Seeing Too Much Shawn O’Malley In 2017 Would Mean Two Things
By Adam Levi
We’re not there yet, but the Mariners GM, Jerry Dipoto has done a lot of work over the past couple years trying to create a playoff-caliber infield that can play at a high-level day or night, at home, and on the road. The 2017 Mariners have those players.
What Dipoto has created is the best group of Mariners infielders that has fit that standard in a long time, if not ever.
If we take that to be true, then we won’t being seeing much of utilityman, Shawn O’Malley, because the team just won’t need him for more than forty games, no matter what position he would be filling as a back-up.
So, if we see him, it would have to mean one thing: the Mariners infield (and outfield) cores are greatly underperforming expectations.
This isn’t a shot at O’Malley, he’s been a middle of the line player at the major league and minor league levels.
A former fifth-round draft pick by the Tampa Rays, the Richland, Washington native has played the role of back-up mainly because he’s been good enough for a call-up, but not good enough to start. His main assets to the Mariners are his versatility, his speed, and his defensive capabilities.
His bat has been subpar, but when you’re filling in once or twice a week, or even once of twice every other week, that expectation that a player would be a jack of all trades is low.
O’Malley has had a career .963% fielding percentage at all levels of baseball having played seven defensive positions.
Yet, while he has been slightly more error-prone in his longer tenure in the minors, he has a .987% fielding percentage at the major league level, committing just three errors in his brief MLB stint. He’s also not been shy to make a highlight reel play here and there.
As for his speed, he hasn’t been taking bags for the Mariners as he did in the minors, snagging a bag about once every four games.
Instead, that has come down considerably as he now commits this ballfield crime once every ten games, which isn’t terrible.
If he played a full season with the M’s, that would average out to sixteen stolen bases in a year. That would’ve have ranked him for the second most on the Mariners 2016 roster.
Unfortunately for the twenty-nine-year-old aspiring starter, with the likes of the uber-durable, and well-maintained machines that are Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Jean Segura, his services in the infield should not often be needed.
In his entire career, Cano has never missed more than six games since 2007. Likewise, Seager hasn’t missed more than four games since his first year as a regular back in 2012.
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Segura has seen more time on the bench, missing about fifteen matches per season, mostly sitting out a day here and a day there, but even he hasn’t missed more than a week of play at a time since May of 2015 when he fractured his pinky. And that was his only extended break.
How bout a role in the outfield? Well, the outfield is so crowded with players that bare a similar or greater skill set than O’Malley, that it is unlikely to see much of him there either, although that is where he’s been stationed the most in his short time in the majors.
With the speed and fielding ability of Leonys Martin, Jarrod Dyson and others in the outfield, and the same traits plus power in the infield with Segura, Seager, and Cano, the only reason, aside from injury -knock on ship’s wood- to see Shawn O’Malley would be due to grave underperformance by the men the Dipoto has craftily set in place to lead the Mariners to their first playoff spot in fifteen years -knock on ship’s wood once more.
Next: Trade Review: Mariners Lose Vizquel
As much as Mariners fans would enjoy to the see the local product, I think it’s fair to say that they would prefer to see the A and B list studs that are used to starting all summer long. At least O’Malley will be waiting and ready when he is called upon, no matter how infrequently that may be.