30 Teams in 30 Days - Mariners

Overview - It has been 15 years since the Mariners last made the playoffs. 2001 was the year they tied the record for most wins in a season with 116. It was also the debut of Ichiro Suzuki. They lost in the playoffs that year to the Yankees so they never made it to the World Series, just one of two teams never to appear in a World Series. The Washington Nationals are the other team. Myworld predicts they will make it to the playoffs as one of the two wild card teams. Whether they appear in the World Series is another story. Last year they almost made it into the playoffs, contending until the last week of the season. Better years from Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma would help them in their quest.

Weaknesses - Their outfield has got to be one of the weakest in baseball. Jarrod Dyson will try to show he is not a fourth outfielder type as he bats in the leadoff position. He has speed and a top rate glove but his bat can be called into question, especially for its lace of pop. Mitch Haniger had a nice AAA season for the Diamondbacks. Myworld will be surprised if he can replicate those numbers against major league pitching. Leonys Martin is a decent centerfielder with some pop and good speed. Expect Tyler O’Niel to be called up by mid-season. Nelson Cruz should see most of his time at designated hitter. He has hit 40 plus homeruns for three seasons in a row now, but his outfield defense is dicey. First base will be a platoon between well travelled Danny Valencia, who spent the bulk of his early career as a backup and Dan Vogelbach, a Prince Fielder type who spent most of his 2016 season in the minors. Defense is not either one of these players strengths. D.J. Peterson is on call in the minors should one of these players struggle. The Mariners have also waited a long time for Mike Zunino to reach his number one potential. He may be what he has shown the last couple years, a low .200 hitting catcher who plays decent defense behind the plate. The veteran Carlos Ruiz will act as his backup, but he doesn’t have much left in the tank.

Strengths - Kyle Seager is a solid player who hit 30 homeruns last year with a .858 OPS. He struggled a bit against lefthanders but the Mariners have few options behind him. Robinson Cano will be 34 next year but he was one shy of joining Nelson Cruz in the 40 homerun club. It was his best season since signing his big contract with the Mariners. Jean Segura had a career year with the Diamondbacks last season hitting .319 with 20 homeruns and 33 stolen bases. That was while playing as a second baseman. He will be playing shortstop for the Mariners, a position he played for the Brewers a couple years ago. Nelson Cruz is a big bat at the DH spot. It will be hard for him to make it four in a row as far as 40 homerun seasons since he will be hitting 37 in 2017. The Mariners need a better year from King Felix Hernandez, who had a couple awful outings which hiked his season ending ERA to 3.82. If this is the start of a slide the playoff picture could get cloudy. Hisashi Iwakuma no longer has the velocity to overpower hitters but the Mariners do not have a lot behind him. The duo of Edwin Diaz and Steve Cishek should make the Mariner bullpen formidable after the eighth inning.

Impact Prospects - There is not a lot in the outfield to prevent Tyler O’Neil from getting a callup by mid season if he can repeat his 2016 numbers. Tyler has a nice power bat the Mariners could use in the outfield. Dan Vogelbach was acquired from the Cubs to take over at first base. He has the physique of Prince Fielder but despite his size is agile at first base. He can hit for average and power but his speed will clog up the bases. D.J. Peterson is another option here should Vogelbach struggle. Peterson is not as consistent a hitter but he equals in power. Dillon Overton was acquired from the Athletics recently and could fill a lefthanded role in the bullpen, though he was a starter in the minors. Mitch Haniger will be given the right field job based on his minor league numbers last year. If Tony Zych is healthy his high 90s heat should contribute in the bullpen. He missed a lot of time last year because of shoulder issues. James Pazos is another lefty for the bullpen. The Mariners acquired him from the Yankees.

Prospects to Watch - Their best prospect is probably outfielder Kyle Lewis. His season was cut short by injury last year after he showed off impressive five tool potential. Another outfielder with five tool potential is Brayan Hernandez who the Mariners signed for a $1.85 million bonus in 2014. He will turn 20 this year and may see his first season in a full season league. Thyago Vieira is a Brazilian who throws triple digit heat. A lack of secondary pitches and poor control will keep him in the bullpen, but an explosive fastball could make him a closer.

Expected Finish - It will be a battle to the end but if their starting pitching holds out the Mariners should finish in second and make it as one of the two wild card teams. Jerry Dipoto keeps filling the roster with role type players that can offer at least one top rated skill that will contribute to victories.

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