Predicting the 2021 Mariners Opening Day lineup

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 28: Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners at bat against the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 28: Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners at bat against the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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The Mariners vs. the Red Sox on Opening Day.
SEATTLE, WA – MARCH 28: The Red Sox lineup prior to taking on the Seattle Mariners during their Opening Day game. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The wait is almost over! The Seattle Mariners open the year against the San Francisco Giants tomorrow at T-Mobile Park at 7:10pm. This season is a big year for the Mariners not in terms of success, but in terms of who we will get to see on the field. Fans have been waiting for a long time to watch the top prospects in the organization play in Seattle, and we will get to see one of them tomorrow.

So, let’s take a look at how I think the Mariners will and should lineup tomorrow against the Giants.

Mariners Opening Day lineup

  1. J.P. Crawford SS
  2. Mitch Haniger RF
  3. Ty France DH
  4. Kyle Seager 3B
  5. Tom Murphy C
  6. Jake Fraley LF
  7. Dylan Moore 2B
  8. Evan White 1B
  9. Taylor Trammell CF

J.P. Crawford

I know a lot of Mariners fans have been advocates of Mitch Haniger hitting leadoff, but I rather have the Gold-Glove shortstop at the top. First off, Crawford isn’t that bad at the top of the lineup. He’s actually pretty good. The 26-year-old has hit leadoff 24% times out of all of his starts in the MLB.

In those starts, he hit .250 with a .322 OBP and .636 OPS. He’s not Ichiro but J.P. has plate discipline, will get on base, and steal bases to turn walks and singles into doubles. Historically, the former first-round pick hits better in the seventh and eighth-hole, but it isn’t too large of a difference in terms of average. His slugging is higher at the bottom of the order probably because he gets better pitches to hit.

Another reason why I have J.P. leading off tomorrow against the Giants is that they have Kevin Gausman on the mound. J.P. is significantly better against right-handed starting pitchers compared to southpaws (.250 vs. .179 BA).

Mitch Haniger

Haniger has a good history hitting leadoff, but he has slightly better production hitting second in the lineup. As a leadoff hitter, the 30-year-old has a .282 average, .356 OBP, and  .879 OPS. When Mitch is the second-hole hitter, he has hit .289, posted a .370 OBP, and a .899 OPS. The production is pretty similar but why not pick the better one? Especially if J.P. is plenty good at hitting leadoff.

Plus, since Mitch has a better slugging percentage than J.P., wouldn’t you want Mitch hitting after J.P. to drive him in? A single and a double will score a fast runner like Crawford almost every time. Better yet, if Crawford steals second base, he scores every time.

Ty France

Figuring out where Ty France goes is a little harder than deciding where the first two guys go. The 26-year-old doesn’t have an extensive amount of games in the MLB but this is what we’ve got; .333 hitter in the three-hole, .375 hitter in the four-hole, and .315 in the five-hole. He has had one start, four starts, and 19 starts respectively.

I think the ideal option would be to put him in the five-hole, but we don’t have better options for the three and four-hole. So I’ve decided to put Ty in the three-hole because he’s had one of the hottest bats in Spring Training. France might not hit as many home runs as you’d expect from a three-hole hitter, but he is so consistent with the bat that he will drive in plenty of runs, maybe just not in bunches.

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Kyle Seager

We are accustomed to seeing Kyle Seager in the lineup anywhere from second to sixth, but his best numbers are in the four to six range. As a clean-up hitter, he has hit .258, with a .339 BOP, and a .799 OPS.

When the All-Star hits fifth he has a .262 average, a .328 OBP, and .782 OPS. When hitting sixth, he has a .251 average, a .321 OBP, and a .800 OPS. That being said, he’s a pretty easy pick for the clean-up spot and will be a nice compliment to Ty France. Having Seager hitting clean up as opposed to Tom Murphy for example also helps to keep a good balance of lefties and righties at the top.

Tom Murphy

Now for the five-hole, I predict and suggest having Tom Murphy. In his career, the Mariners catcher has produced the most in the five to seven range in the lineup. Although his best production came from hitting seventh in the lineup, the rest of the lineup isn’t good enough to hit fifth in my opinion.

Plus, Murphy is good in the fifth spot. He has a .261 average, .296 OBP, and .855 OPS. His career OPS as the fifth batter is excellent, especially for a catcher. The 29-year-old is my projected fifth hitter in the lineup and continues to balance the lineup between left-handers and right-handers.

Jake Fraley

Jake Fraley hasn’t had a lot of time in the MLB so it’s hard to gauge where he is most comfortable in the lineup. Fraley hit best when starting in the eight-hole, but I am going to move him up the lineup. Besides, his best numbers in the eight-hole are only from eight starts and he hit .207…

Why do I suggest moving up Fraley to the six-hole? One of the reasons is to open up spots for the remaining three batters because some of them perform better further down the lineup. Another reason is because of the young outfielder’s second-half surge in Spring Training.

The former second-round pick has an awful start to the Cactus League but turned things around and finished with a .250 batting average, .400 OBP, and .786 OPS. They aren’t fantastic numbers but they are reasonable for a six-hole hitter especially with the absence of Kyle Lewis. Jake also has some sneaky pop in his bat so I like him in the six-hole.

Dylan Moore

D-Moore usually hits at the top or the bottom of the lineup, never in the middle. So, I think he would be a great seven-hole hitter in the lineup tomorrow. He’s hit .333 when hitting seventh, but he’s only started eight games there. The utility player also owns a .459 OBP and 1.059 OPS in the spot.

Moore performs best as the two-hitter and owns a .269 average, a .382 OBP, and a .853 OPS but he hits lefties better. The 28-year-old is a career .214 hitter against right-handed starting pitchers and a .240 hitter against left-handed starting pitchers. It isn’t a huge difference but it is enough for me to slot him in the seven-hole. If the Giants were going to roll out a left-hander, I would’ve put Moore in as the two-hole.

Evan White

Evan was most comfortable as the eight-hitter according to the numbers. He hit .300 but it was only in six starts. As the eighth hitter, he posted a .364 OBP and 1.164 OPS. The Gold Glover hit three home runs in this spot, the most compared to any other spot he hit in the lineup.

It might not be the best representation but I rather go with these numbers because of the power surge. As I noted with J.P. Crawford earlier, players tend to get better pitches to hit at the bottom of the order and could help White get comfortable.

Taylor Trammell

Last but not least, we have Mariners rookie Taylor Trammell. One of my new favorite players will be in center field for my prediction and hitting last in the lineup. There aren’t any split numbers on Trammell so I don’t really have too much data to support my prediction. But, the 23-year-old has the speed and power combo which makes him a great nine-hole hitter.

I am not comfortable yet putting him at the leadoff or two-hole just because of his big strikeout numbers in Spring Training, but he will be hitting at the top of the order in the future.

Next. Prediction: 5 Mariners that could make the All-Star team. dark

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