The Fault in the Mariners’ Stars

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 10: Jean Segura #2 of the Seattle Mariners reacts to fouling out during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on July 10, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 10: Jean Segura #2 of the Seattle Mariners reacts to fouling out during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on July 10, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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The Mariners have been one of the worst offensive teams in baseball for the last month. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. With no signs of improvement shown, these woes now completely fall on the shoulders of the team’s superstars.

I’ve been one to blame the Mariners’ offensive struggles on the lack of depth within their 25-man roster. Yes, role players like Ryon Healy and Andrew Romine are certainly a part of the problem, but the consistent lack of offensive presence should be attributed to the disappearance of Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger.

For the first three months of this season, Haniger and Segura were offensive juggernauts. As a result, they both earned spots on the American League All-Star roster and appeared to be AL MVP candidates.

Going into the month of July, the Mariners were seemingly running away with the second AL wild card berth, even after having a shaky June. With the sudden rise of the Oakland Athletics paired with a month-long offensive drought, the M’s have quickly found themselves on the outside looking in.

Haniger and Segura are at the center of their offense’s failures. Since July 1, Haniger is slashing .218/.352/.287 (.300 wOBA) with a 22.9 K%. In that same timeframe, Segura has been even worse, slashing .229/.261/.312 (.251 wOBA).

At least in Haniger’s case, he’s been walking often which has led to his high OBP. Segura, on the other hand, just hasn’t been able to earn his walks and is keeping the ball on the ground almost half of his at-bats.

Doesn’t it feel like every time Nelson Cruz has hit a home run lately, it’s been a solo shot?

Considering that the Mariners have a significant amount of players with hot-and-cold potential, they need Haniger and Segura to be constants in their lineup. They’ve failed to give opportunities to their single-swing difference-makers on a more consistent basis since the end of June.

When the Mariners were playing their best baseball, Haniger and Segura were daily contributors. Right now, they’re contributing in a different way – to the Mariners’ offensive meltdown.

The good news is that both Segura and Haniger are better than how they’re playing and should hopefully get things turned around shortly. Hopefully that’s sooner rather than later; with the way the A’s have been playing, a turnaround could be too late in the near future.

It’s no secret, however, that the Mariners are a better team than the A’s when at full strength. The pitching staff has been better than expected and has kept the M’s in most games during this month-long skid. If the offense can finally get back to their ways of timely hitting and controlling the zone, they can once again become a serious threat in the American League.

Getting Robinson Cano back into the fold before the next homestand significantly helps things, of course. Especially when his return is expected to occur during a big series  against the team the Mariners are chasing.

Cano not only gives the M’s one of the best bats in the MLB, but his presence also greatly thickens the lineup. With Cano playing every day, the Mariners won’t be forced into giving the likes of Healy and Romine significant playing time for the final month-and-a-half.

Even with Cano, though, Haniger and Segura have to be better. The top of the lineup, which should still feature Segura and Dee Gordon, have to be able to set the table for Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager. Haniger and Denard Span then have to serve as the insurance for the nights the 3-4-5 aren’t on their game.

Both players fill necessary roles this team will require to have a successful offense going forward. While these slumps don’t reflect the ability of the player, the lack of progression is a bit worrisome.

If anything, perhaps the fact that they slumped together means they’ll get hot together. If so, that would be an enormous boost to a team that desperately needs their offense to score more than two or three runs a game.

In the end, the Mariners need to see something out of both Segura and Haniger relatively soon. If not, the 18th year of the Mariners’ historic playoff drought will likely commence.

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