There appears to be a reoccurring theme with the Mariners offense this season which is they have good hitters who are underperforming.
For example, Adam Frazier’s career batting average is .273, yet he is hitting .235 this season. Mitch Haniger’s career average is .260, but his current batting average is .236. Jesse Winker’s career batting average is .271, yet he is batting .219 this year. These hitters are clearly underperforming their career numbers, which begs the question why are they struggling?
The answer might not lie with the players, but with what the Mariners are being taught
The Mariners hitting philosophy and instruction from their hitting coaches Jarret DeHart and Tony Arnerich could be to blame.
There is clear evidence the Mariners are passive at the plate. As of 09/28/2022, they have taken the first pitch in 3473 at-bats and swung at the first pitch in just 1605 at-bats. Seattle’s batting average when swinging at the first pitch is .244, and their OPS is .719, with a .444 slugging percentage. When they take the first pitch, their batting average is .221 with a .692 OPS, and a slugging percentage of .363.
When the Mariners are more aggressive on the first pitch, they clearly do more damage at the plate as seen by their slugging improvement and higher batting average.
The frequency in which the Mariners are tentative at the start of the at-bat is also striking since they have taken the first pitch 1868 more times than they have swung at the first pitch. It is understandable why the Mariners have taken such a passive approach at the plate because the Mariners coaching staff has wanted the young hitters to learn how to dominate the strike zone. However, this strategy has not translated to more hits and runs at the plate.
The Mariners rank 14th out of 15 American League clubs in batting average, with a .228 team batting average, and are 11th in the American League in runs scored, with 643 runs scored this season. Even though they are second in the American League in walks. They’re got Julio Rodriguez and Suarez doing well, but not much else.
Clearly, Seattle needs to think about hiring new hitting coaches with a more aggressive approach to hitting or at least come up with a new hitting philosophy. The shift will be banned next year, and this passive style of hitting will not work, as the game becomes more about putting the ball in play.
These young hitters have had plenty of enough at-bats to know the strike zone and recognize pitches. Also, veterans such as Jesse Winker, Mitch Haniger, and Adam Frazier have all seen dramatic declines in their batting averages this season.
This demonstrates an overall lack of preparation for success from hitting coaches Jarrett DeHart and Tony Arnerich. Along with a failed hitting philosophy, the Mariners continue to rank among the league’s worst in offense.