Before spring training was cancelled we had a pretty good idea how the infield would look this season. It should not change a whole lot when they do get under way.
Rookie Evan White should be playing the most time at first base as a rookie after signing a major league contract last November for six years. We have confidence White will be able to play good defense at first base. He might already be the best defensive first baseman in the major leagues. The question is will he be able to hit major league pitching.
If it hadn’t been for the postponement of baseball we would probably have the answer right now. We will have to see whether starting the season late will help or hurt White just like everyone else in the Mariner lineup.
Daniel Vogelbach will get in some playing time at first base as well. Since the schedule will be shortened he will spend most of his time at designated hitter. Vogelbach isn’t even close to being the defensive player White is at first base so even when Vogelbach starts we will see White come into the games late for defensive purposes. As expected Vogelbach will platoon at DH primarily started against right handed pitches.
Against left handed pitching we could see several different players in at DH. Depending whether he is ready to go or not we could see Mitch Haniger at DH when he isn’t playing in the outfield. We could see Tom Murphy dhing when he isn’t behind the plate or Austin Nola if he isn’t catching. Tim Lopes could DH as well when he isn’t in the outfield or infield. Lopes was having such a good spring when action halted the Mariners will try to get his bat in the lineup as often as possible including DH. Other players could see action if they are not totally healthy.
The Mariners will start Shed Long at second base. He will be the lead off batter for the most part as well. This will be his first full season starting in the major leagues so he could struggle at the plate like White, however, the Mariners will give him every opportunity to play even when his bat isn’t going well.
The Mariners still have veteran Dee Gordon who can play at second base when Long needs a rest. He will see some action at shortstop too. Since the roster may expand to 30 players on the season we probably won’t see Gordon in the outfield.
JP Crawford will be the Mariners starting shortstop for the most part. As I said, Dee Gordon will see some action there as well. Depending on injuries Dylan Moore might see action at shortstop too. The Mariners are hoping JP Crawford will step up his game this season. They want him to be a starter at shortstop over several seasons including when the rebuilding is over.
For right now Kyle Seager will be the Mariners starting third baseman. Depending on how he does over both 2020 and 21 will decide his fate whether he will return to Seattle in 2022. His contract expires after 2021 though 2022 is an option year. For both the Mariners and Seager we are hoping he does return in 2022. Depending how healthy Seager is the Mariners may see Tim Lopes and Dylan Moore at third base as well. Neither is the defensive player Seager is at third base. Offensively Lopes is good but doesn’t have the power Seager has. Also, Lopes and Moore both hit right handed as well.
So that is the look at the Mariners infield for 2020. Besides Long leading off the Mariners may start Crawford second in the lineup followed by Seager in the third spot. It will be important Seager hits well there or the Mariners offense could struggle. Mitch Haniger is healthy, he can hit anywhere in the lineup including third.
For the Mariners to win around half of their games on the season the Mariners offense will play a key role besides their defense. We can’t depend on the pitching whether starters or relievers to get the Mariners toward winning all on their own. Go M’s.