Despite what everyone has been saying it is clear that for now, and for the future, the Seattle Mariners need more right-handed hitting.
One of the big areas of need for the Mariners this offseason is more hitting and what a lot of people think the Mariners need is more left-handed hitting. However, if you take a deeper look into the stats and what the future looks like for the Mariners lineup, it becomes more clear that what Seattle really needs is more right-handed hitting, or lefties who can hit left-handed pitching.
The main reason that the Mariners need more right-handed-hitting for next year is that they were the worst hitting team against left-handed pitching last year. In 2020 the Mariners finished last in the MLB in OPS against left-handed pitching at .609. They also ranked last in batting average, last in on-base percentage, and second to last in slugging all against left-handed pitching.
While getting Tom Murphy and Mitch Haniger back will be helpful in reversing last year’s horrendous stats against left-handed pitching, here is how the Mariners’ probable 2021 lineup fared against left-handers last season in terms of OPS, with players who’s OPS vs. lefties was worse than vs. righties in bold.
C Tom Murphy: 1.103 (2019)
1B Evan White: .462
2B Ty France: .630
3B Kyle Seager: .649
SS JP Crawford: .661
LF Dylan Moore: .762
CF Kyle Lewis: .805
RF Mitch Haniger: .829 (Career)
DH Jose Marmolejos: .551
BENCH Phil Ervin: .402
BENCH Luis Torrens: .661
BENCH Tim Lopes: .671
BENCH Shed Long: .205
From that lineup 9 of the 13 hitters had worse OPS’s against left-handed pitchers than they did against right-handed pitchers in 2020, with the exception of Murphy and Haniger of course who have different times listed since neither played last year.
Now if we look at the future of the Mariners and what we hope the team will look like in the future, it paints a nearly identical picture. Of the Mariners 13 position players in the team’s top 30 prospects, 8 of them are lefties while 3 are righties and 2 are switch hitters.
Seattle’s top prospect Jarred Kelenic is also a lefty and is a much worse hitter vs left-handed pitching compared to right-handed pitching. In 2019 in the minors, Kelenic hit just a .757 OPS against lefties compared to .940 against righties.
So it is clear that while the Mariners do have a righty heavy lineup, adding left-handed-hitting to it will not help and will only make Seattle more vulnerable against left-handed pitching. Of course, there are left-handed batters that fare the same or better against lefty pitching like Joey Gallo and I would not be opposed to Seattle signing or trading for one of them, but the Mariners should definitely steer clear of hitters like Kyle Schwarber and Joc Pederson.
Instead, there are plenty of right-handed hitters on the open market who are good hitters against righties and great hitters against lefties who can help the Mariners now and some who could sign multiple year contracts. I have written about a few like Marcell Ozuna, Nelson Cruz, and Edwin Encarnacion who could all be great options at the right price to help solve the Mariners’ issues against left-handed pitching (To read my stories about them simply click their name).