Mariners hope for healthy 2024 from former Twins All-Star

The Mariners are banking on good luck and a career norm season from Jorge Polanco in hopes to solidify the keystone.

Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages
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The Mariners have endured a proverbial black hole at second base since Robinson Cano's departure in 2019. In the past four years, we've seen Kolton Wong, Adam Frazier, Dylan Moore, Sam Haggerty, and a cast of characters who more resembled the island of misfit toys instead of a solid everyday contributor. However, optimism is high as the Mariners head into the 2024 season with a former Twins' All-Star at the keystone, Jorge Polanco

The switch-hitting infielder's last full season was 2021 when he played 152 games. The slash line was spectacular (.269/.323/.826), and he'd launch 33 homers while driving in 98 runs. That's a middle-of-the-order bat at a premium position. Slotting the dynamic Dominican behind superstar centerfielder Julio Rodriguez in the lineup is tempting. However, there are questions surrounding Polanco's availability in recent years. 

Season

GP

AB

WAR

wRC+

2022

104

445

1.8

119

2023

80

334

1.5

118

The 29-year-old infielder is one of those tightly bound athletes who suffer from minor hamstring strains and pulls. The hope is the added depth across the roster and a Mariner training staff who excel at keeping position players available, which will do wonders with Polanco and result in his first full season since 2021. Interestingly, even with the injury history, the former Twin is still a top-five second baseman, and that's not just in the American League, but the entire Major Leagues. 

The Mariner's front office made a concerted effort to increase the contact rate on the 2024 roster. They've jettisoned nearly 700 strikeouts off the roster and replaced them with Luis Urias, Luke Raley, Mitch Haniger, Mitch Garver, and Polanco. The latter could play a decisive part in that effort, as evidenced by his Baseball Savant page; Polanco has a high ability to barrel (88th) and hit the sweet spot (94th). Despite the injuries, he has run double-digit walk rates the past two seasons (14.4 / 10.5) and struck out at league average. It sounds like a great fit, but the key always is avoiding the injury bug. 

Either way, these statistics, and a little good luck might have the Mariners' second base situation the strongest it's been in years.