The first month of the 2013 baseball season is in the books. Hopes were as high as they've been in years for the Seattle Mariners and their crop of young talent combined with some veteran bats, but through 29 games, the offense has remained stagnant and the pitching has been severely inconsistent.
That being said, the team has played more games this season than any other team. In fact, the Twins have played only 23. The Mariners got just one day of rest in April and just completed their 15th straight game without a day off.
Good news though, Seattle gets five days off in May. The bad news, they travel a ton. The M's visit a total of eight cities (including Seattle) in May and play nearly twice as many games on the road as they do at home. At least they'll be rested though, which bodes well for their bullpen, run ragged thus far.
Before I grade Seattle's individual players through one month, I'll first grade the team as a whole.
There have been bright spots, but overall the Mariners pitching staff isn't getting it done this season. It ranks near the bottom of the league with a 4.13 ERA and 115 earned runs allowed. It has held hitters to a respectable .246 average, but many of those hits have gone for extra bases, emphasized by a league-worst 38 home runs allowed.
The pitching was so strong last season, and with very few changes to the staff, it was expected to have a repeat performance. Maybe the new Safeco Field dimensions have hurt pitchers more than they've helped hitters to this point.
The power numbers are up, buts the runs aren't. The Mariners have a burning case of LOB (runners left on base), and as a result, the offense is scoring just 3.32 runs per game. A total of seven bases have been swiped, which is last in the league, and 219 strikeouts against 79 walks doesn't help the cause. The hits are coming, but not driving in any runs. The home runs are coming, but with nobody on base. For the Mariners to be a good team, they need to move runners along much more than they have been and play more small ball.
The defense has been solid once again this year. The team ranks third and fourth in fielding percentage and errors, respectively. One area that needs improvement is throwing out base stealers. Jesus Montero and Kelly Shoppach have thrown out just three would-be base stealers in 19 attempts, which makes the pitching look much worse than it is given the low WHIP and strong K/BB ratio.
Overall Grade: B-
So far, the Mariners are underachieving and have the ability to turn things around. Many players are finding their swings and helping to rack up double-digit hit totals in the box score. The starting rotation is good for two-three quality starts per week, and that total needs to improve for the team to contend in a competitive American League. Increasing RISP averages and decreasing GIDP totals are also key, and those issues correlate and equally contribute to Seattle's offensive problems.
Without further adieu, here are grades for every Mariners player this season.