Seattle Mariners: 5 (Semi) Bold Predictions for 2019
3. Despite Rebuild, Mariners send 4 to All-Star Game
Yes, the Seattle Mariners are going to send 4 players to the All-Star game. Who will they be? I don’t know. However, I think we can safely assume that Mitch Haniger will be selected (assuming health) so that is one.
In addition to Haniger, a good first half from Yusei Kikuchi or Marco Gonzales could land the Mariners their 2nd or even 3rd All-Star, especially if a number of options are ineligible to pitch in the game because of prior use.
As for finding another 1 or 2, that becomes the tricky part. If Dee Gordon can return to 2017 levels, he certainly has a shot to make the squad, especially of Whit Merrifield or Jose Altuve can’t play. There is a possibility, however remote, that Kyle Seager returns to his 2016 levels when he was a fringe MVP candidate as well.
Perhaps the best shot for the Mariners is Edwin Encarnacion. However, with J.D. Martinez, Nelson Cruz, and Khris Davis all considered DH’s, those odds aren’t great. It is difficult to imagine that anybody from the M’s bullpen would get the call unless Hunter Strickland shows a level of dominance we haven’t seen before.
But you know who has an excellent chance to make the All-Star squad? Omar Narvaez. Crazy right? But consider this: Salvador Perez is out for the season recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Wilson Ramos is now a New York Met. Gary Sanchez was abysmal last season. And we know the AL will need at least 2 catchers. Starting to seem possible?
Now consider that of A.L. catchers last season with at least 300 PAs, Narvaez ranked second in the AL with a 2.1 fWAR (trailing Yan Gomes by just 0.1 WAR), led the AL in OBP by 20 points, was second in wRC+ (to Ramos who is now in the NL), and second (behind Ramos) in batting average for good measure.
Assuming Haniger is a lock and Kikuchi or Gonzales get in, Narvaez will have an excellent shot to make it 3 Mariners at the Mid-Summer Classic. This means that just 1 Mariner has to find a way into the game. Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Absolutely.