(Here’s is today’s Mariners’ minor-league report, with news of Brandon Maurer coming out of his Tacoma start yesterday because of a back injury, and the pro debut of first-round draft pick DJ Peterson).
This was to have been the season that the Mariners finally had a representative offense. The kids were ready to blossom. The veterans were ready to lead them. The fences were moved in. Eric Wedge’s vision of the proper hitting M.O. had two seasons to register and coalesce. It was all systems go, particularly after the Mariners battered the ball throughout March and April in Arizona.
Well, here we are nearly halfway through the season, and guess what? The Mariners offense is just as bad as ever. OK, it’s not quite as feeble as it was during the epic 2010 meltdown, but their scoring is actually down from last year, and that’s a very alarming trend. Sure, the Mariners have been battling some injuries, but the biggest problem has been that many of the players who were expected to took strides have instead regressed. That, coupled with the injuries, has led to too much reliance on veterans who should be role players, and rookies who are still finding their way in the majors (though to be fair Nick Franklin is already giving them one of the better at-bats on the team). Right now, the M’s look old, broken down and slow, except where they look young, raw and inconsistent. We won’t even get into Michael Saunders, a tweener between vet and kid who is mired in a massive slump.
In 73 games, the Mariners have scored 252 runs, an average of 3.45 per game. That ranks 26th out of 30 MLB teams, and 14th out of 15 American League teams. And it also represents a decline in scoring from last year — and we all remember what an offensive juggernaut they were in 2012. Their team batting average of .234 is precisely where the Mariners finished last year. Their on-base percentage of .299 is barely ahead of last year’s .296, as is their slugging percentage of .376 (they were at .369 last year). The M’s current OPS of .675 is thus only marginally better than last year’s .665, but nowhere near where it needs to be for the Mariners have an offense you can contend with.
Keeping in mind that the hot summer months are traditionally a boon for batters, so some increases can be expected, here is how the Mariners’ current offensive stats compare to their showing in the previous four years of the Jack Zduriencik regime. Number in parentheses is their MLB ranking in the statistic:
2013: 3.45 runs per game (26); .234 BA (27); .299 OBP (24); .376 slug (24); .675 OPS (26).
2012: 3.82 RPG (27); .234 BA (30); .296 OBP (30); .369 slug (30); .665 OPS (30).
2011: 3.43 RPG (30); .233 BA (30); .292 OBP (30); .348 slug (30); .640 OPS (30).
2010: 3.17 RPG (30); .236 BA (30); .298 OBP (30); .339 slug (30); .637 OPS (30).
2009: 3.95 RPG (28); .258 BA (t21); .314 OBP (29); .402 slug (23); .716 OPS (26).
The Mariners are on pace to score 559 runs in 2013, which would be 60 fewer than last year. They’re going to have to have a massive second-half upturn to keep this from being another frustratingly barren offensive season, despite all the high hopes.