This is what the 2013 baseball season has come to for the Mariners. Well, this and consistently being beaten by the Houston Astros. Before I start to look at Robert Andino and who else could really have gotten the starting job, I want to just say “what the hell?” I don’t understand why Ryan is losing his job. He cannot hit, that much is clear. But he has never been very good at the plate and we put up with him hitting under the Mendoza line all year. And its not like Andino has been much better, hitting .161 in about half as many AB’s as Ryan. I don’t understand the timing of the move at all, but I am going to move past it and now look at who could have gotten the playing time that Andino now receives and show why Ryan is really the best option available.
Yes, Franklin is only 22 and has had some large questions posed about his defense, including by me. But what he has shown early in AAA Tacoma is incredible, especially for a 22-year-old switch-hitting middle infielder. His triple slash line is .325/.449/ .500, but what I like more and what shows progress from last year is his 14% K percentage and 16% BB percentage. The K issues that he has struggled with in the past may be past him, but he has only had 11 games this year, so small sample size and all. He needs more seasoning, but if Andino and Ryan keep playing awful, Franklin is the closest in the system to playing for Seattle.
The former prospect has become more of a forgotten player as he sits in Tacoma, still struggling with plate discipline and hitting non-fastballs. But he has shown a hot bat to start this year, even hitting for the cycle earlier this year, and he does play shortstop, a seemingly important qualification at this point. The reason why Franklin gets the nod over Triunfel: He is younger, better at the plate and better defensively.
Full Disclosure: I think Miller will be the Mariners starting shortstop in the next two years. But for now, he is in AA Jackson hitting the ball really hard. That last sentence holds the reason why he is not option 2 and why he could very easily be option 1. He has not hit above the AA level ever and he is not as talented as Manny Machado, so don’t make that justification. But he is hitting .286/ .351/ .500 in Jackson in 18 games, which is a slightly larger sample than Franklin, but not large enough to put him over Triunfel.
Ryan is still the best overall shortstop in the Mariner organization, with Franklin second and Andino third. Andino is in Seattle because he can play 2B, SS and 3B. Not because he can hit .275 or even .250. Ryan is in Seattle because he plays excellent defense, not because he has ever been a very good hitter or even a good hitter. The Mariners can bench him for awhile to let him figure out his swing, but the team, right now, is better when Andino is on the bench and Ryan is playing shortstop.