10 Ways the 2018 M's Look Better - Standin' Still
Do the M's 'need' Ohtani-san or Darvish?


Moe Dog sez,


Sorry guys, I can not buy the theory that our only way to the promised land is through Ohtani.

Say we sign Darvish, but don’t get Ohtani.  Then we get a Bradley Jr. or Grichuk.

Darvish, Paxton, Leake, Ramirez, Gonzo, Miranda, Moore isn’t enough rotation to grab a wild card?  Haven’t even included Felix.

Get a Bradley Jr. and you’ve addressed weaknesses at 1B and CF.  

Goodness knows I lust for Ohtani, but we can skin the WC cat in other ways.


Right.  And to reinforce the point.  There's no *guarantee,* exactly, that Ohtani is a Cy contender in 2018.  Real good possibility that Darvish outpitches him next year, certainly that Darvish and a good DH outperform him in a two-way context.

There's obviously a lot of disappointment in our 78-84 record, considering the widespread sentiment "We need Darvish and Ohtani to have any chance," etc.  I tend to agree with Dipoto, that we underperformed.  Could see a lot of scenarios in which this team *unchanged* makes a run at the playoffs, as it did in 2016.


BEST BETS 2018, Dept.

We all know that you can have dropoffs just like you can have pleasant surprises.  Nelson Cruz had 3.8 WAR last year; it's easy to imagine 1.5 next year.  (Not that this is a given, either; he's had between 3.7 and 4.8 WAR four years in a row, and guess what he hit from Aug. 1 to the end of the season?  .314/.402/.644!)

But if we had an office pool going, and Dr. D was going to plump for the spots in which the (current) 2017 Mariners had the best chances to gain 1, 2 WAR, they might go something like this:


1.  Guillermo Heredia, 0.0 WAR.  Here's the easiest 2 WAR on offense.  Now, it's true that Jarrod Dyson got 2.1 WAR for us last year.  But the M's are going to put in a new RF/LF as the M's jobshare their young three outfielders.  That new acquisition is likely to be paid for 3 WAR -- while the current 3 OF's do at least as well as their combined 4.1 WAR from last year.


2.  SP2.  The M's second-best WAR figure in 2017 (rotation-wise) was from Mike Leake at 1.3.


3.  SP3.  The M's third-best WAR figure was Erasmo at 0.5.


4.  SP4.  The M's fourth-best figure was Andrew Albers, at 0.5.


5.  Mitch Haniger, 2.5 WAR.  Mitch played 96 games.  I see him as 3+ WAR tossing the ball in training camp, mostly because with his speed and defense he doesn't even need to hit much to give you 3 WAR.  But if he plays a whole season and slugs .491 he's going to get more like 6 WAR.


6.  SP5.  The M's fifth-best rotation figure last year was Felix Hernandez, at 0.4.  If King Felix throws 4.0 WAR on the board next year, you are going to see exactly nobody remark about the oddity of it - not after the season's over.  But you understand we're not really slotting Felix in as "SP5"; whoever gets the 2nd-best WAR next year is SP2.


7.  Jean Segura, 2.9 WAR.  Segura missed almost 40 games last year, as his WAR dropped from 5.0 to 2.9.


8.  James Paxton, 4.6 WAR.  And you can cheerfully list this #1 if you want.  Dr. D knows all about "regression to the mean" and how nonsensical it seems to set a pitcher's WAR over/under at 4.6.  But as we all know, (1) Paxton threw only 136 innings -- many of them out of sync, because freshly off the DL -- and (2) when Paxton executes his pitches, you get a long string of shutouts.

What is "realistic" from a starter like Paxton if he stays healthy?  Oh, 6.0 to 8.0.  Like Kershaw, Sale, and Scherzer get every year they go 200 innings.


9.  Robinson Cano, 3.3 WAR.  Robby dropped to 3.3 from guess what in 2016?  From 5.9 WAR.  Big thing was, his SLG went from .533 to .453 as his batting average dropped 20 points also.  Cano isn't the type of HOF'er who is lucky to get 3 WAR.


10.  Mike Zunino, 3.3 WAR.  It's also "regression to the mean" weird to slate a catcher above 3 WAR.  But this guy did 3 WAR in half a season.  There's a chance, a real nice chance, that Mike Zunino is a major star going forward.

Edit to add, the guy hit .250/.330/.500 with a 123 OPS+ on the season, including the April flailing about that got him demoted.  Was curious.  From his callup in late May to the end of the year he hit .270/.350/.570.  That is a long, LONG time to slug nearly six hundred.

In the second half, which is to say -AFTER- teams "booked" his red-hot June, Mikey countered with a .281/.376/.568 performance, one that Nelson Cruz would be thrilled to post.  The best news: a completely reasonable 24:73 EYE.


Dr. D just thought it would be fun to get specific about the places the 2018 M's could make advances, even without FA adds.  The 2017 M's really were snakebitten in their rotation.  There is nothing unusual at all in baseball for any given club to get LUCKY with its rotation -- in fact, every year you look up at the ASB and SOME couple of teams have four starters going gangbusters.  In fact every year there is some couple of teams for whom "everything comes together" and, after the fact, nobody calls it luck.  That's often what it is, though.

... for the record, this is not a recommendation against Yu Darvish ;- ) 



It would be kinda cool to see Denizens' opinions as to likeliest and least-likely from the above list (or from their own list).  Do keep in mind, however:  the 2016 M's won +9 more games than last year's did.  And it wasn't caus'a Leonys or Yu.





with the idea of latent advances just waiting to walk out of the trainer's room. Paxton is the most obvious...but Heredia and Haniger and Segura can't be understated.

No need to belabor the huge hole represented by your #s 2-4 above.  We need help.

But most of all, I've long since abandoned the idea that I (or anyone else?) can predict the 'coming together' you mention.  Luck or good fortune or whatever you want to call it happens (or in our case, NEVER happens!)

Seems like a year ago the Cubs were baseball's new dynasty.  Then they won a dozen fewer games.  At midseason, it was the Dodgers.  Then they lost 11 in a row.  

There's nothing fluky about the Astros--they deserved their title.

But start backfilling that SP hole, and I'll be good to go.  



Can we agree 2018 should see some improvement here versus 2017?  Just guessing he comes back next year on fire.  Considering K-Swag's work ethic,  this offseason seems certain to be dedicated to a "return to normalcy" vis-a-vis last season's 2.5 WAR. I for one am  counting on it.  Pretty much in agreement with your list but would add Kyle.


He's not a physical beast, relative to most MLB freaks, so the far upside is tempered for me, but here's bettin' on a slightly upward glide path for the next several years.



Seager’s ‘17 was essentially pretty much the same as his ’15 (which was spot on his career averages) minus 8 or 9 singles.  That’s it.  Basically the difference is background noise.  Well noise and a .262 BABIP, well below his career .285.  If you include the metric that Doc mentioned a while back about the large # of loud/deep fly outs he had, then it is really hard to call ‘17 a slump season.

Taro's picture

You can go for WC if everything pans out, but its not a WS contender.

Ohtani is basically a free ultra-premium 23 year old player. Its like get out of jail free card. He costs nothing to acquire and hes not even in his prime yet.


Standing around is so Mariners. 

The better teams go out for the kill. 

We said the same thing last spring, aw, shucks wild card when it all sticks. 

Ha, not even close. 

The M’s do have upside, but betting things going fine doomed the M’s in 2003 and 2004 when Edgar started OPSing humanly. 

I do like the fact that there’s more padding around than 2004, but if Nelson Cruz goes from .280 with 40 HRs to hitting .210 and warning track and getting unceremoniously Olerud’ed...


Doc's got a good point about the team having upside in the current roster over what they got last year, but for *perhaps* the first time in a couple decades this team is poised to experience truly catastrophic (wholly predictable/expected) declines from core contributors like Cruz (who they'll have EXTREME difficulty replacing at anything approaching his current cost), Cano (whose offensive profile, while great, is not Historically Amazing like, say, Edgar's or Joey Votto's--when he declines, it could happen hard and fast), and Felix (who has already declined, but who we're all hoping can rebound for a few years here near the end of his career to become a quality MOR pitcher).

This team legitimately could pumpkin any time.  It could also rebound to be better than it was in 2017.  Neither is out of the question, but in my mind neither is drastically more or less likely than the other at this point.  If Cruz turns into Sexson/Olerud during their final tour, the offense has a gaping hole in it.  If Cano can't morph into a more pure power hitter, like he was in 2016, as he ages then it's going to be tough for him to age gracefully enough not to become an albatross.  If Felix really is done as an impact player...you get the picture.  I'm not trying to paint a dire portrait of the M's chances, but the only way this team takes its fate under control for the foreseeable future is by being even more aggressive this year than it was last year in acquiring new core talent.


Years of age projected on opening day






















Over 34



And 2004, for reference?

Under 29













Ben Davis








Over 34













In 2004, pretty much none of the guys under 29 were expected to carry much water.  The ability to produce was largely on the over 34 list and those not listed on either group.

For 2018 I listed the starting C, 1b, SS, LF, CF, RF, closer and various others as being under 29 for opening day.  Some of those might ultimately be pushed to lesser roles by additions or be traded for that matter.  This is not an aging roster, JeDi has been overseeing that already.  It's not even remotely heading in that direction. 


But he and Felix are the Only important contributors with age Q's for the next few years.  And we'd mentioned that Cruz just now slugged .640 something from Aug 1 through the end of the year.  In fantasy baseball he's a pretty high draft in 2018, no?

Like Mo' Dawg says, this is getting ridiculous.  Boomstick could be the most extreme example ever of ... whatever he is.


The hypewagon on Jose Lopez, Jeremy Reed, Rafael Soriano, Miguel Olivo, Gil Meche, Matt Thornton, JJ Putz, George Sherrill, Clint Nageotte and Travis Blackley was pretty high...

Almost as high as anyone our current roster not named Haniger, Segura, Zunino or Diaz... And I would dare say that some of those are pretty close.

The Mariners have ZERO replacement star destroyers going forward.
You would have to have Mitch Haniger essentially turn in an MVP season.

And while I view him highly like Matt does, careers can do funny things.

Like when young players panic when Nelson Cruz stops Nelson Cruzing.


But after Paxton -- who himself only got in 136 innings -- those WAR figures in the rotation are 1.3, 0.5, 0.5, 0.4.  We all realize that 1.5 to 2.0 is minimal expectation from any starting position.

Yu Darvish had 3.5 wins last year.  It's not like he's 90% of the equation, is it?

Even supposing we made Darvish PLUS Ohtani a mandate (imagine how our assumption would sound to 29 other teams) you are talking about adding 8-10 wins to a 78-win team.  One that lost -9 wins over the previous year just by fluctuation in performance.

Stars & Scrubs guys like me want the free agents, but ya gotta get 25 guys goin'.  :- )


I see Haniger having zero trouble hitting like Nelson Cruz minus ten homers going forward.

He's a superstar, and I'm not worried about projecting that.

Note carefully that our second and third best rotation started were guys were acquired in August. That's a near guarantee of WAR gains all by itself.


Pretty much covered the biggest points already.  Those with positive production but short of full years only need do near the same and stay healthy and with the team to improve production in their respective spots.  Is health more or less likely than nobody being traded? 

Other than those numerous players, Seager, Cano, Heredia, Haniger, Segura and Felix (sure, 4 of those missed time) are all fully capable of outproducing their 2017 rate stat wise.  I'd like to think, at least.

I'm not of the extreme "Yu-Stan-tani or bust" camp, but even with those positive performances we're possibly 4 arms short right now.  2 in the rotation and 2 in the pen. 

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