Catcher: Mike Zunino when it is comes to defense he is among the best in the American League however his hitting still needs to improve for the Mariners to get to the next step. We see the potential in him offensively however the Mariners need help to go along with him at catcher. None of the other catchers did any better than Zunino when it came to hitting and their defense was OK but not as good as his. Chris Herrmann was probably the best among the backup catchers the Mariners used during the season. I hope if the Mariners keep him his defense will be better so he can catch more often. It would be nice if they would use Zunino one game less per week so his whole game is good. Grade C+
First base: Most of the season Ryon Healy was the first baseman. He played in 133 games with 27 home runs and 73 rbi’s. His defense was probably better than any of us expected. I hope his batting average increases next season above .235 he had this season. At this point though what is going on with Cano and Gordon it is hard to know whether the Mariners will keep Healy or not. The Mariners could get some good prospects for him or player to help out at another position. Robinson Cano started ten games at first base on his return from suspension. He didn’t look good fielding at first base so how much he will be playing there will be anyone’s guess.
Dan Vogelbach played limited action at first base playing in 18 games. He had a low batting average but did show off his power when he spent time on the major league club. He was the player of the year playing for the Tacoma Rainiers. If he makes the ball club in 2019 may spent time at dh well as first base. Dipoto may trade him as well. Grade B-
2nd base: Robinson Cano started out the season as the second baseman until late May when he first was injured than suspended for 80 games. He was playing fine ball before the suspension and did so on his return as well. While he was gone Dee Gordon played second base doing a fine job defensively however an injury to his toe cost him offensively. He had a batting average around .300 when he was hurt and had to go on the disabled list but slumped when he returned ending up with a batting average of .262. In the second half of the season the Mariners moved him to the bottom of the batting order because of his slump. The work of Haniger at the leadoff spot Gordon likely will continue in the bottom of the batting order. The question going into next season will he continue playing second base or return to center field. It is obvious he is a better second baseman than centerfielder. Grade B-
3rd base: Kyle Seager again was the third baseman who played there majority of the season. Although he played defensively very good at times we could see he wasn’t the third baseman we were accustomed to also his offensive wasn’t good all season. He hurt his toe in July which meant that his hitting continued to suffer. He wasn’t hitting well at all during the season. I believe the Mariners should have taken him out of the lineup at times because we could see how much he struggled at the plate. Of course he wanted to continue playing however Servais should have made the decision to bench him for a short period of time instead of a couple games. The unfortunate thing though the Mariners didn’t have anyone to replace him at third. Another thing they could have dropped him in the batting order as well but they had really no one to put him in the fifth spot either. We hope the Mariners are able to get back the Seager we know and add depth at the position as well. His batting average lowered to .221 and he had 22 home runs the lowest amount the last few years. Grade D
Shortstop: Jean Segura had another solid season far as playing the game. It sounds like his attitude with other players has to improve. I am sure manager Scott Servais had a good talk with him. Again he had a solid season at the plate batting over three hundred. He does play solid shortstop though he does look erratic at times. He makes the routine play majority of the time and has a strong arm allows him to make some outstanding throws to. He does a good job batting second in the lineup however I wonder how he would do if Servais moved him to the fifth spot in the order and the Mariners can hit Kyle Seager in a different spot in the order. Grade B+
Left Field: Here is a position having its ups and downs during the season especially early on. The Mariners signed Ichiro late in spring training because Ben Gamel was hurt and couldn’t start the season. Ichiro was platooning with Guillermo Heredia at the beginning of the season however he only played in 15 games getting nine hits in forty-seven at bats for a batting average of .205. He looked like he was done for his career though he will come back next spring training. He spent the rest of the season working for the front office though he was at every game even taking batting practice and later on throwing batting practice.
The big change in left field happened in May when the Mariners traded for Denard Span along with setup reliever Alex Colome. Span had a solid time playing primarily in left field. He played in 94 games for the Mariners. He hit a solid .272 and was only among a few who didn’t have a bad second half of the season. He started mainly against right handed pitchers then pinch hit at some point in the game when a lefty started. Ben Gamel played some left field well as right field. He spent most of August in triple A because the Mariners had picked up Cameron Maybin from the Miami Marlins. Guillermo Heredia played some in left field as well primarily when the other team was starting a lefty. There was controversy when Heredia was sent down to Tacoma when Ichiro was on the team and Gamel was reactivated. Heredia was hitting well then however after he returned to take Ichiro’s spot he never was the same at the plate. His defense continued to be solid though. With the presence of Span in left field however because of so many changes with players at the position I give a grade of C+
Center Field: the position started out with Dee Gordon doing a fine job especially learning a new position however when Robinson Cano was injured/suspended he was sent back to play second base. Guillermo Heredia for a while played a lot of center field when Gordon went back to second base however he ended up struggling at the plate. In August after acquiring him at the trading deadline on July 31 the Mariners had him playing in center field initially however he never really looked like he fit in to the team. He wasn’t much better than Heredia at the plate. So when the Mariners were facing right handers they put Mitch Haniger in center field with Span in left and Ben Gamel in right. Heredia would come in the game late for defensive purposes. Though Heredia did a fine job in center field the Mariners still feel right field is his best position. Grade C+.
Right Field: Mitch Haniger was the primary right fielder for the Mariners although he played some in center field later on in the season. He had a solid season where he ended making the all-star team. Also he was named the team’s MVP. He excelled wherever he batted in the lineup. He started the season batting sixth however moved to cleanup when Cruz was hurt for a short period. Late in the season the Mariners moved him to leadoff hitter where he really excelled batting near .333. So right now the Mariners see Haniger as the leadoff hitter along with playing in right field when next season starts. He batted .285 on the season with 26 home runs and 93 rbi’s. I see him becoming a superstar. Ben Gamel played 40 games himself in right field when Haniger was playing in center. He had a solid time playing the position as well. My grade A.
Designated hitter: Nelson Cruz again was the Mariners primary dh playing in 144 games on the season. His batting average .256 was below his career average however at age 38 and not always healthy he still did a fine job. Like most players he did a better job in the first half though he didn’t play as well in second half he didn’t disappear like a lot of the other players did. His home runs and rbi’s were a little bit lower but still excellent he led the team once again in both categories with 37 home runs and 97 rbi’s. Not having Cano ahead of him half of the season still showed a good sign. Having Cruz back next season would be very nice but I can see why Dipoto isn’t looking for a full-time dh. I am not a fan of a full-time dh either but the question is how much will the team lose in offense and his present in the clubhouse if they don’t bring Cruz back. It would be nice to have a better and stronger bench. How it will work though without Cruz is a big question. The other thing without him they could use his salary to go out and pick up a top pitcher whether a number one or two. My grade is an A.
The Mariners though they didn’t make the playoffs which is the ultimate goal and at the end of June we thought the Mariners would be the wildcard team at the very least then the A’s played the best ball in the second half eliminating the Mariners 89 wins did give them the sixth highest win total in the history of team. Also they would have made the playoffs the previous two years as well. You the play of the team in the second half I have to give them an overall grade of B+
Next time on the Mariners I will be looking at the 40-man roster who should stay and those who should go. I know there are those who believe the Mariners should rebuild the team. I am not sure of a total rebuild on the major league roster because of the chore group whether you are talking about the young guys or the veterans. I do believe Dipoto does need to rebuild the minor league system further beginning with the triple A Tacoma. This will come on my next Mariner report. Go M’s.