Last Wednesday, I was visiting my brother in Denver, so I (naturally) splurged on some tickets behind the Seattle Mariners dugout to catch their interleague matchup with the Rockies. It was a lovely afternoon – $1 hot dogs, Kyle Seager giving me a triumphant raised fist every time I exclaimed his praises, an unexpected rookie from AAA throwing 5 innings of 1-run ball, and the Mariners knocking out three towering home runs in the high altitude.
So what on Earth (besides our opener allowing 5 runs in the 1st inning) could have tarnished that splendid day? Nobody was on base when those dingers were sent out, and the Mariners were sent packing with a 6-3 loss.
The Seattle Mariners have the 5th-highest team BARISP (batting average with runners in scoring position) in the American League, but the LOWEST team OBP (on-base percentage).
That statistic is absolutely brutal, but there’s more insult to injury: J.P. Crawford, Mitch Haniger, and Ty France (the Mariners’ typical first 3 hitters in the batting order) are all in the top 10 in the A.L. for BARISP, but the 7-8-9 hitters in the order (typically composed of some combination of Jarred Kelenic, Dylan Moore, and Shed Long Jr.) are getting on base at respective rates of .178, .273, and.234. The top of the order just isn’t getting a shot to do the damage it’s capable of.
Crawford, particularly, hits .368 with RISP (5th in the A.L.) out of the leadoff spot – that’s an ability that the Mariners need to take advantage of. So, I am pining for Seattle’s front office to prioritize players who can get on base at the end of the batting order at this year’s trade deadline, more so than players who can drive in runs from the top.
Considering G.M. Jerry Dipoto is searching for players that can fit for Seattle beyond just 2021, let’s take a look at someone who I think would be a major immediate upgrade, and could contribute in the long-term as well.
Enter Harold Castro of the Detroit Tigers
Harold Castro is a lefty, 27-year-old utility player for Detroit, who is under team control through 2022. Castro’s OBP sits at .339 through 192 at-bats in 2021, which is clearly a significant upgrade over anyone currently hitting at the end of Seattle’s batting order.
The Tigers are a young team currently figuring out who fits into their long-term core. Their farm system is stacked with position player talent, but it looks like there is a battle at second base: Harold Castro, or the younger, bigger, faster, Willi Castro (unrelated). Harold has put up mostly better numbers this year, but Willi has the higher ceiling.
With Harold Castro’s utility abilities in the field and switch-hitting capabilities at the plate, the Mariners can plug him in at left field or second base on a daily basis, allowing Dylan Moore and Shed Long Jr. to work a righty-lefty platoon at the other spot.
Here’s my proposal to the Tigers:
The Tigers have one left-handed pitcher in their top-30 prospects: AA starter Joey Wentz. The Mariners, on the other hand, have a surplus of young left-handed pitchers, including Justus Sheffield, Brandon Williamson, Adam Macko, and Fletcher. Sheffield has had a tough go so far this season, but due to his team-friendly contract and 1st-round pedigree, I don’t think the Seattle Mariners will be jumping at the first chance to move him.
Instead, it will be Fletcher – a Triple-A level reliever, currently slated as Seattle’s 16th best prospect. He has yet to be impactful in the big leagues, but he certainly gives the Tigers a talented young left-handed middle reliever to solidify their bullpen moving forward.