Sept 2, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge (right) and catcher Jesus Montero (63) shake hands following a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE
Throughout the coming weeks I am going to go through the Mariner’s players and give a rundown of the player’s past, present, and where I think they are going in the future. I will do the few core players for sure, and may expand it to more of, or the whole roster. While a lot of this is just my opinion, I am going to use statistics to come up with the most accurate projection that I can.
I am going to start with catcher, DH and 1st baseman (?), Jesus Montero.
Jesus was signed by the Yankees, and worked his way through their minor league system. He was then traded to Seattle along with pitcher Hector Noesi in exchange for rookie phenom Michael Pineda and minor leaguer Jose Campos. We was regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, due to his career 143 wRC+ in the minors.
He played 135 games for the Mariner’s in 2012, and had a slightly disappointing year. He finished with a .295 wOBA and 90 wRC+, along with 15 homeruns. Many people expected him to have a rookie of the year worthy season, but he ended up far from it. He did not show the opposite field power that many were expected, and that may have hurt him in Safeco.
He surprised me a little defensively however. Everyone was talking about how he cannot stay at catcher, and will have to move to 1st or DH. And while that is true, he didn’t look too bad back there to me. I still think he should change positions for the future, but because of the wear and tear that catching brings, and because Mike Zunino figures to take over behind the plate in as little as a year.
Overall, Montero’s season was a little underwhelming. I didn’t expect quite as much as some people did, but I expected more. I thought a .325 wOBA, 110 wRC+ and 22 home runs was very possible, but he came up short.
I still believe Montero has a bright future, just maybe not as bright as we hoped. This seems to be becoming a pattern with our young players, and hopefully it stops with Montero. He has so much talent, and so many people thought highly of him that it’s hard for me to expect a bust. We have to remember that he is only 22, and it was his first full year.
Another big factor was Safeco, which absolutely killed Montero. His wOBA goes from .328 on the road to .263 at home, and his wRC+ drops from 113 to 68. That is a huge difference, and shows that he is a capable hitter, Safeco just holds him back. I don’t think anyone expected that much of a disparity, since Montero was thought to be a opposite field hitter. We can see here in his hittracker that all but 3 of his homers are to left or left center field. The moving of the fences should help him out a little, and he will continue to improve, but we may still see a different player at home than we do on the road.
That being said, what do I think of his future?
I expect improvement this year, but not quite as much as we would like to eventually see. I think as high as a .330 wOBA and 115wRC+ with 23-25 HR is in the realm of possibility, but .310/105/20-22 is probably more realistic.
As for the more distant future, I see him making small improvements for the first couple years, then really turning it on at 25-26. I think he will become a perennial .340 wOBA, 125 wRC+, 25 HR guy. Not quite the MVP we hoped for, but a solid player none the less who could find himself in a few All-Star games.
Defensively, I see him moving to DH long term. He may see some first at times too, and could end up playing there full time, but I am still hoping Smoak has finally figured it out and will be our guy there for the future. I don’t think any of us would object to having a DH that can hit like Montero can. I hate making these kinds of comparisons, but I would love having Edgar Jr in the middle of the order for years to come.