Of all the off-season moves Jerry Dipoto has made so far, the new first base platoon may prove to be one of the biggest difference makers.
Last season, the Mariners combo of Dae-Ho Lee and Adam Lind proved to be clutch at first (sometimes), but as the season wore on, they left much to be desired.
This season, Danny Valencia and Dan Voglebach look to take the offense to a new level to make up for Lee and Lind’s struggles, particularly in the second half of the year.
Valencia comes in as a lefty specialist.
Over the course of his career, he has raked against lefties, hitting an impressive .321 through 770 at-bats. Not only that, he is great at creating runs as well. Last season alone, his wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) was 118.
This means he created 18% more runs than the league average. He also had an impressive BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) of .346, which is well above the league average that is just shy of .300. In a spread out field such as Safeco, a high BABIP can bode very well.
Voglebach, on the other hand, is a bit of a wildcard.
He was acquired by the Mariners last season in a trade with the Cubs. Stuck behind Anthony Rizzo, Voglebach really had no available spot on the big league club. Now that he is with Seattle, he is going to get the chance he was waiting for.
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Voglebach played in only eight games for the Mariners last season; it was his first ever stint in the majors. Though he may not have done a whole lot, there is still reason to have hope.
Voglebach’s raw power is something that the Mariners haven’t had in years. Last season, through 133 games in AAA he had 23 Home Runs and 96 RBI with a high walk rate.
During the 89 games with the Cubs Triple-A affiliate, he had a wRC+ of 158. If he can create anywhere near that many runs in the majors this season the Mariners will be in line for a major boost in run support.
What To Expect
The platoon of Lee and Lind last year combined to hit .245 with 34 HRs, 107 RBI and scoring 81 runs while striking out on 23% of their at-bats.
Seattle’s much-improved lineup seems primed to score runs in bunches. Don’t be surprised if Valencia and Voglebach are a huge part of that.