We are 2.5 months out from the beginning of the season. It may feel like the doldrums of winter, but they report to Spring Training in about a month, which means that baseball is just around the corner. THANK GOODNESS! It got me thinking... if the Mariners don't make any more moves this offseason, what would their lineup look like?
First, let's talk about the changes the team has seen since the end of 2022. Mitch Haniger is gone, as is Adam Frazier. We all knew that the Mariners would let Frazier walk so that one isn't a surprise. Plenty of us were hoping that the Mariners would be able to bring back Hanny. Once rumors started coming out about the cost (signed for 3/43.5), it was understood that we had seen the last of Haniger in a Mariners uniform.
The Mariners sent out Erik Swanson and Adam Macko to find a replacement for Haniger, getting Teoscar Hernandez in to take his place in RF. Hernandez hits the ball HARD, plays most games, and should be a welcome power addition that strengthens the lineup on a consistent basis.
Then, they sent out Jesse Winker and Abraham Toro for Kolten Wong to solve the second base issue. Toro had lost a bunch of his shine, and the team was fed up with Jesse Winker. Winker was likely going to face an uphill battle in Seattle to regain trust and playing time, and a change of scenery was the right call. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Kolten Wong, and am looking forward to seeing what he brings to the Mariners as their starting second baseman.
Haniger/Frazier out. Teoscar/Kolten in. Although there is still a need for a bat in the lineup, I think we could see something like this for the Mariners lineup in 2023 to start the season.
1. Kolten Wong - 2B (Dylan Moore vs LHP)
2. Ty France - 1B
3. Julio Rodriguez - CF
4. Teoscar Hernandez - RF
5. Eugenio Suarez - 3B
6. Cal Raleigh - C
7. Jarred Kelenic - LF (Pollock vs LHP)
8. DH...? Dylan Moore? Sam Haggerty? Pollock? Murphy? Trammell? Marlowe? TBD?
9. JP Crawford - SS
Wong struggled vs LHP in 2022 (.138/.266/.175) but was good in 2021 (.297/.333/.457). I think if there are any struggles, it instantly goes to Moore vs LHP. They might just do that anyway, as Moore hit .247/.393/.402 against lefties.
It's going to be the same in left, with Pollock taking ABs vs LHP. He slashed .286/.316/.619 in 2022. He will fill in there over Kelenic, who really struggles against lefties, especially with SLG. He wasn't great in general last year, but a platoon for him where he can focus on righties will be a big help.
The big question mark is DH. It's going to be rotational right now, and we will likely see a plethora of hitters roll through there. I'm of the mindset that I want Julio third, when France is healthy, at least. I know he loses some ABs, but I want him in a run scoring position. It's a bit old school, and second is likely the most efficient spot, but there is something about the classic 3 spot with him that makes me giddy.
Unless something happens in advance of the 2023 season, I think something like that is what we are going to see for the Mariners lineup when the season starts up at home at the end of March. Go Mariners!