Mariners fans: Don’t worry about Mike Zunino
By Chace Davy
For those of you that follow statistics and sabermetrics, there might be some concern on the Mariners roster where Mike Zunino plays. As the Mariners’ full-time catcher last year, he batted just .199/.254/.404
I’m here to tell you that the M’s are just fine with Zunino as their full-time catcher. He’s only had one full-time season in the MLB, according to Dan Wilson, has the work ethic to become one of the MLB’s premier catchers. In 131 games last season, he hit 22 home runs and drove in 60 RBIs. Kyle Seager only hit three more home runs in 28 more games.
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The rumors that the Mariners were looking hard at, and were
, made me a little disappointed. It seemed ridiculous to me that the Mariners would give up on Zunino after only one full season, especially since Martin only hit 11 home runs last season.
So now that Martin is signed with the Blue Jays, I’m relieved, to say the least. I hate to bring up Adam Jones in a post again, but Zunino has been hyped as one of the best catchers in the M’s system since Wilson, and the M’s could use some consistency at that position if they want to make a push toward the playoffs. Since Wilson retired in 2005, the Mariners have used over 20 different catchers, and unless the play was to use Martin as a DH and teacher for Zunino, acquiring him didn’t make sense to me.
Zunino is a pretty amazing defensive catcher. Watching him play last year, I was impressed at how effective he was at keeping balls in the dirt in front of him. He only allowed eight pass balls last season, which ranks fifth among all catchers last year. He also shows up in the top five in nine other defensive catching metrics.
In April this year, MLB.com posted a article regarding the amount of “extra strikes” a catcher gets over the course of a season, and how that affects the team, and again Zunino shows up on the list of some of the best in the business with 76.2 extra strikes in 2013 (I don’t know where the .2 comes from, but whatever).
Martin shows up on that list as well with 152.6 extra strikes.
To make my final point, Zunino showed us last year that he is already one of the better catchers in the MLB today, and could quickly become one of the cornerstones of a Mariners team that needs consistency now, more than ever.
He’s a magician behind the plate, and the Mariners have been focusing on building a defense-based team as of late.