Seattle Mariners: Biggest Disappointments of 2013 so Far
Overall, the 2013 season has been a disappointment in the eyes of most Seattle Mariners fans. The roster was boosted with some veteran bats, and the crop of young talent was supposed to complement one of the best pitching staffs in baseball from a season ago.
But the pitching has been inconsistent and downright awful at times. The offense leaves way too many runners on base and rarely comes through in clutch situations.
At one point, this club was one game under .500 and looked like they had a shot at making a run. Then they went on a week-long losing streak and haven't put much of a run together ever since.
The Mariners are currently in third place in the AL West at 32-40, 10.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the division lead. They have one of the worst run differentials in baseball (-57), and relief pitchers are 5-12 with a 4.49 ERA.
With nearly the same bullpen from a season ago, the struggles don't make much sense. Yes, two of their top relievers in Josh Kinney and Stephen Pryor have spent nearly the entire season on the disabled list, but most relievers' numbers are down from last season.
Here are the most disappointing Mariners this season based on anticipated production.
All stats and information via ESPN.com, MLB.com, MiLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com.
Recently demoted closer Tom Wilhelmsen emerged as a confident, viable closer last season upon the departure of Brandon League. He got off to a great start this year, converting each of his first 11 save opportunities, giving up only one run in the process.
Then he blew his first save of the season against the Cleveland Indians. The resulting loss derailed his season and perhaps the Mariners' as well, beginning an eight-game losing streak. Wilhelmsen gave up five runs in the ninth to the Houston Astros and has since relinquished closing duties. With no other clear candidate for closer on the roster, hopefully Wilhelmsen can bounce back and at least save face the rest of the way.
Prior to the season, Dustin Ackley's performance was highly anticipated after he failed to replicate the success he had during his rookie season. After accumulating a .205 batting average through 45 games, the former second overall pick was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma.
The demotion was a bit of a blessing in disguise, though, as it made room for highly touted prospect Nick Franklin to see his first big league action, and he's been impressive. Ackley is also tearing up the minors, hitting .383 with a 1.008 OPS. The demotion should give him confidence, and one would hope he'll bounce back once he returns to the majors.
How unlucky is this guy? He got off to a blazing hot start, launching four home runs in 11 games. Then he attempted to do what he does best and make a Gold Glove play in center field and landed on the disabled list once again with a hamstring injury.
His injury problems are an unfortunate situation. At what point do the risks outweigh the rewards, forcing the Mariners to part ways with Gutierrez? His contract includes a team option following the end of this season, so it'll be interesting to see how Guti recovers and performs the rest of the way.
Michael Morse was added over the offseason to provide a big bat in the middle of the lineup, and for the most part, he's done just that. But he's been bit by the injury bug several times this season, which has kept him out of the lineup too frequently, severely limiting his production.
After going deep six times in the season's first nine games, Morse got hurt and has been in and out of the trainer's office ever since. He has hit just five home runs in his last 45 games and is currently day to day with a sore quad. You can see the disappointment on his face. It's been that kind of year for the Mariners.
Outfielder Michael Saunders has never been a great hitter, but after last season, when he significantly raised his batting average and clubbed 19 homers and stole 21 bases, things were looking up. Saunders has taken a step backward this season, as he's hitting .206/.297/.320. He does have 10 steals, and he provides speed and a solid glove to replace Gutierrez in center field.
Who has been the most disappointing Mariner this season?
Saunders is 26, so there's plenty of time for him improve, but will Seattle wait around for him to do so?
There are other players who haven't lived up to expectations this season (Montero, Smoak, Harang, Ryan), and I encourage you to share your thoughts with me in the comments section and on Twitter.
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