Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Two-thirds of the Mariners starting outfielders have been either traded or injured, yet the outfield is the best it’s been in the past several years. Even with Mike Carp, who was supposed to be a huge part of this Mariners lineup out on the DL almost all year and Ichiro traded to the Yankees, this team has found success in some young former prospects.
Michael Saunders has been in the team’s farm system since 2005 and jumped between the bigs and AAA since 2009. We’ve long known that with his size he has easy 20 HR/20 SB capability, but he just hasn’t put it together. Saunders currently boasts a fairly decent .246/.300/.414 slash with a .298 BABIP to go with 14 HRs and 13 steals. With that said, he’s far from perfect. With 108 K’s to just 32 walks, Saunders has much work to be done but he’s finally taken a big step in the right direction.
A recent addition to the outfield this year is Eric Thames who was acquired for Steve Delabar. In 22 games with the M’s, Thames has been hot, with a .271/.311/.500 slash. Add in his 4 HRs and a 23.3 AB/HR ratio, and Thames shapes up as a decent power hitter. Like Saunders however, he does have some work to do. His 5.00 SO/BB ratio is more than double the MLB average. He also is lacking in speed, so power production is his entire value (which the M’s are in desperate need of). You could say he’s been getting a little lucky with his new club, holding a .340 BABIP while his career average (two years) is at .315, but Thames has been a huge reason why the M’s went on their recent hot streak.
He’s short. Speedy. And NOT Chone Figgins. I love him alerady, and that’s without knowing his hilarious and energetic personality. I’m talking about Trayvon Robinson, the former Dodgers prospect acquired in the trade for Erik Bedard. After a .250 OBP last year, he’s upped it slightly to .305. Is it impressive? No, but it’s another step in the right direction. Also, in 84 PA’s (he had 155 last year) Robinson has just 20 K’s to 6 BB’s versus 61 K’s to 8 BB’s last year. What’s more surprising is that his BABIP went DOWN from .346 last year to .315 this year.
Other outfielders this year have included Ichiro, Carlos Peguero, Mike Carp, Franklin Gutierrez, and Casper Wells. Peguero came up for 12 games and struck out 22 times before being sent down. Carp and Guti have spent all but a combined 62 games on the DL, and Ichiro...is gone. Wells has received a decent sum of playing time, with 252 PA’s, but he hasn’t done much with them, batting a mediocre .226 with a .291 OBP. He has managed 8 HRs, but nothing has really stood out besides that. He seems to have a future as a decent platoon bat or a guy coming off the bench.
Coming into the season, Carp was supposed to pick up where he left off with last season's breakout second half. Instead, members of the M’s farm system (and one outsider) seem to have picked up the slack and are using their newly found playing time well. This hopefully is a sign of bright things to come for Mariners fans.