Projecting the 2018 Seattle Mariners: Ben Gamel
One of the funnest memories of the 2017 Mariners was the incredible hot streak of an Spring Training afterthought. Not even making the team out of Spring Training, Ben Gamel carried the Mariners in May, but struggled down the stretch.
The 2017 season for Ben Gamel really was the epitome of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season. In his first 67 games with the Mariners, Gamel slashed .323/.379/.449, posting a 127 wRC+. However, in the final 67 games, Gamel slashed an anemic .227/.262/.376.
The reason for the struggle is pretty basic. After posting an enormous 25% line drive rate in the first half, Gamel’s LD% dropped to 18.9%. In addition, Gamel saw his walk rate drop from a respectable 8.5% to a below average 4.5%.
Gamel’s GB rate in the second half spiked almost 10%. All of these factors contribute to Gamel’s demise. He stopped talking walks, hit more balls on the ground, losing most of his power in the process. The real question heading into the 2018 season is this: will the real Ben Gamel please stand up?
The Mariners seem to believe that Gamel is an everyday outfielder, as they have done nothing to add to their corner outfield competition. This is especially relevant when considering that 4th outfielder Guillermo Heredia is no sure thing to be ready by Opening Day.
Seattle does have some young outfielders in their system, but relying on Ian Miller and Braden Bishop is not ideal. So what will Ben Gamel look like in 2018? Our guess:
Sodo Mojo’s Projections for Ben Gamel: 545 PA, 138 hits, 27 doubles, 4 triples, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 39 BB, .273/.325/.413
Ideally, Ben Gamel is a part of a platoon for a playoff contender. Gamel can hold his own against LHP, but can be exposed over an extended period of time. The Mariners do not appear interested in platooning Gamel, a decision that could have dire consequences.
Next: Projecting the 2018 Mariners: James Paxton
Seattle is trying to add versatility to Gamel’s game, and will let him play some first base this Spring Training. The Mariners will need a consistent performance from Gamel to stay afloat in the WC race. If not, the Mariners will need to spend resources mid-season to add a corner outfielder, or watch the playoffs at home for the 17 consecutive season.