Happy Opening Day, everyone (except fans of the Rangers and Astros. You jumped the gun yesterday). Here is my ode to this fine occasion.
The Seattle Times is launching a free online contest in which participants try to predict the Mariners’ monthly home run leader,and the number of home runs he’ll hit. The competition will continue all season with great prizes, including an iPad mini. Here’s where you register. You have until April 10 to make your picks, so you can wait a few games to see how things are developing.
Geoff and I are going to participate as well, though sadly we are not eligible to win. Geoff went with Justin Smoak and predicted six homers. I’m going to hitch my wagon for April with Michael Morse, and go with eight homers. I realize that’s the safe pick, but there’s a reason for that. All spring, Morse looked like he was totally locked in, winding up with nine homers — most in the majors, not to mention a Mariners’ spring record. Morse hit seven in his final 13 games, and three in his last four. Yeah, I’d say he’s ready for the season. He also posted a .357 batting average (20-for-56) and had the highest OPS in the majors (1.332).
A spring-training flash? Perhaps, but Morse also hit nine homers in the spring of 2011 while with the Nationals, and went on to rack up 31 (but only one in April. Uh oh) to go with a .303 average and .910 OPS. Despite the closer fences, the ball is still not likely to travel well at Safeco Field in the cold, damp weather in April. But Morse is one Mariner with the strength to power the ball through any conditions. So he’s my choice to Swing for the Fences. I encourage you to take a shot at it.