Due to the Mariners hot start in spring training, it makes it just about as easy to predict a lineup where the whole team struggles. None the less, the M’s will likely feel good about themselves going into the season thanks to their torrid spring offense and lack of a terribly-long flight to Japan.
The Mariners have a lot to look forward to this year. They will likely contend for a playoff spot, or at least a seat at the final table to determine that spot. They will unveil a new, slugging-based offense. They will play in the same division as Houston. And they will play in the same division as Houston.
In all seriousness though, the Mariners are unveiling a new offense that is laden with power. Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez and friends will lead an offense that has the ability to be a top offensive unit.
As of now, the M’s official depth chart lists Morse, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders from left to right in the outfield. That more or less is what it will look like. You’ll see a good deal of Ibanez and the underrated Casper Wells in the corners as well.
The left side of the infield is pretty set in stone, with second base The entire infield except for first base is pretty set unless that itchy rash that is injuries rears its ugly head. Catcher is also set with Jesus Montero taking the bulk of the duties there with Miguel Olivo gone.
With the ghost of Ichiro doing nothing for the M’s, they need a leadoff hitter, which is not something any of the current starters scream. Franklin Gutierrez could be a fit, but is probably better suited hitting after the big boys. Brendan Ryan certainly has the speed to be a lead-off guy, but his batting average sometimes prompts the word “ugly” to be used in synopsis.
It really falls down to Dustin Ackley. Ackley hit .228 leading off games last year. Not an exceedingly encouraging number, but there is the potential to be better seeing as he hit .250 when leading off all innings. Ackley has also been on a tear in spring training, hitting an impressive .353 as of Monday.
Here’s what the M’s lineup should be looking like:
- Dustin Ackley, 2B. Seems the best choice.
- Franklin Gutierrez, CF. Guti is almost the best bet here by default. Ryan is better suited for the bottom of the order. Morse, Morales, Kyle Seager, and a newly-minted, thanks to a torrid WBC, Grand Torrido, as well as Michael Saunders, are better bets for the middle of the order. Jesus Montero could be a fit due to his potential to hit for average, however if the M’s are willing to put that kind of pressure on their young catcher remains to be seen.
- Kendrys Morales, DH. Morales went bonkers in 2009 when he hit 34 homers, drove in 108 runs and hit .306. If he produces a season half as good as that, or something along the lines of last year when he hit 22 bombs, drove in 73 and hit .273, then the Mariners will benefit hugely.
- Mike Morse, LF. One of my favorite anecdotes, Morse hit .492 over 25 games in 2008. All that can buy you one Ryan Langerhans!!! WOOO!!! Morse isn’t going to hit that, but if he, like Morales, can hit somewhere along the lines of a previous season of his (2011, 31 HRs, 95 RBIs and a .303 BA) the M’s will be ecstatic
- Grand Torrido, RF. Here’s Michael Saunders spot in the order, and I’ll tell you why. Put him behind two quality hitters in the five hole and he will produce. He isn’t going be as prone to make people use “bonkers” when describing his play, but a 20-home-run season may await.
- Kyle Seager, 3B. The one Mariner not losing his mind, or maybe he is, in spring training with a batting average near .200. This isn’t any indication of future success, but Seager will hit well here behind Torrido and the big boys.
- Jesus Montero, C. Had it not been for Seager’s previous breakout campaign, Montero and Seager’s spots would be reversed. Either way they are going to be a good combination for six and seven spots.
- Justin Smoak/Platoon, 1B. Smoak is continuing the trend of having a good spring training with the bat. He’s hitting .360 as of Monday. If he can sustain something, even a ways away from that, say in the .260 range, he’ll be productive and have a job.
- Brendan Ryan, SS. The defensive wiz can be timely with the bat in clutch situations.
That’s my M’s lineup, what do you think it should look like? Tell me in the comments section below.