2023 Season Preview: Seattle Mariners


2022 Record: 90-72 (.556 win%, 2nd in Division)

2023 Payroll: $129,814,047 (18th)

2023 Projected Lineup:

1. 2B Kolten Wong, .249 AVG/.323 OBP/.389 SLG, 2.8 fWAR

2. CF Julio Rodríguez, .271 AVG/.337 OBP/.484 SLG, 5.6 fWAR

3. 1B Ty France, .271 AVG/.341 OBP/.435 SLG, 3.1 fWAR

4. RF Teoscar Hernández, .251 AVG/.306 OBP/.457 SLG, 2.4 fWAR

5. 3B Eugenio Suárez, .209 AVG/.301 OBP/.407 SLG, 2.5 fWAR

6. C Cal Raleigh, .221 AVG/.285 OBP/.442 SLG, 3.1 fWAR

7. LF Jarred Kelenic, .221 AVG/.290 OBP/.408 SLG, 1.1 fWAR

8. DH AJ Pollock, .246 AVG/.297 OBP/.407 SLG, 0.7 fWAR

9. SS J.P. Crawford, .253 AVG/.335 OBP/.359 SLG, 3.1 fWAR

10. C/OF Cooper Hummel, .211 AVG/.312 OBP/.356 SLG, 0.4 fWAR

2023 Projected Starting Rotation:

1. Luis Castillo, 194 IP/3.16 ERA/1.15 WHIP, 3.7 fWAR

2. Logan Gilbert, 178 IP/3.74 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 2.3 fWAR

3. Robbie Ray, 190 IP/3.79 ERA/1.20 WHIP, 2.1 fWAR

4. George Kirby, 135 IP/3.57 ERA/1.15 WHIP, 2.3 fWAR

5. Marco Gonzales, 168 IP/4.50 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR

2023 Projected Top 4 Relievers:

1. Paul Sewald, 67 IP/3.65 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 0.6 fWAR

2. Andrés Muñoz, 65 IP/2.59 ERA/1.00 WHIP, 1.6 fWAR

3. Diego Castillo, 63 IP/3.51 ERA/1.21 WHIP, 0.3 fWAR

4. Matt Brash, 63 IP/3.39 ERA/1.28 WHIP, 0.4 fWAR

What Does Baseball Mean to Seattle?

The Seattle Mariners made the playoffs last season, ending the longest active playoff drought in the MLB, and the city could not be more electric about it. The Mariners, often dubbed “America’s Team” over the past two seasons, have absolutely electric energy. 

The team gets loud for big hits, and the winning-starved fanbase is clearly eager to see a change in success. This season is one of the high hopes for Mariner fans and an important one in continuing their popularity.

2022 Offseason Recap:

The 2022 Mariners offseason flew a bit under the radar. They made some big acquisitions via trade and lost key contributors from last season in the process as well. General Manager Jerry DiPoto has never been one to shy away from a blockbuster move and showcased that willingness this offseason. 

The Mariners’ acquisition of Teoscar Hernandez is perhaps the most important of them all. The former Blue Jays outfielder is expected to be a staple in the 2023 lineup, hitting for power and getting on base as well. 

Though partly a DH for the Blue Jays, there is a decent chance we see Hernandez in the outfield for parts of this season. Hernandez fills the void left by departure Jesse Winker and then some, supplementing a high average (per 2023 standards) with massive amounts of power. 

The second trade, and perhaps the more polarizing one, was the acquisition of Kolten Wong. While Wong is an excellent player, giving up two Major League assets, Jesse Winker and Abraham Toro, is a steep price. Both Winker and Toro struggled last season, and the expectation is that Wong will be able to produce more than the two of them at the top of their lineup. 

Wong is a long-time NL Central native, and the transition to the unfamiliar pitching will be an interesting one to watch, though the 32-year-old vet should be a prominent staple of the Mariners’ lineup. 

A smaller addition was A.J. Pollock. Pollock, another veteran hitter, was brought in to shore up some final spots in the lineup. Recently, Pollock has struggled vs. right handed pitching, so there’s opportunity for a platoon there with Jarred Kelenic.

A key departure from the Mariners this off-season was 2B/OF Adam Frazier. The Mariners likely hoped that Adam Frazier would be their stalwart at second base; however, Frazier was unproductive and signed with Baltimore in free agency this season. Replacing him with Wong is undeniably a plus. Even if Wong doesn’t hit, he will certainly stabilize the keystone with his gold glove defense. 

Another key departure from the offseason is Mitch Haniger. There’s a chance the Mariners don’t miss Haniger, with their high-upside outfield talent, however, that runs some risk. Haniger was a career Mariner and had he and the team agreed to a contract this offseason, could have been a Mariners all-timer. Alas, Haniger is now an afterthought in San Francisco, and it will be up to Teoscar Hernandez, A.J. Pollock, and Jarred Kelenic to fill the hole in his absence. 

The Mariners weren’t done there; they added some more hole-fillers. Tommy La Stella has been and should continue to be a Major League contributor, with both infield and outfield versatility. 

Another acquisition was Cooper Hummel. A 28-year-old outfielder with versatility at catcher as well. Hummel, acquired from Arizona, should provide the Mariners with some games at catcher behind Cal Raleigh, and the switch-hitter may find some time in the outfield as well at the Major League level. 

Lastly, there may not have been a bigger storyline than Harry Ford, the number one prospect in Seattle’s system, per MLB.com. Ford took the world by storm, hitting at the top of Great Britain’s lineup in the World Baseball Classic. Though he just played four games, Ford showed the Mariners fan base what they could be seeing in just a year or two. 

The Mariners’ off-season was certainly interesting, though it’s hard to tell if they got much better or worse. “Trader Jerry” was often trading, as per usual, but with many new faces in the clubhouse, the new team dynamic will be something to monitor. If the team gets off to a fast start, they could easily be a 100-game winning squad.

2023 Regular Season Preview:

The Mariners should be good. At this point, the rebuild has taken far too long to warrant any other result. Powered by All-Stars Ty France and Julio Rodriguez and a formidable starting rotation, this team has the potential to play into November. For the team to reach this ceiling, however, health is key. 

Health will be crucial to the Mariners’ success. With a middle-of-the-pack bullpen and a lack of starting pitching depth, the season could turn sideways quickly. If their lineup produces how it’s meant to, this team should be near the top of the league in runs per game. I expect this team to come out of the gate firing, and by the time August 1 rolls around, the team should be in many trade conversations centered around starting pitching, outfield help, or a strong reliever. 

Expect this team to contend from Game One to 162, and expect that as they do well, the city will rally behind them. The Mariners are a scary team to face, and they certainly have the potential for a playoff run, especially if they’re able to dethrone the Astros and grab one of the wild-card round byes, and they showcased their power last year in their 2-game sweep of the Blue Jays. In addition to the potential, they showed their volatility last season, turning around and getting swept by the Astros in 3 games in the ALDS.

Player to Watch #1 CF Julio Rodriguez

Julio Rodriguez is an absolute superstar. After making the All-Star team in his rookie season, the 5-tool 22-year-old centerfielder is ready to make more headlines. Julio Rodriguez is the storyline when it comes to this team. Though young, Rodriguez already has shown that he is more than capable of carrying a lineup on his shoulders. Holding down Center Field and the heart of a lineup is a tall task for anyone, but Rodriguez has shown that he should be capable enough to take on the tall task.

Player to Watch #2: OF Jarred Kelenic

I’ve refrained from this name throughout the article because of the lackluster production to date, but I do not think it can be overstated how critical Kelenic is to this team’s success in 2023. A former first-round pick and top 5 prospect, Kelenic has shown he has the tools to be an elite Major League player. On top of that, he has the stats. Unfortunately, those stats are in AAA. In the MLB, Kelenic’s career batting average is just .168. In the minors last season, Kelenic slashed .295/.365/.922 and is scorching hot in Spring Training, slashing an absurd .353/.389/1.095. If Kelenic can be just a shell of the player scouts (and Mariners fans) once thought he was, he could be an All-Star as soon as this year. The 23-year-old still has plenty of time to turn it around and cement his place as a major league starter but it’s running out quickly. 

Player to Watch #3: SP Logan Gilbert

In 2022, Gilbert broke out in a big way and will be relied upon for an even higher level of contribution in 2023. Gilbert pitched to a 3.2 ERA and had a sub 3.5 FIP, leading many to believe that the former top prospect is here to stay. However, as the least proven of the Mariners’ top three pitchers, Gilbert has the potential to elevate the Mariners’ pitching staff and provide this team with safety in starting pitching unfamiliar to them. Gilbert has the potential to rival the abilities of Ace Luis Castillo and solidify the Mariners’ rotation with a two-headed monster. 

Position Group to Watch: Strikeout Prone Hitters

Teoscar Hernandez, Eugenio Suarez, Julio Rodgriguez, Cal Raleigh, and Jarred Kelenic all have struck out over 1 time per game played in their careers, and the alarming rates for Hernandez and Suarez highlight this group. Projected to hit in the RBI-producing spots of the lineup. This team’s success could be driven by simply putting the ball in play, and scoring runs when RISP opportunities arise. 

In 2022, the Mariners were tied for third-worst batting average with RISP, and as a team hit a mere .230, alongside teams like the Marlins, Tigers, and Diamondbacks, which are not the greatest company for a team with deep playoff aspirations. If the team can deliver situational hits (if that’s lucky or not is up to you) they will be extremely successful, however, if they can’t, I foresee some struggles for America’s Team.

2023 Record Prediction: 92-70

I predict the Mariners to finish around 92-70. I think the young roster will lead to a two win improvement over last year’s record. Don’t be surprised if this team goes over, and the lack of depth could lead to this team falling well short of their expectations.

Categories: 2023 Season Preview, Articles, Season Analysis

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