It has only been less than two weeks since Eric Wedge finally gave up on Chone Figgins. The entire city of Seattle breathed a sigh of relief knowing that they would no longer have to watch him and his sub-Mendoza line batting average every night. However, since his departure, things have not gone so smoothly at the top of the order either.
With Figgins out of the leadoff spot, Ackley has become the regular in the first spot of the order. This has left a vacancy in the second spot in the order which has turned into a revolving door of struggling bats. Prior to tonight’s game, four players, John Jaso, Casper Wells, Brendan Ryan, and Alex Liddi, have been tried behind Ackley, but none have done particularly well. In eleven games, the second spot in the order has been 7 for 40 at the plate which gives a batting average of just .175. In addition, those four have struck out eight times in the eleven games, and have only drawn three walks while hitting second.
Tonight, Michael Saunders is taking his turn in the spot in the order. As I write this, he has two hits and a walk, raising the batting average of the two-hole to .214 in twelve games, but I really don’t see Saunders being a long-term solution.
Since it doesn’t appear that any of the five guys who have been tested in the second spot in the order will be staying there for long, I think it’s time to start looking for other solutions on the current roster.
My first idea is Ichiro. I have heard quite a few voices calling for Wedge to move Ichiro down in the order, but why not shift him up to second? If nothing else, I think we can assume that Ichiro will hit higher than .175. Personally, I always like having a lefty in the second spot in the order. This slot in the lineup is usually used quite a bit for small ball, and lefties can generally do things like hit behind the runner better than righties can. Ichiro is also a good bunter and runner, both of which put the game in motion and can be useful in Ackley’s old spot in the lineup.
The other ideal option for the second spot in the order is Kyle Seager. Seager has swung the bat pretty well this year, and he is a stereotypical two-hitter considering his ability to put the ball in play and his left handed bat. While Seager is a logical option, I think it would be a bad decision for him to be removed from the spot behind Jesus Montero. In my opinion, Seager has been crucial to the success of Montero, since he has provided the necessary protection in the order. Without Seager hitting behind Jesus, pitchers would be much less willing to throw him Montero strikes since Smoak and Carp would hit behind him with .205 and .139 batting averages respectively.
The fact of the matter is that the Mariners need to find someone who can produce out of the second spot in the order. I believe that it is time to try Ichiro there, since that arrangement would still allow for Seager to protect Montero in the batting order. Let’s see if Wedge gives Ichiro a turn in the two-hole.