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

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


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?).

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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

  • Chad

    Phenomenal article man.

  • Jim Grapes

    Concerning further off season activity, do you think Jack is also pursuing a catcher? I’m not nearly as up on this but I wondering if the Mariners could sign Bengie Molina (or some other catcher) and how they might fit in with the 2010 team?

  • Mike

    Very well done Griffin. Good job man

  • Griffin Cooper

    Some kind of a stop gap veteran catcher could make sense in theory, but with Zaun off the market, I’m just not sure there’s anyone that makes sense. Molina would cost way more money than it makes sense to spend with Adam Moore in the wings. I mean, we signed Josh Bard the other day, so that’s something, but if I had to guess I’d say it’s not a priority for the team at this point.

  • Harrison

    Josh Bard is a lot better than most people give him credit. We don’t need to throw money AND a roster spot at this problem.

    Molina will end up with the Mets. I think that if delt Johnson away, someone like Mike Redmond could make sense. But, thats not going to happen at this point. Maybe next off-season.

  • Bearskin Rugburn

    Nice work. You ARE being incrediby optimistic for many of these projections, although I think your optimism has to do more with playing time than performnce. For example, projecting Hannahan, a backup, to be as valuable as Wilson, the starter, seems a little heavy handed.

    Ditto for the bullpen. The pen was worth 3 wins last year, and that’s with Aardsma going totally nuts. The 5.5WAR you’re projecting would have put the Ms in the top five last year, and this just isnt a top five bullpen I think.

    Projecting 22 wins for the pitching staff as a whole also seems a little too rosy. That is again, top five territory. I think 20 is more reasonable.

    I know it seems like I’m nit picking (I guess its cause I am) but you seem to be fudging a little toward the positive ina lot of places and the end result is about four wins higher than what I think makes sense for the roster as it stands. Four isn’t a lot over a season, but there’s a huge difference between a 88 win team and a 92 win team in terms of playoff odds.

  • Griffin Cooper

    Playing time is definitely going to be a big part of it. Someone like Hannahan is hard to project, because we just don’t know how much playing time he’s going to get. He’s certainly going to provide value when he does play, because he’s just that good of a defender, but it could end up being anywhere from .5-1.5 wins. Then there’s always the off chance he gets it together offensively – and although unlikely, it wouldn’t shock me to see him put up better numbers. Nonetheless, with players like Hannahan that are tough to project, I tried to avoid just guesstimating. I used a combination of Bill James/Chone/Fan projections, and 1.5 is where it got me. I concede that it could certainly be less though.

    As for the bullpen, 5.5 is probably optimistic, but it’s certainly going to be more than 3. I’d expect guys like Lowe, Kelley, and White to improve marginally as they’re still heading towards their prime, and of course there’s the subtraction of Batista and the addition of League. 5.5? Maybe not. 4-5? I’d say definitely plausible.

    I can definitely see it being more in the 90-91 win range, as I felt like I was being a tad optimistic when I wrote this, but I’d still think anything below 90 is fairly pessimistic.

  • Techno-Viking_

    Those numbers are way to high I’m sorry. I’d love it to be that high but that’s just not realistic. My calculations put us at around 87, and I’ve seen another projection at 86. Some of those players aren’t numbered properly. For instance Griffey would definitely be below replacement level not on par with it. Some of those are to low also like Ichiro and Figgins. Plus you don’t have a full 25 man roster up there yet and your already at 93, 94? Believe me we’ll be good but you can’t have whimsical expectations, those are too high.

  • Griffin Cooper

    Part of that comes from the fact that I’ve recently found out that a replacement level team is more like 45 wins, so that brings it down a couple. Also, we do have a full 25 man roster – if we bring in anyone else, they’ll be replacing one of these guys. I’d be happy to re think projections if you have any specific players who I have too high though (though 4 on Figgins and Ichiro are fairly conservative, realistic projections). And as a bench player, I don’t see Griffey dropping below replacement.

  • Griffin Cooper

    However, I did make a few changes, brought it down to around the 88-89 win mark.