Seattle Mariners: 5 Reasons Jack Cust Is an Upgrade Over Russell Branyan

Tyler Robinson@trob2416Contributor IIFebruary 8, 2011

Seattle Mariners: 5 Reasons Jack Cust Is an Upgrade Over Russell Branyan

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    Felix Hernandez took the Cy Young last year after going 13-12 for Seattle. He went 1-9 when the Mariners scored two runs or less, and had the lowest run support of any pitcher in baseball.

    Seattle needs some help in the bat department.

    In homers, RBI, batting average, runs scored, on base, slugging and OPS, the Mariners were the majors' worst offensive team in every department.

    The 513 runs that the Mariners managed to score were the lowest in the designated hitter era.

    This offseason the Mariners added Jack Cust and parted ways with Russell Branyan.

    Seattle brought in Branyan back in 2009, and the organization believed that he could be a run producer in the middle of the lineup. He was productive when he played, jacking 31 homers in just 116 games back in 2009; but that was the problem. Branyan often found himself on the disabled list.

    The Mariners hope Cust can come in and an anchor an offense that is so very desperate for some power.

    Cust and Branyan look very similar on paper, but the Mariners made a major upgrade when they added Jack Cust to their lineup.

1. Cust Gets On Base

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    Doesn't he strike out a bunch?

    Yeah, he's led the league in K's three different times. 

    Cust also led the league in walks back in 2008 and was second in 2007 (he led the league in K's and walks back in 2008; kind of a funny stat). 

    While he only has a career batting average of .245, his career on-base percentage is .378.

    Ichiro's career OBP is .376.

    His plate discipline helps counter his high whiff rate. 

2. He Can Play Every Day

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    Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, A-Rod, Manny, Russell Branyan, Carlos Delgado, Prince Fielder and Ken Griffey Jr.

    Those are the top 10 active leaders in home runs per at-bat.

    Branyan is seventh; can you believe that?

    Unfortunately, he has only managed to play over 100 games in a season three times in his 13-year career. He often found himself on the DL, and could never put together a complete year.

    Cust, on the other hand, has never been on the DL. In Oakland he often had to sit when the A's faced a left-handed pitcher.

    This will be the first year Cust will be an everyday player.

3. Pure Raw Power

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    They used to tell Paul Bunyan stories about him in his high school days.

    There was this kid out of New Jersey who was knocking the ball to the moon, and he did it on the reg.

    Cust is one of baseball's most powerful hitters in the game today. From 2007-2009, Cust averaged 28 homers. He was one of baseball's most feared hitters during that time, having been walked over 100 times in 2008 and 2009.

    If Cust can cut back on the K's, he could potentially be a 35 homer, 100 RBI guy in Seattle.

4. Run Production

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    For as much power as Branyan possessed, he really didn't produce very many runs. The 34-year-old DH has only driven in over 60 runs once in his entire career (76 RBI in 2009). Last year he hit 25 home runs, but only had 57 RBI in the process.

    Cust has driven in over 70 runs in the three full season's that he played in Oakland.

    Neither guy jumps off the charts in the RBI department, but Cust has demonstrated that he can bring runners in when he's given the opportunity.

5. Veteran Leadership

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    Seattle has a handful of young guys that they are hoping to get production out of next year. Adam Moore, Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak should all see lots of action in the upcoming season.

    The Seattle Times has reported that Cust has already challenged the youngsters to step their game up another level (

    Cust is going to be thrust into a leadership role when the 2011 season starts, and it looks like he's embracing his new role.

2011 Outlook

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    We've seen glimpes of what Cust can do in his days in Oakland.

    He has tremendous power and possesses great plate discipline.

    For the first time in his career Cust is going to be an everyday player. He will no longer be a spot or situational guy. He'll probably bat fourth or fifth in Seattle's lineup, and he's going to be the guy that the Mariners rely on to drive in runs.

    Seattle's top RBI man last year was Franklin Gutierrez with 64, and Russell Branyan led the team with 15 bombs. Cust should be able to put up significantly larger power numbers for Seattle's squad this season.