Top 15 Mariners for 2023: Kolten Wong is set to surprise at #11
Everyone knew that the Mariners were going to be looking for a second baseman after the 2022 season. Adam Frazier had been a disappointment and wasn't going to be back. (I do think he does well in Baltimore this year). Toro wasn't the answer, and Dylan Moore likely didn't have the skill set to play there for a full season. Enter Trader Jerry, who would send the aforementioned Abraham Toro alongside Jesse Winker to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kolten Wong.
To me, this seems like a deal for players who played below their potential in 2022. We all know about Jesse Winker. After some damning reports came out about him after the completion of the season, it was inevitable that he was going to be dealt. While Wong had none of those personality issues that Winker reportedly had, he did struggle a bit on the field in 2022. At least, that's what people like to tell you.
Kolten Wong comes in as the #11 player for the 2023 Mariners
Wong struggled through an injured calf muscle in 2022, and it seems to have hampered his defensive range and ability a bit. A two-time and back-to-back Gold Glove winner in 2019 and 2020, last year's statistics in the field seem like an outlier instead of the new norm. He might not be at that same Gold Glove level now at the age of 32, but he should provide a dynamic duo up the middle with JP Crawford.
A lot has also been said about Wong's struggles against lefties. Yes, that was definitely the case in 2022, but it hasn't always been the case. A .138/.266/.175 seems out of the norm against his career line of .266/.316/.362 before the 2022 season. The power definitely isn't there against lefties, but he still hits well. Righties are where he finds greater success, posting a line of .277/.357/.489 in 350 ABs in 2022. That was even better than previous seasons and improved his career slash to .263/.341/.414.
We ended up voting Wong 11th for this season, but I really think he's gonna be better than that. Wong had a 118 OPS+ last season, and essentially is a jack of all trades. He's going to give you a decent average, obp, and SLG. He'll hit a decent amount of homers and steal a similar amount of bases. How would you feel about a .269/.346/.421, an OPS+ of 109, with around 12 HR and 16 SB? Cause that's the type of line Wong consistently puts up.
The thing to watch with him this year is going to be where he is at in the lineup. The Mariners might have Julio leadoff. If not, the job is likely Wong's, and that is going to increase his value and production a bunch. A lot more runs, opportunities to steal, and even opportunities to drive in the Mariners quick back of the lineup hitters (Haggerty, Moore, Kelenic).
There is still a good chance that he platoons at second base with Dylan Moore this year, with Wong hitting righties and Moore hitting lefties, but that's totally fine. It will still get him 120ish games and 400 AB's, and a great chance to make an impact in the Mariners lineup. I think Kolten Wong is going to be a lot of fun to have and watch on this M's squad in 2023.