Projecting the 2018 Seattle Mariners: Mike Zunino
Quick, who was the Mariners best position player in 2017? Cano? Cruz? Seager? Segura? Well, as you may have deduced from the title, the actual answer may be Mike Zunino, and really, who saw that coming?
The fall from grace to meteoric rise of Mariners catcher Mike Zunino has been well documented. While his phoenix like career certainly warrants celebration, it also begs a question: can he do it again in 2018? Before we answer that, lets take a look back at what “again” means for Zunino.
Finishing last season with a .251/.331/.509 slash and 25 home runs is an excellent start, but only half the story. Mariners fans should be familiar with the story. After being sent down to AAA Tacoma for 3 weeks in May, Zunino returned to the Mariners and casually became on of the best catchers in baseball.
Since he was recalled on May 26th, Zunino appeared in 100 games with 355 plate appearances, a fairly significant sample size. In those 355 PA’s, Zunino slashed .270/.349/.571 with 25 home runs and 33 walks. Truly incredible.
Of course, Zunino isn’t perfect. He still struck out 37% of those PA’s. He did, however, also post a 9% BB rate, which with his power, will play nicely. But back to our original question: is it repeatable?
The career high in BB% is an encouraging sign. Even watching Zunino, you could see physical changes to his set up and swing. All of these bode well for Zunino. So what type of season do we see for Z?
Sodo Mojo’s 2018 Projections for Mike Zunino: 480 PA, 110 hits, 25 doubles, 27 home runs, 62 RBI, 41 BB, .251/.315/.492
So, as you can see, we aren’t willing to commit to 2017 Mike Zunino just yet, but we still see him as a productive player. A return back to 2017 levels is probably overly optimistic for Zunino, but the Mariners will need several players to exceed expectations to make the playoffs in 2018.
Could Zunino be one of those players? Yes. Could we see Zunino play in his first All-Star game? Yes. But could, and will are not the same thing. Mike Zunino has proven he is a good player. But can he repeat 2017 and show he is a great player? Only time will tell.