Seattle Mariners Season In Review: Outfield

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As we continue our look at the 2014 Seattle Mariners season, our attention turns to the outfielders. If you missed our first two segments, you can catch up with the links in the “More From” menu to the right, below.

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Now, there were 13 different players who played in the outfield for the Mariners in 2014. Cole Gillespie (designated for assignment) Nick Franklin (traded) Abraham Almonte (traded) are no longer with the team. Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, we covered in other segments. Willie Bloomquist actually played more at shortstop than any other position, but still only played in 47 games.

Gillespie, actually had the 3rd-highest batting average among Mariners outfielders this season (.254) but was sent packing in July. We all remember the debacle that was Almonte. He who made the Opening Day roster, despite batting well under .200 during Spring Training. He had batted .198 in 27 games for Seattle (and was at Triple-A Tacoma) when he was traded to San Diego.

The man the Mariners got in return, was Chris Denorfia. Denorfia is a free agent and will likely not be re-signed. He was actually slightly worse than Almonte (.195 in 32 games) since the trade.

Finally, Stefen Romero, like fellow former Oregon State Beaver alum Gillespie, struggled to find their place with the big club. Though Romero was retained and will be battling for a spot come February.

Let’s now take a look at the core group of M’s in the outfield.

Austin Jackson and James Jones

One, is the rookie speedster that took over for Almonte following his demotion. The other, took over for the speedster after he was traded to Seattle at the deadline.

James Jones, respectfully nicknamed “Vader” by our very own Mike McDonnell, was using the force in centerfield after getting the call up from Tacoma. He was holding his own fairly well when the trade was made to bring in Austin Jackson from Detroit.

Not too many people complained about it. Though Jackson didn’t exactly live up to the billing after the trade. Here are the stats (Jackson #’s with Seattle only)

Jones: 108 G, 312 AB, 46 R, 78 H, 9 2B, 5 3B, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 12 BB, 67 K, 27 SB, .250/.278/.311

Jackson: 54 G, 223 AB, 19 R, 51 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 12 BB, 59 K, 11 SB, .229/.267/.260

Now, let that sink in for a second. Jones played in twice as many games, but had roughly 90 more at-bats. In those at-bats, he only struck out eight more times than Jackson and scored more than twice as many runs.

Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not suggesting that the Mariners get rid of Jackson. If he is able to return to the numbers he’s posted in previous seasons, the Mariners have a dangerous table setter at the top of the order.

But why not use Vader in right next year? Jackson followed by Jones in the 1-2 bringing you to Cano, Seager and hopefully another big bat they acquire this offseason. Could be deadly. But then again, the Mariners have these two guys.

Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders

Ackley played the majority of the season in left field and batted 2nd in the lineup for a lot of the season. Though, his splits suggests he should be batting 8th – .233 average in 193 AB batting 2nd, .229 average in 157 AB batting 7th, .330 average in 88 AB batting 8th.

Saunders had the 2nd-highest average among Mariners outfielders. Problem was, he couldn’t stay healthy. Let’s take a full look at their season numbers.

Ackley: 143 G, 502 AB, 64 R, 123 H, 27 2B, 4 3B, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 32 BB, 90 K, 8 SB, .245/.293/.398

Saunders: 78 G, 231 AB, 38 R, 63 H, 11 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 26 BB, 59 K, 4 SB, .273/.341/.450

Ackley’s numbers aren’t exactly the breakout-worthy numbers we were hoping for when we saw him bat .382 with 2 HR and 16 RBI in Cactus League play. But his numbers were most certainly an improvement over 2013. Well, his average wasn’t but his power numbers and run production were.

As for Saunders, he is arbitration eligible and most likely won’t get a huge boost in pay, because of his time on the disabled list. If he can stay healthy for a full season, patrolling right and batting 2nd behind Jackson and ahead of Cano, this offense could get real in a real hurry.

Endy Chavez

I save Chavez for last because surprisingly enough, he led the Mariners outfielders in average (.276) 2nd in OBP (.317) and 3rd in SLG (.371). Chavez was everything that manager Lloyd McClendon asked him to be, and more.

Chavez is a free agent this year and it’s unclear whether the club wishes to retain him or not. He would be a relatively inexpensive option to have off the bench, though his age (37 next season) may play a role in him not signing.

So, needless to say, the Mariners seem to have their outfield covered fairly well heading into 2015. They may seek a power bat in a corner OF spot, but chances are they will focus on DH or 1B and go with the platoon of players they have in the outfield.

In our next segment, we take a look at the starting pitchers.

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