile, at the big league level, the Mariners were starving for guys to get on base.  Gutierrez’s numbers could not be ignored and on the evening of June 23, 2015 his phone rang.  It was Seattle.  They needed him to get himself to the Emerald City.  He was playing left field for the M’s against the Kansas City Royals the next day.

It was a routine line for Gutierrez in his first day back in the show that evening.  He went one for three and drove in a run with a sac fly.  How could anyone expect much more than that from the aging former centerfielder?

Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners

I’ll cheer for this guy anytime, any place.

In his best year offensively, Gutierrez hit .283 with 18 homers and 70 RBIs.  That was in 2009.  In the 47 games that followed his unlikely return to the big leagues Franklin has now amassed a .317 batting average with 10 doubles, 13 homers, and driven in 33 RBIs. 

The unlikeliness of Gutierrez coming back at all was remote, at best.  To come back in this fashion is nothing short of miraculous.  It’s the stuff of legends and the stuff of fairy tales.

What does 2016 hold for Gutierrez’s future?  Will it even be with the Mariners?  It’s hard to say.  The M’s are team in transition, looking for a new GM as we speak and Franklin has no contract to play for the Mariners beyond this September.

Could Gutierrez be a part of rebuilding a lineup that has a solid core of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager?  It would likely have to be on a semi full time basis, playing either left or right field rather than center. 

Fortunately, for me, that’s something for the new GM to grapple with.  Whether it’s Seattle or somewhere else, Gutierrez has earned his second chance and wherever he plays, I’ll be cheering him on.

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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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