Seattle Mariners Season Preview: Seth Smith

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Apr 6, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners left fielder Seth Smith (7) slides into third after hitting an RBI-triple against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Los Angeles, 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners left fielder Seth Smith (7) slides into third after hitting an RBI-triple against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Los Angeles, 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Can Seth Smith help the Mariners reach the postseason in 2016?

The Seattle Mariners acquired Seth Smith from the San Diego Padres prior to the start of the 2015 season. The veteran outfielder brought stability to the M’s lineup last year, but his production failed to live up to expectations.

Smith posted a .248 batting average with 12 home runs and 42 RBI across 136 games with the Mariners in 2015. He registered a .330 on base percentage and slugged .443 through 452 plate appearances. Overall, Smith tallied 1.9 wins above replacement durning his first season in the Emerald City.

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The 33-year-old got off to a fantastic start on opening day, going 3 for 3 with a pair of doubles, a triple and 2 RBI as the Mariners bested the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field. Unfortunately, his memorable showing against the Halos was the high point of his season. Smith is set to earn $6.75 million dollars this year, and he will platoon with Franklin Gutierrez in right field.

The Good

There is a lot to like about Seth Smith as he enters his 10th season in the big leagues. His .330 on base percentage was good for fifth on the Mariners last year. His .344 career OBP suggests he will continue to get on base consistently in 2016. Smith did a solid job hitting with runners in scoring position, posting a .263 batting average and driving in 28 runs.

Aug 18, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners right fielder Seth Smith (7) rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners right fielder Seth Smith (7) rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Ole Miss alum also showed some decent pop in his debut season in Seattle. Smith tallied 31 doubles and homered 12 times in 136 games. His .443 slugging percentage was his highest mark since 2011 when he played his home games in the hitters paradise known as Coors Field.

Smith is also a very capable defender in the outfield. He posted a .994 fielding percentage and recorded 6 outfield assists across 797.2 innings last season. Smith also registered a 2.02 range factor per 9 innings in right field, which edged the league average of 2.00.

The Bad

The Mariners were hoping Smith would be their number two hitter last season, but that concept was quickly abandoned. He hit just .248 in 2015, his lowest batting average since he hit .240 with the Oakland A’s in 2012. Most disturbing is the fact that Smith hit a measly .216 over the final two months of the season.

Staying healthy was another problem for Smith in 2015. He injured his groin on opening day, and dealt with numerous little things throughout the season. Smith never went on the disabled list, but he appeared to wear down as the season went on.

The Future

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Baseball Reference and FanGraphs are not anticipating much of a rebound for the Mariners right fielder in 2016. Baseball Reference is predicting Smith will hit .251 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI in 478 plate appearances. The experts at FanGraphs are projecting he will post a .248 batting average with 12 home runs and 49 RBI across 109 games.

The Mariners lineup is better this year, and I expect Smith to have a bounce back season. Having more players around him capable of getting on base should lead to more RBI opportunities for Smith in 2016. I predict he will break the .260 threshold while hitting 10-15 home runs and driving in 50-60 runs.

Next: Mariners Trade Target: Andre Ethier

Seth Smith may not be a household name, but he is nice complimentary player for the Mariners. Smith is a solid fit as a platoon partner for Guti, and hopefully he will find success hitting out of the bottom third of the M’s lineup this season.

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