The Seattle Mariners have won their first 2 games of their 4 game set against the Angels after losing 6 straight. The offense is back on track, scoring 16 runs in the 2 games. However, there may be an opportunity to get better.
Right now, the Seattle Mariners are getting almost nothing from the leadoff spot. After a nice start to the season, centerfielder Mallex Smith has crashed down to earth. He is now slashing .203/.281/.304 and is worth a whopping -0.4 bWAR.
Things get even more depressing when you look at his slash line over the 2 weeks. Smith is slashing just .192/.236/.250 and in the past week, it’s down to .125/.192/.167. I don’t need to tell you how bad that is.
Now let’s get one thing straight: Mallex Smith isn’t a bad player. Nor should the Mariners give up on Mallex. He has a solid track record in the big leagues, has 4 years of club control and is just 26-years-old.
By contrast, the outfielder in the minors most prepared to take his place is Braden Bishop, the 25-year-old with 12 games of experience above AA ball. Mallex Smith missed all of spring training, so a streak like this is not unexpected.
However, the Seattle Mariners are 15-8 and handing out most of your PAs to one of your worst hitters. Mitch Haniger has a track record of success in the leadoff spot, slashing .329/.384/.580, albeit in a small sample size.
Domingo Santana is another option. He leads the AL in hits, has a .382 OBP this year and a .351 career OBP. He also has the footspeed some people care about and power. Santana makes a lot of sense in the spot.
Even Daniel Vogelbach or Omar Narvaez makes more sense than Mallex at this point. But any move the Mariners make now is temporary. Smith should return to the leadoff spot in due time, but for now, giving one of your worst hitters the most opportunities at the plate is a poor, poor plan.