After 50 games, the Seattle Mariners are off to a 19-31 start and last in the American League West. Are they really this bad? Yes and no.
The team is loaded with stars like Ichiro Suzuki, Felix Hernandez, Chone Figgins, and Cliff Lee. They have young up-and-comers who are playing well like Doug Fister and Franklin Gutierrez. But the pieces of the puzzle never came together the way general manager Jack Zduriencik envisioned.
Only two players with more than 100 at-bats are hitting over .250. Only two players have hit more than three home runs and no one has more than six.
The pitching staff is pulling its weight, posting the 11th best ERA in the Majors, but Zduriencik built this team around pitching AND defense and the defense is 22nd in fielding percentage.
How many games this team wins or loses does not matter to your fantasy squad, as long as you get the stats you need. So look to the usual suspects, but be careful because most of them have warts.
You can never go wrong with Ichiro, who’s hitting .340 with 24 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. Hernandez has a 3.50 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 11 starts, but only two wins. David Aardsma is 11 out of 14 in save opportunities but is sporting a 4.41 ERA. Lee is 3-2 with a 3.22 ERA and 42 Ks in his seven starts, but he missed the first month of the season on the disabled list with an abdominal strain. Mike Sweeney has six homers in only 85 at-bats.
The usually reliable Figgins and Jose Lopez are both looking like they don’t know what to do with a bat. Both are hitting below .240, but Figgins is showing signs of life with six hits in his last three games.
Milton Bradley had another one of his notorious meltdowns, but this time he actually took responsibility for his actions. This is an encouraging sign for Bradley going forward as he is dripping with talent, despite his long streak of stupid decisions.
Casey Kotchman still hasn’t learned how to hit when not wearing an Angels uniform. He’s hitting below the famed Mendoza Line but is playing flawless defense. It might be worth a shot to slot Sweeney at first base and take a chance with his poor defense instead of getting next to no production from Kotchman.
A few bright spots are provided by Fister’s 2.45 ERA and Gutierrez’s all-around game of .293, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 24 R, 6 SB. But these youngsters don’t have a track record for this type of production, so temper your expectations for the rest of the season.
Sadly, Ken Griffey Jr.’s career is over. He did his team more good retiring and allowing the team to use his salary on a player who can actually help the team win games than ruining the memories of fans and pulling a Willie Mays moment from 1973. He was one of the all-time greats, just not now.
At the current pace, the Mariners will finish the season 62-100. This team isn’t that bad and will improve as some of their better players right what is wrong. But this is not a playoff squad and a big second half turnaround isn’t in the cards.