A question I’ve been getting frequently, as the home runs mount for the Mariners (30 in the first 14 games, plus one in yesterday’s rainout, is whether they’re “legit.” That is to say, hit off a pitcher who actually has a major-league pedigree, rather than a journeyman minor-leaguer brought up as late-inning fodder.
This is a slippery slope, because even homers off All-Stars in spring could come with an asterisk, as established pitchers often round into shape slowly and don’t concern themselves much with results, especially early in spring.
Following is a list of all the Mariners home runs so far, including the pitcher and where he spent last season. Nine of the homers came off players who were in the minor leagues all last year, and one other was off Chad Cordero, who was out of baseball completely. Eleven were off pitchers who split time between Triple-A and the majors in 2012. And nine were off pitchers who spent the entire season in the majors, including stalwarts like Matt Cain, Yovani Gallardo and Chris Capuano.
So it’s a mixed bag, with two-thirds of the homers coming off players with at least some major-league experience. And some of the others were against touted prospects, like Brad Boxberger and Sonny Gray. And 22 of the 30 have been hit by players who will either make the Mariners roster or are competing strongly to do so (I’m talking about Casper Wells and Jason Bay in the latter category).
The takeaway is that while most of the homers are “legit” in the sense they were hit by players whom the Mariners are counting on, and against pitchers who for the most part have pitched in the major leagues, it’s still spring training.
Player, date, opponent, inning, pitcher, where pitcher spent last season
1, Casper Wells, Feb. 22, Padres, ninth, off Brandon Kloess (pitched last year at Triple-A)
2, Jason Bay, Feb. 23, Padres, first, off Tyson Ross (A’s/Triple-A)
3, Justin Smoak, Feb. 23, Padres, fifth, off Brad Boxberger (Padres/Triple-A)
4, Mike Jacobs, Feb. 23, Padres, ninth, off Matt Stites (Single-A)
5, Raul Ibanez, Feb. 24, Padres, first, off Freddy Garcia (Yankees)
6, Brendan Ryan, Feb. 25, Angels, second, off Chad Cordero (did not pitch)
7, Alex Liddi, Feb. 25, Angels, seventh, off Matt Oye (Double-A)
8, Franklin Gutierrez, Feb. 26, Brewers, first, off Yovani Gallardo (Brewers)
9, Michael Saunders, Feb. 26, Brewers, first, off Yovani Gallardo (Brewers)
10, Justin Smoak, Feb. 26, Brewers, eighth, off John Axford (Brewers)
11, Carlos Peguero, Feb. 27, Indians, third, off Brett Myers (Astros/White Sox)
12, Carlos Peguero, Feb. 27, Indians, fourth, off Corey Kluber (Triple-A/Indians)
13, Nick Franklin, Feb. 28, Giants, second, off Matt Cain (Giants)
14, Franklin Gutierrez, Feb. 28, Giants, fifth, off Sandy Rosario (Marlins/Triple-A)
15, Carlos Peguero, March 1, Rangers, second, off Randy Wells (Cubs/Triple-A)
16, Michael Saunders, March 1, Rangers, third, off Cory Burns (Padres/Triple-A)
17, Jason Bay, March 1, Rangers, fourth, off Cory Burns (Padres/Triple-A)
18, Michael Morse, March 1, Rangers, fourth, off Neal Cotts (Triple-A)
19, Mike Zunino, March 2, Dodgers, third, off Chris Capuano (Dodgers)
20, Franklin Gutierrez, March 3, Dodgers, third, off Chris Capuano (Dodgers)
21, Kendrys Morales, March 3, Rangers, first, off Justin Grimm (Rangers/Triple-A)
22, Jesus Montero, March 3, Rangers, first, off Justin Grimm (Rangers/Triple-A)
23, Raul Ibanez, March 4, Rockies, third, off Juan Nicasio (Rockies)
24, Kyle Seager, March 4, Rockies, fifth, off Parker Frazier (Double-A)
25, Michael Morse, March 6, Brewers, fourth, off Mike Fiers (Brewers/Triple-A)
26, Kendrys Morales, March 6, Brewers, fifth, off Johnny Hellweg (Double-A)
27, Robert Andino, March 7, A’s, seventh, off Sonny Gray (Triple-A)
28, Stefen Romero, March 7, Royals, fourth, off Guillermo Moscoso (Rockies/Triple-A)
29, Casper Wells, March 7, Royals, eighth, off Michael Mariot (Triple-A)
30, Stefen Romero, March 7, Royals, ninth, off Anthony Ortega (Triple-A)
*(Casper Wells had a homer in the third inning yesterday off Oakland’s A.J. Griffin, slated for the A’s rotation, but the game was rained out before the game became official. Jason Bay has a three-run homer today in a B game vs. the Padres off Robbie Erlin, a Double-A pitcher).