Seattle Mariners: Who Surprised and Who Disappointed in 2013
Above all, 2013 has been a disappointment for the Seattle Mariners. Safeco Field's new dimensions, a humongous Jumbotron and a power-laden roster were supposed to turn the Mariners into postseason contenders. Instead, they sit in fourth place in the A.L. West, on the verge of yet another 90-loss campaign.
But as always there have been some bright spots; some unknown players to step up and give the baseball world a reason to watch. And as is to be expected with a disappointing team, there have been players that simply haven't lived up to expectations.
Here are the five most surprising and disappointing players of 2013.
All stats via ESPN.com, MLB.com and baseball-reference.com.
Surprise: Raul Ibanez
2013 stats: .248/.308/.496, 27 HR, 62 RBI
41 year old Raul Ibanez has shone bright in an otherwise dull Mariners season. Ibanez leads the club in homers with 27, which is two shy of Ted Williams' record for most home runs hit by a player 41 years or older, according to MLB.com. He also currently leads the team in slugging (.308) and OPS (.496). He's cooled off in the second half after a scorching-hot first few months, but the Williams milestone is still within reach.
Besides Ibanez's gaudy power numbers, he's been extremely durable, playing in 114 games this season. Unfortunately his impressive numbers didn't translate to Mariners success, but they helped make his return to Seattle a memorable one, just as was predicted a few months ago.
Disappointment: Dustin Ackley
2013 stats: .256/.318./.343, 3 HR, 27 RBI
To his credit, Ackley has turned things around since being recalled from the minors, already surpassing some of his totals from last season. But the disappointment lies in the fact that Ackley was sent down in the first place. As a second overall pick, Ackley should have progressed from and built upon his impressive rookie season, but has instead been inconsistent and unpredictable. His inconsistency is evident in his month to month production. Obviously every player's performance is going to fluctuate, but Ackley's stats are largely skewed by a wildly successful August.
That month was Ackley's best, average-wise, of his career. His slash line of .390/.420/.597 is encouraging for the future, and his two home runs and 10 RBI in the month represent most of his run production this season.
It's unrealistic to expect Ackley to replicate his August numbers on a regular basis, but his production from the rest of the season needs to improve, or else he'll be labeled a major bust.
Disappointment: Jesus Montero
2013 stats: .208/.264/.327, 3 HR, 9 RBI (29 games)
Once a top prospect in the New York Yankees organization, Montero's slash lines have gotten progressively worse, and his hitting in general had completely fallen off when he was sent down in late May. In addition, Montero was the least valuable base runner in baseball in 2012.
After struggling and suffering through the first two months of the season, Montero was relegated to the minor leagues, where he hit .250 and missed a ton of time with a torn meniscus. Then wouldn't you know it, ol' Jesus was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
He's only 23, but Montero's window for success is reducing in size fairly quickly, given his massive drop in production and apparent lack of any kind of base running knowledge. With Mike Zunino getting some big league experience this summer, Montero's days in Seattle are surely numbered.
Surprise: Yoervis Medina
2013 stats: 4-5, 2.89 ERA, 1 save, 17 holds, 1.30 WHIP
Rookie Yoervis Medina has been a bright spot in Seattle's disappointing bullpen, leading relievers in innings pitched (69.2), WAR (1.8) and ERA. The 25-year-old right-hander got off to a bit of a rocky start, which is excusable for someone making their major league debut, but has settled down and been one of the M's most reliable guys out of the pen this season.
The highest his ERA has been was 7.71 through 2.1 innings pitched. The real high point was May 20 when it was 3.75, but he's been consistently good since then, and his ERA hasn't been above 3.00 since June 18. Medina is also second among American League rookie relievers in holds.
Disappointment: Michael Saunders
2013 stats: .234/.320/.376, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 12 SB
I had lofty expectations for Saunders coming in to this season, and rightfully so. He set new career highs in literally every offensive statistical category last season and emerged as the Mariners' top stolen base threat. While his numbers from 2013 don't accurately reflect what I thought they'd be, he's performed better this season than he had in any previous season, other than 2012, and hasn't declined that much.
He's drawn more walks and struck out less, both positives. He's made fewer errors and more outfield assists, also positives (although somehow his defensive WAR has gone down). And his OBP is actually higher than it was last year despite the lower batting average.
So in reality, Saunders' season isn't a huge disappointment, but I expected greater things. He's on contract through 2017; so expect him to be a staple in Seattle's outfield, given he doesn't fall off completely.
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