Friday, July 1, 2011

Seattle Mariners midseason report card

By Kshell

The Seattle Mariners were recently swept by the Atlanta Braves which dropped their record to 39-42. That also was the end of the first half of the season. Now many will consider after the All-Star game to be the true second half I figured I'd do a midseason report card. What I'll do is grade on a bit of a curve based on player expectations heading into the season. I'll grade each player on the roster if healthy while posting their stats. I"ll also explain my grade on each player. If you have been following my weekly recaps or the Mariners in general you'll notice the pitching will grade out. The hitting probably won't grade well at all as the hitting for the season has been down right terrible. Also any player like Milton Bradley for an example who was released during the season would receive an F. So I'll start off by grading the regular starting nine.

Hitters, Grade: D

Ichiro, right fielder. Grade: C

Hitting .275/.321/.335 on the season. Has 92 hits, 1 HR, 22 RBI's, 42 runs, 20 SB's

Ichiro is experiencing by far his worst season of his major league career. At the halfway point he is a negative UZR(Ultimate Zone Rating) defender and isn't hitting like he usually does. As you can see Ichiro for the first time in his career isn't on pace to record 200+ hits in a season. Ichiro is still stealing bases just fine as he's on pace for 40 stolen bases. Ichiro is capable of having a big second half which the Mariners are hoping he will do.

Brendan Ryan, Shortstop. Grade: B-

Hitting .252/.317/.306 on the season. Has 61 hits, 0 HR's, 24 RBI's, 23 runs, 3 SB's

Brendan Ryan has been a nice addition to the Mariners this season. I know the local media tends to overrate him due to him being a great interview. He has also played great shortstop defensively and has hit better than I expected going into the season. Ryan has been the #2 hitter in the lineup by default since the Mariners lineup has been so terrible. Ryan has exceeded expectations so far and isn't the problem on offense.

Adam Kennedy, second base/third base. Grade: B

Hitting .264/.304/.410 on the season. Has 56 hits, 6 HR's, 24 RBI's, 25 runs, 6 SB's

Adam Kennedy currently third in the Mariners lineup started the season off as a spring training invite. It didn't take long for Kennedy to take Jack Wilson's job at second base. Then with Dustin Ackley being called up and Chone Figgins struggling Kennedy has taken over at third base. Kennedy is on pace to hit 12 HR's while driving in 48 runners which is way more than even the biggest Mariners homer could have ever predicted.

Justin Smoak, first base. Grade: C+

Hitting .243/.345/.449 on the season. Has 64 hits, 12 HR's, 40 RBI's, 22 runs

Justin Smoak was the key piece in the Cliff Lee trade from the Texas Rangers last year. Smoak currently is slumping badly but for the most part is having a good year. He is on pace for 24 HR's and 80 RBI's which the Mariners would take from him heading into the season. He has a good OB% that will go up when he makes more contact. So far Smoak is progressing well and the Mariners are glad he is part of their future for a while. If Smoak can hit in the .260 range with those power numbers the Mariners will take that for the next decade.

Dustin Ackley, second base. Grade: A

Hitting .300/.378/.575 on the season. Has 12 hits, 2 HR's, 6 RBI's, 7 runs, 1 SB(12 games)

Dustin Ackley the #2 pick overall in the 2009 baseball draft has been great since he has been called up. In 12 games he has flashed some good defense and has been terrific at the plate. Ackley who is a lefty is 6-8 on the season against left handers including three tough left handed specialist and Cole Hamels. I know this is only 12 games but if Ackley does this for a whole season he would have 162 hits, 27 HR's, 81 RBI's, 94.5 runs and 13.5 SB's which would put him in the All-star game ever season as a second baseman. Ackley has definately given the fans one hitter you look forward to watching hit.

Miguel Olivo, Catcher. Grade: C-

Hitting .222/.267/.399 on the season. Has 55 hits, 12 HR's, 38 RBI's, 34 runs, 2 SB's

Miguel Olivo in his second stint with the Mariners is having a weird season. On one hand he is on pace to hit 24 HR's, 76 RBI's and score 68 runs at the catcher position which would be incredible. On the other hand his defense this season has been terrible and he's hitting in the .220 range. His on base percentage is well below .300 which is also horrible. Olivo since most catchers are bad grades as a C- as I thought he was going to be a disaster in Seattle so he has exceeded my expectations barely.

Jack Cust, DH. Grade: D

Hitting .219/.359/.339 on the season. Has 42 hits, 3 HR's, 21 RBI's, 17 runs

Jack Cust was brought in to walk and hit for some power. He is walking as he leads the team in on base percentage amongst those who have played all season long. However he was brought in for power and being on pace for just six HR's and 42 RBI's simply won't cut it. He avoids getting the dreaded F due to his walking. Cust needs to show he can do more than just walk or he won't be on this roster very long.

Carlos Peguero, Left Fielder. Grade: D+

Hitting .202/.264/.412 on the season. Has 24 hits, 6 HR's, 16 RBI's, 14 runs

Peguero wasn't even on the radar heading into the season so for that he avoids an F. He has also shown decent power with six HR's in 119 AB's(one HR every 20 AB's) so that is the good. The bad is his negative UZR rating in defense, his inability to make contact enough, and he never walks. Peguero looks lost at the plate and if he has any chance of ever being a productive hitter he needs to be sent down to triple A. He is striking out over 33% of his at bats so his power is nice but not at the rate he strikes out. The fans have came around on Peguero as I'm no longer an "idiot" for saying he's not very good.

Franklin Gutierrez, centerfield. Grade: F

Hitting .197/.228/.246 on the season. Has 24 hits, 1 HR, 8 RBI's, 7 runs, 2 SB's

Franklin Gutierrez is playing great defense this year and started the season off sick where he lost over 30 pounds. Still through 122 at bats this season he has looked terrible. Gutierrez in the past has been a decent hitter with decent power but this year he has been terrible. He isn't walking either so he is getting out on average seven times out of every nine plate appearance.

Chone Figgins, third base. Grade: F

Hitting .186/.232/.249 on the season. Has 47 hits, 1 HR, 14 RBI's, 21 runs, 8 SB's

Chone Figgins is having one of the most unproductive seasons in Seattle Mariners history. Figgins has over 250 AB's yet is on pace to drive in 28 runs and score only 42 runs. The only people who like Figgins are alcoholics. Due to Figgins piss poor batting average Norm's a local bar in Seattle is selling beer at the price of Figgins batting average every monday for all day long. Figgins who is getting worse as the season is going on is due to be on the DL for "suckitis" at any moment. Figgins is owed 18 million the next two seasons and 4.5 million the rest of this year so the Mariners can't afford to burn 22.5 million dollars. They already lit 12 million dollars on fire by releasing Milton Bradley earlier this season. The Mariners are stuck with Figgins for a while which sucks.

Jack Wilson, second base/shortstop. Grade: F

Hitting .230/.256/.254 on the season. Has 28 hits, 0 HR's, 6 RBI's, 18 runs, 5 SB's

Jack Wilson who has been the Mariners starting shortstop the last season and a half was the opening day second baseman this year. He quickly got in manager Eric Wedge's doghouse and hasn't really done well enough to get out of it. Wilson has been a terrible hitter this season and look for him to be dealt soon as he serves no purpose on this ballclub. Wilson is another expensive contract that is thankfull off the books at the end of the season.

Pitchers, Grade: B+

Felix Hernandez, starting pitcher. Grade: B-

Has a record of 8-7, 3.35 ERA, 1.19 WHIP for the season. Has pitched 129 innings, struck out 124 batters, 2 Complete games and .233 BAA

The reigning Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez has pitched below his capabilities that is for sure. Hernandez has been an innings eater this year as on average he is giving the Mariners a little over seven innings a start. Hernandez has had some dominant starts on the year but too many times he has had a rough inning every other start. Hernandez the Mariners are still waiting for him to have that dominant month which is capable of. As of right now Hernandez is on pace for 258 innings pitched with 248 strikeouts which is quite a lot. I think because Hernandez is so good people forget he isn't having that terrible of a season.

Michael Pineda, starting pitcher. Grade: A

Has a record of 7-5, 2.65 ERA, 1.03 WHIP on the season. Has pitched 102 innings, struck out 99 hitters and .198 BAA

As it stands now Pineda might be the only guy representing the Mariners at hte all-star game unless Hernandez has two dominant starts in his next two starts. Pineda going into the year was supposed to be the teams fifth starter yet he has pitched the best. In fact I'd call Pineda the team MVP for the first half. Pineda has been great this year but you have to be concerned about his workload as he has never thrown more than 140 innings in a season. He is on pace for 204 innings this year with 198 strikeouts. Pineda is the leading candidate for the American League's rookie of the year.

Erik Bedard, starting pitcher. Grade: B+

Has a record of 4-6, 3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP on the season. Has pitched 90 innings, striking out 85 hitters and .222 BAA

Erik Bedard was recently placed on the DL which is never a good thing given his injury past. Bedard for the first half of the season has been terrific. After a horrific first four starts to this season Bedard has been lights out. In his last 11 starts Bedard has pitched 71.1 innings with an ERA of 1.76 and a 0.88 WHIP with 68 strikeouts. Bedard has been great for the Mariners considering going into the year nobody knew what they were going to get from him this has been incredible. Bedard if this latest injury to his knee isn't too bad could win the comeback player of the year award in the American League.

Doug Fister, starting pitcher. Grade: B+

Has a record of 3-8, 3.18 ERA, 1.20 WHIP on the season. Has pitched 110.1 innings, struck out 70 hitters, has 2 complete games and .260 BAA

Doug Fister has been great for the Mariners despite his bad record. He is keeping the team in games with his low ERA and is giving the team innings averaging almost seven innings a start. Fister has done everything and more a team could ask for from their back of the rotation starter. Fister every fifth day is giving the team a quality seven innings just has had a hard time getting run support this year. Fister isn't putting up flashy numbers but is on pace to give the Mariners 220.2 innings this season.

Jason Vargas, starting pitcher. Grade: B-

Has a record of 5-5, 3.88 ERA, 1.21 WHIP for the season. Has pitched 104.1 innings, struck out 68 batters, has 2 complete game shutouts and .241 BAA

Jason Vargas is having a solid season for the Mariners. Vargas my only complaint on him is he needs to be more consistent. Vargas this year too many times is terrific or terrible in a start. Still for basically the Mariners fifth starter Vargas is on pace to give them 208.2 innings pitched this season. Vargas was the fifth best player when Jack Zduriencik traded J.J. Putz and now he is the best player in that trade. Vargas like all the starting pitchers this year have been lights out.

Brandon League, closer. Grade: B

Has 21 saves, 0-4, 3.48 ERA, 1.07 WHIP for the season. Has pitched 33.2 innings, struck out 21 batters and .242 BAA

Brandon League who was supposed to be the set up man this year has done a good job as the closer. He has 21 saves in 24 opportunities which is a little over 85% success rate. League would be having an all-star season if not for one awful week in May. As is League is exceeding most fans expectations and has been lock down closer for the team.

David Pauley, reliever. Grade: A

Has a record of 5-1, 5 holds, 1.44 ERA, 0.87 WHIP for the season. Has pitched 43.2 innings, struck out 27 batters and .184 BAA

David Pauley has been a great story for the Mariners this season. Pauley who was a journeyman failed starter is having an all-star season as a setup man. Pauley began the season as a long reliever then has taken over the eighth inning job this season. Pauley is a big reason why the Mariners are competing so well for the division race.

Jamey Wright, reliever. Grade: B

Has a record of 0-2, 11 holds, 3.18 ERA, 1.35 WHIP for the season. Has pitched 34 innings, struck out 22 batters and .256 BAA

Jamey Wright another setup reliever the Mariners didn't expect much out of this season. He is also like Pauley a failed reliever who is a big reason why the Mariners are contending for the AL West. Wright has slowed down this past month but that shouldn't take away how great he was the first two months. He leads the team with 11 holds as he was the eighth inning man for the first two months. Wright had a good first half and hopefully he continues to pitch like he did in April and May.

Chris Ray, reliever. Grade: C-

Has a record of 3-2, 1 hold, 5.24 ERA, 1.30 WHIP for the season. Has pitched 22.1 innings, struck out 16 hitters and .271 BAA

When the Mariners signed Ray he was supposed to be second setup man. Then with David Aardsma being on the DL he was supposed to be the eighth inning man. Ray was terrible in April but has since recovered. If Ray continues to pitch like he has in May and June the Mariners will gladly take that.

Aaron Laffey, reliever. Grade: A-

Has a record of 1-1, 3 holds, 1.93 ERA, 1.32 WHIP on the season. Has pitched 32.2 innings, struck out 17 hitters and .254 BAA

Just like with most of the bullpen Laffey is another failed starter who is in the bullpen. Laffey the only Mariners left hander in their bullpen has done a pretty good job this season. Laffey has an ERA under two and has been lights out for them out of the bullpen. His recent outing since it is so fresh in my mind is why he didn't receive an A grade. Laffey like the rest of the bullpen has been great this season.

Manager Grade:

Eric Wedge, Manager. Grade: C+

I think Eric Wedge has done a pretty good job in his first season despite the recent struggles of losing 14 of 22 games. The Mariners are on pace to go 78-84 which is a losing season but still a 17 game improvement from last season. I still think Wedge has some room to improve especially his batting order, how he wants every hitter to be a hacker. I do think Wedge for the most part is doing the best he can with what little he has on offense. However you do this Mariners lineup the lineup won't produce many runs as they simply aren't a good offense. With that I'd say Wedge has done an above average job so far this year.

In conclusion, the first half of the season is over for the Mariners. I know it ended in a way that we wouldn't have liked. On the other hand this was a team that I thought would win just 72 games so they have exceeded my expectations so far. Overall I'd give the team the same grade I gave Wedge which is a C+. The pitching has been great while the hitting has been terrible. The one thing I'll point out is at least the Mariners so far have the fans caring again. This first half ended on a bad note and the team is under .500 but the first half of the season mattered. While last year mid May it no longer mattered anymore. So I hope you enjoyed the grades I gave out on the players who had enough evidence to grade(why I left out Mike Carp, Greg Halman and Jeff Gray). The first half ended and hopefully the second half can produce some offense with a few more wins than the first half.

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