The Mariners have been leading the way in trades this offseason, exactly how you think a Jerry Dipoto led franchise would operate. We already looked at how Teoscar Hernandez could perform based on STEAMER projections. Now, let's look at the other big addition of the offseason to see what they think of Kolten Wong.
Coming over from the Brewers, Kolten Wong has had a pretty successful career so far. He's had five seasons with a double double (10+ HR/SB), showing a consistent combination of power and speed that is nice to have from your second baseman. Especially when you realize that, over the last four years, he has slashed at a rate of .269/.346/.420 with an WRC+ of 109.
The two-time Gold Glover struggled a bit in 2022 on defense, but was limited by a bum calf that hampered his range and performance in the field. Pairing a healthy Kolten Wong with Perry Hill makes me think that we should see a return to above-average defense, although the Gold Glove ability might have passed by the 32-year-old.
STEAMER is taking a cautious route with Kolten Wong and his 2023 stats
If you've been reading Sodo for a while, you know that I like to pull stats from the last few years to check on how a player is doing. I feel it's a much better example of their production as opposed to looking at their career numbers. With Wong entering his 11th season, let's take a look at his last few year's average stats, and compare that to the STEAMER projections. With STEAMER and Fangraphs, I'll be using WRC+ as well as their offense and defensive numbers, instead of Baseball-Reference.
2019-2022: .269/.346/.420. 109 WRC+. 135 G. 11 HR, 17 SB, 67 R, 50 RBI, 8.7 OFF, 2.2 DEF, 3.0 fWAR
2021-2022: .262/.337/.439. 113 WRC+. 125 G. 15 HR, 15 SB, 68 R, 49 RBI, 10.3 OFF, -2.6 DEF, 2.5 fWAR
STEAMER: .251/.323/.387. 109 WRC+. 120 G. 12 HR, 14 SB, 56 R, 50 RBI, 5.7 OFF, 1.4 DEF, 2.4 fWAR
You can see that STEAMER is taking the cautious route on his slash line, as well as on his games played. That's a big drop in SLG as well. It is important to note that 2022 really affected his DEF rating. He average 5.84 from 2018-2021 and was a -6.0 in 2022. That calf really does seem like it affected him and was an outlier instead of the new norm.
I know that STEAMER takes the cautious route. It's probably the right way to do it, especially with BA seemingly dropping each year. It does feel like the calf affected his projections a lot. Looking at his performance over the last few years, I think we might see a line closer to this from Wong in 2023.
2023: .259/.341/414. 114 WRC+. 134 G, 14 HR, 21 SB, 72 R, 46 RBI, 9.7 OFF, 3.5 DEF
The steals go up. I think they will for everyone with speed in 2023 with the base sizes changing. He's the starting second baseman, and i'll give him time off for some platoon action and a week or two for injury. If he's going to be leading off for us, there is no reason he won't score a ton. 72 R would be a career high, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him blow past that number.
STEAMER is cautious with Wong, and I think we should be as well. He has a good track record, and I optimistically want to say that Wong is going to dominate, hitting .275/.351/.440 with 18 HR and 25 SB, providing us with 4.5 WAR or something along those lines. Tempered expectations are best, but I think we can expect a little more than what they project and still be on the safe side with Kolten Wong.