What to expect from Kolten Wong on the Mariners in 2023
As the Mariners went into the 2023 offseason, we all knew that the team had holes that needed to be filled. We need some bats and we needed a new second baseman. Adam Frazier was going to be leaving, and it didn't seem like Abraham Toro was the correct answer to any meaningful question you could ask. Trader Jerry ended up sending Toro, and Jesse Winker, to the Milwaukee Brewers for Kolten Wong.
Quickly, Wong took the place of many Mariners before him as a player who held differing opinions amongst the fans. Some think he is the answer at second and will be a great addition to the team (myself included). Others think he is best suited for a platoon role, sharing time and only fitting in as a part-time player. The answer is likely somewhere in between.
Wong really struggled against LHP last season. It could've been due to injury. It could've just been a decline in his ability. Maybe it was just a blip, and he will go back to his prior success. Check out some of his splits over the last few seasons while remembering that Kolten Wong is a lefty. Also, I expanded 2020 to show his AB for a full season.
2022 vs LHP
2022 vs RHP
2021 vs LHP
2021 vs RHP
2020 vs LHP
2020 vs RHP
Career vs LHP
Career vs RHP
By no means do I think he is going to struggle like he did in 2022 against LHP. He's shown a decent ability to hit them in his career, although it is clear that he hits RHP better. This isn't the type of split where you need to replace him mid-game if a LHP comes in, but he will likely sit plenty of games where a LHP is set to start on the mound.
So, what do I think we see from Kolten Wong this year? He's probably going to play 120 games or so, leading the way as the starting second baseman for the Mariners. He's got a nice power/speed combo, as he has hit 82 HR and stole 117 bases in his 1100 games played. Something in this realm seems realistic for Wong in 2023 for the Mariners.
Of course, the R and RBI totals are going to change based on where he sits in the lineup. There is a chance, I believe, that Wong could be the Mariners leadoff hitter if they decide that they don't want Julio there. This would drop the RBI totals for Wong but massively increase his R scored on the season. You might just see a nice jump in SB from him as well as pitchers take more caution pitching to the meat of the Mariners lineup.
All in all, I think we are getting a great season from Kolten Wong. Not as good as the 5.1 WAR season back in 2019, but something in the mid 3s seems completely plausible for the Mariners and Wong in 2023.