With the MLB Trade Deadline passed, teams like the Seattle Mariners who are not in contention for a playoff spot can be hard to watch. And with football around the corner, a lot of fans will simply check out until next spring.
It isn’t hard to imagine why Mariners fans would want to avoid the final 8 weeks of the regular season. This has been a long year for most fans and even those who understand the rebuild and its importance will see little value in watching a team where wins and losses are seen as irrelevant going forward.
After all, the team has told you for the past 9 months they aren’t going to win this year and there isn’t exactly a star player on the team worth the price of admission. So why not focus on the local pro sports team with actual star power as the Seattle Seahawks do?
The simple answer is; because it’s still baseball. And truth be told, I am a huge fan of the Seahawks (something that is annoyingly controversial amongst some Mariners fans) and will be splitting duties between the two franchises I root for.
But just because you can focus on football, doesn’t mean you should ignore the Mariners. While a lot of the heavy lifting is being done in the minors, there are still reasons to follow the Mariners until these re-enforcements arrive in Septemeber. In fact, here are 3 reasons to watch:
1. J.P. Crawford is fun.
Yeah, we like J.P. Crawford and we don’t care who knows about it. The 24-year-old shortstop has been rock solid in his first 55 games with the big club and has been a general joy to watch. In June, we saw him look like a star at the plate only to come back to earth in July.
And yet, it seems like every other day, J.P. is doing something that makes you say wow. Lately, those feats have come with the glove. I mean, who can forget this incredible play against the Tigers:
Crawford was a part of one of the most controversial trades of the off-season and thus far, he has been everything Mariners fans could have hoped for and more. With just about 50 games to go, watching the development of the future shortstop of your team with 5 more seasons of club control is a great way to forget about 2019 and start dreaming on the future.
2. The rebirth of Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon… Maybe
While the young kids are a great reason to watch a struggling team, eventually you need household names to show you something as well. Both Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon could use a really strong close to 2019, albeit for different reasons.
For Seager, he is looking to try and show GM Jerry Dipoto that he can still play a role in the rebuild going forward and that his bad 2018 was an outlier, not a new normal. Seager, who missed most of the first 2 months with a wrist injury, got off to a typical Seager start. That is to say, he struggled in June.
But in late July, he began to show signs of turning things around. In his past 13 games, Seager is hitting .292/.333/.583 3 home runs and 3 doubles. Obviously, this streak isn’t sustainable, but a return to a .250/.330/.450 slash line with his defensive value is more than enough to be an asset going forward.
If Seager can end the season on a positive note, it would greatly help him and the team.
As for Dee Gordon, his final 2 months are all about increasing his trade value. There was a decent chance Gordon may have been dealt last month if he hadn’t hit the DL for the second time this season.
Prior to his second stint, Gordon was actually hitting the ball well, slashing .327/.345/.385 over his past 18 games. Gordon’s season as a whole hasn’t been great, but prior to being hit on the wrist by a JA Happ fastball, Gordon looked back to his pre-2018 self, hitting .304/.336/.407 in his first 37 games.
He tried to play through the injury, but after he was lifted from that game against the Yankees, he hit just .198 with a sub-.500 OPS, crippling his overall numbers. If Dee can return and hit like he had prior to his muscle strain, he may just add some trade value to his name, allowing Dee and Seattle to part ways this off-season.
3. Daniel. Cornelius. Vogelbach
Need we say more? The guy is fun as all get out and has been one of the biggest surprises this season. He has light-tower power, a discerning eye, and a fire at the plate that gives every plate appearance the potential for something awesome to happen.
And as awesome as he has been, he does still have somethings he needs to prove. First and foremost, he needs to show legitimate growth at the plate against LHP. Against them, Vogey is slashing a pitiful .169/.281/.349, good for a 72 wRC+ (100 is average).
Against RHP, Vogelbach is one of the best hitters in baseball, slashing .256/.381/.557 with a 152 wRC+. By comparison, that ranks just behind Anthony Rendon and Freddie Freeman, top 10 in the entire league.
Hitting against lefties isn’t entirely necessary for Vogelbach, but as a guy who provides no value defensively and as a base-runner, being a platoon bat isn’t optimal. Vogelbach needs more PAs against lefties to figure out what he is going forward.
But while we try to learn who Vogelbach actually is, he sure is a ton of fun to watch either way.