Since the horrendous charity game against the Padres to start the Spring, the Mariners have been on a roll. They’ve won four in a row, and each Smoak and Gutierrez dinger raises my expectations for the coming season a little more.
The M’s have already hit 10 homers. They only hit 28 in 2012 Spring training. Obviously all Spring training stats must be taken with a grain (or handful) of salt, but hey, 10 homers!
Gutierrez’s homer against the Brewers today was an absolute monster-mash. He would not have been able to muster a moonshot like that in 2011 or 2012. This means he is back at full strength, and that the M’s (could) have a sensational threat in centerfield. If Guti remains healthy the whole year, the M’s could have a 30-year-old center fielder with a 5.0+ WAR, similar to his 2009 season. Who needs Michael Bourn? Josh Hamilton has had only one season with a WAR over 5.0.
Justin Smoak has gotten me really excited. Could his two homers mean he’s finally primed to maintain his September success? Since these are Spring training numbers it’s best to compare them to…Spring training numbers! Last year he had zero homeruns in Spring training. Same level of competition. Similar(ish) weather. Much different result. Perhaps his whole season will produce a much different result.
In other Spring training news, Michael Morse is striking out all the time. Dustin Ackley hit a triple, flashing some speed on his fresh, surgically healed ankle. Brendan Ryan, the other Mariners 2012 starter to go under the knife this offseason, hit a homer. Not going to say he’s going to be a magician with the stick this year but a homer certainly isn’t a bad thing.
Jason Bay is showing some plate discipline with two walks already in six plate appearances. Nick Franklin stole a base, perhaps proving that all of his weight gain hasn’t slowed him down. Or perhaps he got lucky.
Other than that, small sample sizes are killing any chance to be insightful and analytical, but it’s still good to try. Perhaps in a week it’ll be more beneficial to look at player’s stats and performances, like when Brendan Ryan isn’t batting .500 with a 2.000 slugging percentage.
I haven’t been covering each Spring game and I don’t think I will. I’ll probably do weekly Spring action recaps like this one with some projections mixed in here and there.
Anyway, cheers! Baseball is here.