As you can expect with any young team, there are going to be some players that get off to a rough start. The same is true for the Seattle Mariners. Unfortunately, our disappointing players so far this year have been the staff ace and two gold glovers.
What’s going on with these guys so far? Is it just a slow start, or is there something else behind it? It does help to keep in mind that baseball is a long season, and players have rough stretches all the time. It just stands out a bit more when it happens at the beginning of the season. People will pass by a rough start when it’s the middle of July, but tend to focus on the rough start to a season, curious if it is a negative precursor for the rest of the season.
The lead to this article was going to be JP Crawford, who got off to a bad start. Baseball can be a funny game though. He was hitting .172 through eight games, with just five hits in 32 at-bats. Over the last three games, he has matched that original hit total, bringing the average up to a very respectful .256.
Let’s investigate the three Mariners who have had a disappointing start to the 2021 season.
Evan White’s calling card is his glove. There is no doubt about that. The expectations on his bat were to be tempered, but he has started much slower than anyone expected. After an interesting Spring Training where he led the team with 16 RBI, despite just 10 hits for a .222 batting average, White is hitting a paltry .120 with three RBI, four runs, and three hits. The bright spot? Only eight strikeouts in 25 ABs, 12.0% lower than last year’s rate.
He has yet to barrel up a ball this season and ranks in the bottom half of nearly every advanced hitting metric. What’s worse, is he is in the bottom 5% in average exit velocity and hard hit %. It’s tough to get on base when you aren’t hitting the ball hard, ever. At least he has his defense to keep him around, and as long as he sticks around for the whole season, he will be a gold glove finalist.
Marco Gonzales hasn’t had the best success early in his seasons during his time as a Mariners, but his start to 2021 is something else entirely. He gave up three through 4-1/3 last year, six through 11-1/3 in 2019, and 14 through 16-2/3 in 2018. That’s a 6.27 ERA to start the season, with the remainder of those three years coming in at 3.66.
This year has by far been his worst start. He leads the league in home runs given up with five, for a rate of 4.4 per 9, which is coincidentally his walk rate as well. Both career highs in Seattle. He’s given up 12 through 10-1/3, for an ERA of 10.45 and a FIP of 9.62. His career points to this being an anomaly, especially the high walk rate of 4.4/9, whereas he led the league last year at 0.9/9.
With decent pop and decent speed, there was a thought that Moore could solidify himself at second base, and put together a quiet .240 average with 20/20 HR/SB. Through 380 PA in 2019 and 2020, he had done nearly that already, hitting .224 with 17/23.
Instead, we are seeing him struggle mightily coming out of the gate to start 2021. A strikeout rate of 34.2%, an average exit velo in the lower 1/3rd of the league, and a batting average of just .121. It’s nice to look for some positive that could show why he may break out, and there are a couple for Moore. He has walked four times already, bumping his OBP to .211. He also has three doubles from his five hits. He has a good eye and has shown a proclivity to get the bat on the ball.
The good news is that we are only 11 games into the season. That’s just under seven percent. With plenty of baseball left, that also means that there is a lot of time for them to turn it around, just like JP Crawford did with his solid three-game stretch. Marco is scheduled to throw in the Orioles series finale on Thursday, and Moore and White should see plenty of at-bats on a regular basis to improve their numbers. Go Mariners.