Seattle Mariners offense off to streaky start

Mariner Runs Come Feast or Famine

The Seattle Mariners are off to a reasonably good start at 7-6.  I use the term “reasonably good” because while I’m sure you’d like to see them at 13-0 I think you have to consider this a team that has been above the .500 level since 2009 when they won 85 games.

Major League Baseball is not like the NFL.  MLB teams can’t turn around a disappointing season or a messy roster nearly as fast as an NFL team can. 

Having said that however, I think it’s very fair to say the Mariner’s offense has been streaky at best.

The Numbers

Here are some of the more interesting numbers I see when I look at the M’s offense:

The Mariners have a team batting average of .230.  That ranks them 27th in the 30 team league.

Dustin Ackley has stepped up in 2014.

Dustin Ackley has stepped up in 2014.

However, if you look at the M’s batting average with runners in scoring position the number jumps up to .280.  That’s good enough for 4th in the league.  If you go to their average with RISP and two outs it’s even higher.

The M’s have batted .283 thus far in those situations.

The Mariner’s ability to hit with runners in scoring position is a big reason why they have 7 wins in 13 ball games. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for their 6 losses.

In those 6 losses the M’s have been shut out 3 times.  In the other 3 losses they have scored a combined 6 runs.  In fact in games they have lost the Mariners are hitting a woeful .157 as a team.

Lefty vs. Righty

Much has been said throughout spring training and the early part of the regular season about the Seattle Mariners lineup being too lefty handed heavy.  The lefty heavy dilemma I believe is a big reason why Abraham Almonte has been leading off and playing centerfield.

If McClendon has Michael Saunders or Dustin Ackley play center then you are looking at an even more lefty heavy lineup that includes lefties in the top 3 spots.

Conventional wisdom would say all those lefty bats would make you think the Mariners would just steamroll right handed pitching and at the same time be severely hamstringed by a quality lefty pitcher.   That’s just not been the case so far.

Against right handers the Mariners are batting just .213 which puts them 29th in the league.  Verses left handers the M’s hit .254 which ranks them 10th.

The question is, at what point does McClendon say, “To heck with conventional wisdom” and start running out his 9 best bats regardless of which side of the plate they hit from?

Individual Hitting Performances

It should come as no surprise that the Mariners leading hitter so far is the $240 million man, Robinson Cano.  Cano is hitting .320 on the season and is the only Mariner hitting above .300.

His .320 average puts him right in line with his usual performance.  Cano has yet to hit a home run but I wouldn’t put much worry into that number.

Dustin Ackley has been able to carry his 2nd half of 2013 success along with his spring training success right into the 2014 regular season.  He’s batting .295 and is 2nd on the club with 7 RBIs.  Ackley has been decent in left field.  His throwing arm certainly is a better fit there than in center.

The switch hitting 1st baseman, Justin Smoak, is off to a decent start.  He’s hitting just .245 but I think it’s a number that will never go much beyond .275 anyway so he’s not too far off the pace.  He also leads the club with 9 RBIs and has a couple of dingers to boot.

 Justin Smoak, is off to a decent start

Justin Smoak, is off to a decent start

Performing better than expected would have to be catcher Mike Zunino.  Zunino is hitting .256, is tied for the club lead in homers with 3 and is 2nd in RBIs with 8.  Keep in mind this is a guy who has just over 350 at bats in his career in the minors and just another 200 or so at the major league level.

This is a very impressive start for Zunino, a very young major league hitter.

3rd baseman, Kyle Seager has to be the biggest disappointment so far in 2014.   Seager hit just .191 during spring training this year and whatever his demons, they seem to have followed him into the regular season where he’s hitting just .146 so far.

Seager has endured a slump or two before but this is going on 6 weeks now and is very uncharacteristic of guy who hit .258, .259, and .260 in last 3 consecutive seasons.

Big spring training numbers don’t always translate into regular season success.

Just ask Mariner’s shortstop, Brad Miller.  After hitting .410 in the spring Miller has managed just .214 on the regular season.  He does have 3 home runs on the year which ties him with Zunino for the club league.

Changes coming?

Nick Franklin has been recalled to the Mariners as of early this morning.  It’s also official now that Logan Morrison is on his way to the DL.

Franklin could see time in right field if Corey Hart‘s knees aren’t up to the task.

He could also DH or even play short if Miller continues to struggle.

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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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