Current Outlook for Your 2010 Mariners

A fairly large portion of the Mariners fan base seems to share the notion that, while the team we have right now isn’t bad, we’ve gotta add at least one true power hitter if we want to contend. That’s an idea that I’m going to try to dispel today. The truth is, home run power is overrated. It’s been talked about endlessly by guys like Dave Cameron and Jeff Sullivan – when it comes down to it, if you have enough above average hitters on your team (think Ichiro, Figgins, Gutierrez, potentially Bradley), and enough serviceable hitters (think Kotchman, Lopez), and don’t have too many completely inept hitters (think Rob Johnson), you’re going to be able to score runs. Are the Mariners going to field a powerhouse lineup that scores 6 runs a game? Absolutely not, but you don’t need one to win games.

One thing that Dave Cameron has emphasized a lot this season, and I think everyone needs to understand, is that it doesn’t matter where your team gets it’s value from. A team like the Mariners is going to get a really good portion of their value from their defense, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sure, they’re going to lose their fair share of low scoring games. It’s going to happen. But because of the fact that they have an amazing defense, as well as what’s shaping up to be at least half of an awesome pitching staff, they’re going to make up for that by winning an assload of low scoring games. Fortunately for the Mariners, a team can get by without scoring a lot of runs, as long as they don’t give up a lot of runs either, and a team with only one non-plus defender isn’t going to give up a whole lot of runs.

What I’m trying to get across is that the 2010 Mariners are already a good team. They’re already a contender – they don’t need to add a power bat to have a chance at the division title. Here are some current position player projections. All offensive projections, excluding Adam Moore’s, are via Bill James, and all defensive projections are via baseballprojection.com.

Position Player Projected 2010 wOBA Projected 2010 wRC+ Projected 2010 OBP Projected 2010 Defense
RF Ichiro .345 111 .365 +6
3B Chone Figgins .337 106 .369 +7
2B Jose Lopez .324 97 .310 +2
DH/LF Milton Bradley .365 125 .384 -2
CF Franklin Gutierrez .337 106 .336 +6
1B Casey Kotchman .331 102 .342 +6
LF Michael Saunders .325 98 .324 +9
SS Jack Wilson .298 79 .311 +9
C Adam Moore .304 83 .307 N/A
IF Jack Hannahan .308 86 .331 +8
C Rob Johnson .281 67 .293 Awful
OF Ryan Langerhans .335 104 .351 +3
DH Ken Griffey Jr. .328 100 .333 0

The offensive projections for Ichiro and Figgins look a bit pessimistic, and so do the defensive projections for Franklin Gutierrez and Ryan Langerhans. Other than that, it looks about right, and it doesn’t look nearly as bad laid out like this as a lot of people seem to expect. We’re likely to only have 2 hitters in our starting lineup that would be classified as bad – one of them makes up for it with outstanding defense, and the other is extremely young. This lineup is going to be able to score runs. It’s not going to score a ton of them, but to act as if the 2010 Mariners are going to be as inept at scoring runs as the 2009 Mariners were is just plain wrong.

Alright, so that’s the offense, what about the rest of this team? Like I mentioned earlier, there are still a good amount of fans out there who seem to think this team doesn’t even become a contender unless we add more offense. Well, let’s see.

Position Players:

Position Player WAR
C Adam Moore 0.5
C Rob Johnson 0.5
1B Casey Kotchman 1.5
2B Jose Lopez 2.5
SS Jack Wilson 1.5
3B Chone Figgins 4.0
LF/DH Milton Bradley 2.5
OF Ryan Langerhans 0.5
LF Michael Saunders 1.0
CF Franklin Gutierrez 4.0
RF Ichiro 4.0
IF Jack Hannahan 1.0
DH Ken Griffey Jr. 0

Total WAR from position players: ~23.5

Pitchers:

Position Player WAR
SP Felix Hernandez 5.5
SP Cliff Lee 5.5
SP Ryan Rowland-Smith 2.5
SP Ian Snell 1.5
SP #5 Starter 0.5
SU Brandon League 1.0
SU Mark Lowe 1.0
CP David Aardsma 1.5
RP Rest of the Bullpen 1.5

Total WAR from pitchers: ~20.5

Team WAR: 44

Since a replacement level team, from what I understand, is somewhere around 45 wins, that would put the Mariners somewhere in the 88-89 win range. Even if I’m being optimistic on some of these projections, I don’t see how any set of projections could have this team below 87 wins, and 87 wins is certainly going to be good enough to compete in the AL West. In fact, it’s probably enough to make the Mariners the division favorite – and that’s without the bona fide power hitter that so many fans seem to be craving.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying the Mariners are necessarily done for the off season. Although we can’t know for sure, I would guess that they still have money to spend, and they could certainly stand to improve by adding another reasonably priced, solid starting pitcher. However, there aren’t many of those on the market, so that may require Jack Z to get creative. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see either a right handed left fielder or a right handed first baseman brought in, now that Bill Hall is a Boston Red Sock (Sox?).

Tags: Adam Moore Bill Hall Brandon League Casey Kotchman Chone Figgins Cliff Lee David Aardsma Felix Hernandez Franklin Gutierrez Ian Snell Ichiro Jack Hannahan Jack Wilson Jose Lopez Ken Griffey Jr Mariners Mark Lowe Michael Saunders Milton Bradley Projections Rob Johnson Ryan Langerhans Ryan Rowland-smith

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