Photo Credit: Otto Gruele, Jr./Getty Images
Editor's Note: This is the first installment in a new series that runs every Monday regarding the Seattle Mariners.
As of yesterday, the Mariners ranked 26th in runs, 29th in batting average, and dead last in OBP and slugging percentage. But the rise of catcher John Jaso has been a bright spot for the offense.
Jaso was acquired last winter from the Rays for reliever Josh Lueke, who after posting a 6.06 ERA in 32.2 innings for the M’s last year, clearly didn’t seem to be in future plans for the club. So when he got traded for a catcher with a career average of .257, no one thought much of it. Now, Jaso is batting .289 with 59 hits and an astonishing 37 walks in just 204 at bats.
Jaso has somehow found his way into the Mariners’ long term plans it seems, with his name often tossed around with Mike Zunino and Jesus Montero as future catchers. But while being discussed for the future, he continues to lose starts to aging strikeout machine Miguel Olivo. Olivo, in 238 at bats, has only 4 walks, 61 strikeouts, 9 home runs, 51 hits, and a .218/.231/.376 slash line. Jaso beats Olivo in every category except home runs, but even there, Jaso (with 34 less AB’s) theoretically would either tie or beat Olivo due to the fact that he has a 25.3 AB/HR ratio.
In the post all-star break, Jaso ranks 6th in home runs, 8th in RBI’s, tied for 1st in steals, 6th in walks, 5th in AVG, 2nd in OBP, 4th in slugging percentage, and 3rd in OPS. He does ALL that, while ranking 22nd in AB’s. If the M’s would give him some more playing time (instead of Olivo) imagine the damage that Jaso might be able to do.
It is worth noting that his BABIP is a little high for his career average at .317 (career avg is .278), however that may have something to do with his slugging percentage, which is through the roof at .500. Also, Jaso’s wOBA (weighted on-base percentage) is at .391. Joe Mauer’s wOBA is .373. That’s right. You can make a case that John Jaso, OUR John Jaso, is as good, if not better than Joe Mauer, at least right now.
So what does all this mean? Nothing really. No matter what, the Mariners will keep playing Miguel Olivo in all likelihood. By showing that the team has little interest in playing Montero at catcher, this is the ideal time to give the full time job to Jaso. And considering that in the month of August he’s batting a .343/.455/.657 slash with 3 home runs, I’d say it’s time to give him the reins.