It's been awhile since we've done one of these. Kicking off a weekend series against a team we should (in my biased mind) be able to beat seemed a good time to examine a few of Seattle's leaders. Just percentage points off Minnesota, the Mariners are winners of five of their last seven.
#1: Russell Branyan, .319/.421/.614: You can't say enough about what Branyan has meant to Seattle offense this year, especially when a number of guys (Adrian Beltre specifically) aren't pulling their weight. He's taking a lot of walks, flashing power the likes of which we've never seen in his career, and basically having a breakout season at age 33. Better late than never.
#2: Ichiro Suzuki, .353/.386/.480: He's 35, and showing no signs of slowing down. Contuinually putting the ball in play, Ichiro continues to get his share of infield hits. His strikeout rates are the lowest they've been since his rookie season, but so are his walk rates. For the incredibly talented hitter that he is, if the hits ever stop coming he's going to have to take a few walks to maintain any value. Right now, he's not doing that...but when you're hitting .353, you really don't have to.
#3: Ken Griffey Jr, .223/.333/.403: Yes, a .736 OPS is the third best for the Mariners. The walks are still there, thus the .110-point difference between the batting average and the OBP, but Junior has shown his age this year. Personally I'm still hoping for a hot finish for The Kid in his final season, and knowing his history agaist the Twins he could kick that off tonight.
#1: Franklin Gutierrez, 22.2%: Having a career year, the 26-year old former Indian still doesn't produce for power, but thanks to a lot of line drives and a correlating BABIP he's been one of Seattle's better average and on-base men. In spite of this, Gutierrez has been batting ninth for offensively starved Mariners.
#2: Ron Johnson, 21.5%: Splitting catching duties with the struggling Kenji Johjima, Johnson's solid line drive rates aren't being shown their due justice. His BABIP is .277, or about 60 points lower than what you might expect. He's hitting just .196. Strike out prone and powerless, Johnson is far from being robbed as far as numbers are concerned, but for line drives specifically he has been unlucky.
#3: Russell Branyan, 20.5%: It doesn't matter if it's on the ground or in the air, Branyan's just been hitting the ball hard this year. Like Joe Mauer, Branyan's line drive percentages don't tell you how on the ball he's been.
#1: Felix Hernandez, 3.20: And is anyone surprised? Raise your hands. Nobody? Good. King Felix should have a couple of extra wins under his belt, but we're already aware of Seattle's offensive issues. He's having the best year of his career so far, and at just 23 there's little reason to think he won't just keep getting better.
#2: Erik Bedard, 3.47: We've talked earlier in the year how Bedard is Ace 1B to Hernandez' 1A. It's still true. He hasn't allowed more than three runs in any game, and after making just one start between May 10 and May 27 seems to be back on his game.
#3: Jarrod Washburn, 3.59: Washburn is having the best year he's had in a long, long time. Home runs and walks are down, strikeouts are up, and base runners are down. It's a perfect combination for success.
#1: Ichiro Suzuki, RF, 24.5: A lot of Ichiro's value has always come from his defense. He has great range and a good arm, and his rating here is representative of how good he is.
#2: Adrian Beltre, 3B, 24.3: It's good that Beltre can still provide some value for the Mariners, because hitting .244/.275/.355 has got to be like a knife in the heart to his Seattle fans. Anyone still wish we'd traded for him? Me either.
#3: Franklin Gutierrez, CF, 16.0: Gutierrez hits like a center fielder, and he's playing good defense while he's doing it. His range helps an arm that from defensive metrics appears to be largely average, and he's a big part of a good defensive outfield in Seattle.