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MLB Preview: The Best and Worst Case Scenarios for the Mariners Offense

J.J. MatthewsContributor IIIJanuary 23, 2013

MLB Preview: The Best and Worst Case Scenarios for the Mariners Offense

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    With the additions of Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, the Seattle Mariners should no longer resemble the anemic offense that has plagued the franchise for the majority of the last decade.

    However, as many people know, nothing is a given in the game of baseball. If everything had played out the way most people thought last season, the Oakland Athletics would have been eliminated in August, and the Los Angeles Angels would have been the last team standing; not the San Francisco Giants.

    Anything can happen in this crazy game, which is why Mariners fans should be prepared for the best or the worst with the newly constructed Seattle offense.

    Remember, this is best and worse case situations for the current starters and not for prospects who could supplant them. Any projections involving them will most likely wind up in the "worst case scenario" section.

    So without further adieu; let's go over the projected starting lineup for the Mariners and preview what the season could look like from the best and worst case scenarios for those starters.

Dustin Ackley

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    Best Case Scenario:

    Although Dustin Ackley struggled through out the 2012 campaign there are those who believe it was nothing more than a sophomore slump.

    With the additions of Morales and Morse batting behind him in the lineup, Ackley embraces his role as the leadoff hitter and the catalyst for the new Mariners offense, which leads to an increase in his on base percentage.

    He also sees his power numbers increase with the shorter fences but sees a small dip in triples with the smaller gaps.

    When all is said and done, Ackley rebounds from his down 2012 to make the AL All-Star team and propels himself into the discussion as one of the best second basemen in the game.

    Projicktions (See what I did there?) - .275/.360/.425, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 95 R and 20 SB

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Ackley continues to struggle to stay patient at the plate and struggles mightily in his role as the leadoff hitter.

    Right-handers continue to master Ackley at the plate, and he hovers around his .215 average against them from the 2012 season.

    Ackley's power numbers stay the same, but his troubles continue as the gaps in Safeco are no longer quite as cavernous with the new fences.

    Eventually, Ackley is jettisoned from the leadoff role and dropped deep into the lineup just before the All-Star Break.

    Projicktions - .230/.300/.410, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 65 R and 15 SB

Franklin Gutierrez

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    Best Case Scenario:

    Franklin Gutierrez finally shows that he is healthy; just in time for his contract season. Guti flourishes batting the second spot, just in front of Kyle Seager.

    Guti reverts to his 2009 form where he was arguably the best center fielder in the game. The fences continue to play friendly as his power numbers go up and his stat line from 2009 becomes the benchmark for him moving forward.

    He just misses out on the All-Star Game, but his big second half of the season propels him to a decent payday in the offseason.

    Projicktions - .285/.340/.450, 24 HR, 75 RBI, 90 Runs and 20 SB

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Franklin still can't find a way to stay healthy. His track record follows him and makes him just another 'what if' player.

    As good as Guti looked in 2009, Mariner fans never get to see it again as he fails to play half of the season and bids Safeco farewell after the 2013 season.

    Projicktions - .255/.310/.400, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 20 Runs, 4 SB and 60 GP

Kyle Seager

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    Best Case Scenario: 

    Kyle Seager shows that last season was no fluke and turns into the Mariners long-term answer at third base.

    Seager sees a big jump in his power numbers and turns into one of the Mariners three players to hit at least 25 homers. Seager's average increases with more experience at the major league level and proves to be just as valuable a draft pick as his Tar Heel teammate Dustin Ackley.

    Just after the All-Star Break, the organization sees the true value it has in Seager and signs him to a 5-year $50 million extension, making Seager one of the faces of the franchise moving forward.

    Projicktions - .280/.330/.475, 28 HR, 100 RBI, 85 Runs and 15 SB

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Seager regresses across the board as pitchers across the league figure out how to get the youngster out more effectively.

    He starts to struggle equally as much against right-handed pitching as he did against left-handers in 2012.

    Seager struggles in the 3-hole and gets bounced in favor of proven slugger Mike Morse, but still struggles to find his swing lower in the lineup.

    Projicktions - .245/.290/.375, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 50 Runs and 10 SB

Mike Morse

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    Best Case Scenario:

    Mike "The Beast" Morse embraces his return to the Emerald City and becomes an instant fan-favorite all over again.

    Mariner fans are able to look past his poor defense in the outfield as Morse goes on to finish second for the Mariners in homers and runs batted in.

    Morse joins Seager and Morales as the three Mariners to hit for more than 25 homers and sets a career high by the end of the season. Morse gets into the All-Star Game as an alternate and goes on to be the first Mariner in the Home Run Derby since Bret Boone in 2003.

    After all of this, Morse finally decides Seattle is the place for him and signs a 4-year $56 million contract similar to that of Nick Swisher's this offseason.

    Projicktions - .290/.355/.535, 31 HR, 110 RBI, 90 Runs and 1 SB

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Morse proves that he is not the middle-of-the-lineup force the Mariners were looking for and struggles to find a groove in Seattle.

    Although he still puts up mediocre numbers, his defense becomes such an eye-sore for Mariners fans that he gets forced back to playing first base only.

    With the Mariners out of contention, Seattle deals Morse away for a mid-level prospect or two and admit defeat. Meanwhile, John Jaso bats .280 with 20 homers as Oakland's everyday catcher and proves Eric Wedge wrong.

    Projicktions - .270/.340/.495, 14 HR, 40 RBI, 35 Runs and 0 SB

Kendrys Morales

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    Best Case Scenario:

    Kendrys Morales debuts with a bang and earns himself a reputation as an Angel-Killer.

    Morales shows that his second half of last season was no joke and reverts back to his 2009 form and finishes in the top five in the AL MVP. Morales crushes the ball from day one and goes on to lead the Mariners in home runs and runs batted in.

    With Morales batting behind Mike Morse and in front of a reinvigorated Jesus Montero, he turns out to be one of the toughest outs in the game and sets a career highs across the board.

    At the end of the season, the Mariners re-sign Morales to a fat new contract to keep the Mo-Mo-Mo brothers together which prompts Seattle's video production guys to get busy compiling Billy Idol clips.

    Projicktions - .310/.360/.575, 35 HR, 115 RBI, 85 Runs, and 0 SB

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Morales continues to be affected by his freak injury suffered against the Mariners back in 2010.

    He still finds ways to hit, but struggles to stay at first base, creating issues with the lineup. Much like Morse, Morales is a key to the Mariners playoff hopes, which goes out the window with the struggling Morales.

    The Mariners miss the playoffs as Morales has pedestrian numbers, then bolts town and heads to Oakland. Meanwhile, Jason Vargas is the best four-starter in the majors and helps lead a well-rounded Angels rotation to the World Series.

    Projicktions - .270/.335/.490, 20 HR, 75 RBI, 65 Runs, and 0 SB

Jesus Montero

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    Best Case Scenario: 

    Jesus Montero flourishes early as the unquestioned everyday catcher. With the departure of John Jaso, Montero crushes the ball like he did in New York and helps keep super-prospect Mike Zunino in the minor leagues for at least another year.

    Montero keeps pace with his numbers he put up in New York and becomes one of the best offensive catchers in the game.

    Meanwhile, Michael Pineda still struggles to stay healthy for the Yankees, and the Mariners and General Manager Jack Zduriencik come out as the clear winners in the Pineda-Montero trade.

    Projicktions - .315/.385/.490, 22 HR, 90 RBI, 75 Runs and 0 SB

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Montero struggles in his role in Spring Training as the new full-time catcher and watches Mike Zunino mash his way on to the 25-man roster to start the season.

    As Montero struggles behind the plate and with the right-handers who dominated him last season; Mike Zunino continues to play well enough in his spot starts to justify more playing time.

    By the All-Star Break, Zunino has fully taken the reigns as the Mariners' catcher of the future and Montero gets stashed on the bench and becomes a match-up player who only catches games against left-handed pitchers.

    Projicktions - .255/.295/..385, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 40 Runs and 0 SB

Justin Smoak

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    Best Case Scenario:

    Justin Smoak makes like Michael Saunders and works his tail off in the offseason and comes into Spring Training with a purpose.

    Smoak shows why he was the prospect the M's wanted in the Cliff Lee deal and earns the job as the starting first basemen for the season.

    With balance throughout the lineup, Smoak no longer needs to worry about being the vocal point and continues the tear he went on in September.

    By the end of the season, the front office is able to offer Kendrys Morales a reasonable contract; but no longer have to overpay as Smoak is viewed as a viable replacement.

    Projicktions - .280/.335/.440, 24 HR, 85 RBI, 75 Runs and 2 SB

    Worst Case Scenario:

    This one is pretty simple. Smoak continues to struggle in Spring Training while Mike Zunino forces his way onto the roster.

    In order to keep Montero and Zunino, Smoak gets sent down to Triple-A Tacoma and starts the season down there.

    Smoak eventually hits well enough to make the team, but only after Morales or Morse has been traded and the Mariners are all but eliminated from the playoffs.

    He then continues to struggle at the big-league level and officially becomes a bust in the eyes of all Mariners fans.

    Projicktions - .225/.300/.385, 12 HR, 25 RBI, 20 Runs and 0 SB

Michael Saunders

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    Best Case Scenario: 

    Michael Saunders continues his development and becomes a staple in the Mariners outfield for years to come.

    His numbers continue to rise from last season, especially his batting average, and he becomes one of the best bottom-of-the-order hitters in the league.

    With the Mo-Mo-Mo Brothers (trust me, this will become a thing) batting in front of him, Saunders will see plenty of RBI opportunities through out the season.

    Saunders will see his home run total increase as well as the new short fences help some of his 31 doubles from last season turn into round-trippers making him into a 20-20 threat moving forward.

    Projicktions - .285/.345/.490, 20 HR, 85 RBI, 75 Runs and 25 SB.

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Saunders struggles early and has difficulty maintaining his average enough to keep the likes of Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez and Eric Thames from making the outfield a big game of musical chairs.

    Saunders sees his at-bats shrink through out the year as the Mariners try to build up Ibanez' value in order to deal him to a contender in need of a power bat off the bench.

    By the time Saunders starts seeing full-time action again, his confidence is back to where it was in 2010 and he struggles to rediscover what made him such a threat in 2012.

    Projicktions - .220/.290/.405, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 40 Runs and 15 SB

Brendan Ryan

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    Best Case Scenario:

    Brendan Ryan reverts back to his 2009 form and becomes one of the best all-around shortstops in the game.

    Outside of his game-changing plays in the field, Ryan finds a way to bat close to .300 and makes life for Dustin Ackley on top of the order wonderful.

    With Ryan constantly on base, he finishes with a career high in runs scored and keeps Nick Franklin and Brad Miller in the minors for one more year.

    Projicktions - .290/.330/.390, 4 HR, 40 RBI, 65 Runs and 15 SB

    Worst Case Scenario:

    Well, Brendan Ryan continues to hit like he has the last two years.

    Besides his hitting, his defense ceases to be other-wordily and he loses all value that he brings to the team.

    This coupled with Nick Franklin's improvements on his defense is enough to eventually supplant Ryan as the starter right around the All-Star Break.

    Projicktions - .190/.265/.285, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 25 Runs and 6 SB

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