Tomorrow is opening day for the Mariners, and you should be PUMPED! The team is undeniably moving in the right direction. This year will be another step forward for Seattle, and they may even surprise some people. I don’t usually like giving super bold predictions, so here is a quick list of somewhat bold predictions I am making for the Mariners this year.
Brendan Ryan hits .270
Ryan has simplified his swing for 2013. Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan literally didn’t hit his own weight in 2012, but that’s not how it has always been. In his first full season in the major leagues, Ryan hit .292 with a .332 BABIP. Sure, the BABIP is a bit high, but it certainly is no indication of a future .194 hitter like he was in 2012. One of the big differences between the Ryan of 2012 and previous years was that he had no luck getting hits from ground balls. His average on line drives was also low which indicates a bit of unluckiness which is supported by his measly .244 BABIP over the season. Common logic tells us that his average will rise back to the mid .200’s. In theory, his adjusted hitting mechanics will cut down on his strikeout rate which has climbed for each of the last two seasons, and his removed bone spur should help him as well. Once you take all these things into consideration, a .270 average from Ryan seems possible.
Blake Beavan doesn’t last the full season in the rotation
If you read my last article, you know that I don’t think much of Blake Beavan. When I look at him, I see a pitcher who pitches to contact but doesn’t know how to get groundballs and doesn’t know how to avoid barrels. His stuff isn’t good enough to bail him out when he makes mistakes, and he tends to make a lot of mistakes. With Erasmo Ramirez, Jeremy Bonderman, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton all sitting in AAA close to being prepared to pitch in Seattle, I don’t see the Mariners giving Beavan a whole lot of slack this season.
The Mariners are within 4 games of division lead in September
This somewhat bold prediction is derived from a gut feeling more than anything else. My main support for this ascertain is a simple, “why not?” The Mariners are a solid team that, with a little extra production, could win 85 games this year, and the division probably doesn’t have a team good enough to run away with the AL West crown unless the Angels’ rotation over performs. Saying that the Mariners will win the division is a bit too bold for me, but saying that they will be the hunt down the stretch is just somewhat bold enough for my liking.
Michael Saunders has a 25/25 year
Last year, Saunders hit 19 homeruns and stole 21 bases. In 2013, he will likely get more at bats and will probably have much better protection in the batting order. Assuming that he continues to progress as a player, a 25/25 year for Saunders would be a bit surprising but certainly not unrealistic.
King Felix wins his second Cy Young award
Again, why not? There is no doubt that Felix Hernandez has good enough stuff to win the Cy Young, and this year his numbers should get a little help from the games he will pitch against the Astros instead of the Angels. The improved offense should provide a few more wins which will give him some extra votes. Seattle’s stellar defense should also help his case. Even with the fences moving in, Safeco won’t be easy on batters and Felix’ numbers outside of Safeco have never been much worse than at home. In fact, he has allowed more homeruns at home than on the road in several different seasons. The dimensions shouldn’t have a significant impact of the King.
Franklin Gutierrez gets traded
The pieces match up for a trade like this happening. It’s his last year under contract, the Mariners could use to dump his salary, he doesn’t seem to be in the organization’s future, and he could fetch a decent return. It’s a perfect situation for Seattle. It’s not often that a gold glove caliber centerfielder gets traded, but if it is going to happen this summer, it will probably happen to Guti.
Mike Zunino makes his major league debut before the all star break
Zunino is spring training. Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Zunino has thrived in every level of competition he has seen thus far. He will start 2013 on the doorstep of the major leagues, and with nothing more than a defensively inept catcher standing between him and a major league starting job, it doesn’t seem like he’ll have to wait very long to get his major league debut. Prior to the all star break may be a bit optimistic, but it is doable. His ETA will also vary based upon a few other players.
Smoak has a .800 OPS
It seems a bit unrealistic, doesn’t it? Let me lay out a scenario for you. Justin Smoak will replicate his typical walk rate of about 10% while finally posting a somewhat respectable BABIP. With a tad bit of luck, his OBP should sit around .350 in this scenario. In order to achieve his .800 OPS he will need to slug .450. This is a stretch for Smoak, but we know he has made some changes at the plate. If his Spring Training is any indication of his future, a .450 slugging percentage could just barely be in reach. He hit as many doubles in spring training as he did in five months in 2012. If Chris Johnson can reach a .450 SLG%, Smoak should be able to.
The team ERA drops
Considering that Hector Noesi won’t be pitching every five days in 2013, this somewhat bold prediction looks pretty good. I prefer Joe Saunders to Jason Vargas and I think Iwakuma will improve in his sophomore year. With some added experience in the bullpen, the team ERA is prone to drop in 2013.
The season attendance reaches 2,500,000 fans
The club has received a minor facelift, the ballpark has seen some remodeling, the promotions are stellar, and the weather appears to be wonderful; there is no reason why 2,500,000 fans shouldn’t enter Safeco Field for the first time since 2007. Get out and watch some games!
Happy baseball season!