M's Starting Lineup
Logically, Mr. Spock, the conclusion is inescapable


Baker was axed, via Twitter, whether the Condor could suffer in competition because of being away at the WBC.  His terse reply:  "Nope.  He's the starter in LF or RF"

It registers in Dr. D's molasses-slow mind that this gives us a starting lineup, including batting order, though Smoak's slot especially is in flux.  

We'll skip the trite and cliche'd caveats about things being set in stone.  We'll also skip the hackneyed caveats about spring training logic.  EVERYbody knows what the caveats are.

If I were an Angel fan, and playing roto, here's where I'd be pegging these guys on my draft board:


Player Pos   OPS+ Note
1 Gutierrez CF R 105 15-20 HR, 15-20 SB ... big health risk 
2 Ackley 2B L 90-100 On the "Post-hype" yellow sticky note
3 Morales DH L 120 .300, 25 HR.  Contract year
4 Morse LF R 125 Shandler proj'd .500 SLG.  Fences coming in
5 Seager 3B L 110 He is what he is - solid 3B option
6 Montero C R 100 Pencil in "average," pocket the profit
7 Saunders RF L 110 .250 with 20-20 offense; repeats 2012
8 Smoak 1B S 80-120 "26 with Experience" player, could explode
9 Ryan SS R 60+ Keep him far, far away from my roto roster

Having put our roto caps on, let's take those caps off and put on the real-life basebawl caps.

The 30,000-foot view?  Wow.  That's a good offense.  No Hamiltons or Trouts, but few lineups contain eight hitters who are causing damage.  The above offense would be one of the five best in the league.

Disappointments in sports do occur, and they occur in bunches.  That is what it's going to take, for the 2013 offense not to be a good one.

Whoops!  That was a hackneyed caveat, wasn't it.


Dr D




Given Guti's seeming success at leadoff and the previous attempts to match Ackley and Ryan at 1&2, and the success Seager had last year, I'll bet the OD lineup
will be as below.
With this lineup, if Guti doesn't get on, they have to pitch Seager as a power threat. If he does, they have to watch for the double into RF OR the slapped single - and then (hoping the best for Smoak) facing 5 straight good hitters with power.
Gutierrez CF R
Seager 3B L
Morales DH S (Bay against tough LH)
Morse LF R
Smoak 1B S (if he hits at all, he hits best at 5th) (if he face-plants, then Ibanez here as DH, and Morales plays 1B)
Montero C R
Saunders RF L
Ackley 2B L
Ryan SS R
Speed at the top, speed at the bottom, and thunder in between. Since Saunders hits lefties well, the doubling of him and Ackley won't be a problem. I don't think it will be a popular lineup to pitch against. Though hitting Montero in front of Saunders might cut into Saunders' speed, Saunders and Ackley are the most heads-up baserunners, so will be able to make the smart adjustments to Montero's ability to advance.

Brent's picture

The only (minor) quibble I have is that I'd like to find a lineup spot where The Condor isn't stuck between two basepath cloggers that negate his speed and baserunning ability. That's why most of my theoretical lineups have him at number two, with Ackley at eight. Yes, I'm aware Ackley can run well, but he's coming off the ankle surgery. If you have to have Ackley at the two-spot, then have Smoak at seven and Saunders at eight so you have four guys in a row with speed once the lineup turns over.
1- Guti
2- Condor
3- Morse
4- Morales/Bay (IF Bay makes team. If Wells, then that changes several places)
5- Seager (His best numbers last year were from the 5 slot)
6- Montero
7- Smoak
8- Ackley
9- Ryan

IcebreakerX's picture

Considering the fact that Saunders is destroying the ball for Canada, why would it ever affect his status as a starter?


Keeping him at 5 is probably a remnant from last  year when he was the only guy who could drive in a run.
At #2, not only would you increase his AB's, but he's a pull hitter.  More 1B-to-3B.  He'd be a good 2.


Shoppach as a lifetime 96 OPS+ hitter ... being spotted against favorable pitching ... should be one of the best #2 C bats in the league.  If not the best ... who am I forgetting?
Obviously you've got Raul and probably Wells in the OF.  Yeah, that's almost an Earl-type bench.


Saunders gleamed in his last 29 games last season. He batted .280/.364/.601 with a meager .296 BABiP. Now, I doubt his ability to hit for THAT much power, but knock a hundred points off the Slugging and that still makes him an awesome 3 Hitter.


He has to have someone bat behind him. If it's Smoak or Morales, who are just about as slow, you haven't really solved anything. My experience is that you have to put one of the following in the spot, or better, two spots, behind an exceptionally slow guy:
1) your best baserunner, so the follow runner doesn't get hung up if the lead guy doesn't advance two bases when expected, OR;
2) a guy that hits the ball so hard it doesn't matter if the lead guy is a bit slow - he'll still advance easily.
It could be argued that Smoak or Morales will hit the ball hard enough for 2), but Saunders definitely does AND qualifies by #1. If Montero has a .400 OBP, Saunders will still hit 60% of the time without Montero on base to worry about, but if Montero is on base, Saunders is heady enough and quick enough avoid getting hung up. I don't have the tools to run the simulation, but intuitively, hitters who hit the ball hard should allow baserunners to advance more often successfully, and follow runners who are aware of situations make less outs on running mistakes.

Brent's picture

and follow it through to your lineup projection that if the M's go three-and-out the first two innings then Saunders is "leading off" the third. I also understand jemanji's assertion that we don't yet know if Condor is a run scorer or one who drives in others. I'd like to think he can be both. His physical tools just inspire such hope that he can harness it all. Sometimes the tall guys need time to find a way into getting all those long limbs working together instead of at cross-purposes.


Ryan and Raul.....whenever possible

ghost's picture

Who on the team as currently constructed has a good chance to dra 4 P/PA and get on base at a .350 clip. Hint: it ain't Seager.
The best line-up with the most likely starters would be:
vs. RHP:
2B) Ackley (L)
LF) Saunders (L)
DH) Morales (S)
RF) Morse (R)
1B) Smoak (S)
C) Montero (R)
3B) Seager (L)
CF) Gutierrez (R)
SS) Ryan (R)
vs. LHP:
CF) Gutierrez (R)
2B) Ackley (L)
DH) Morales (S)
RF) Morse (R)
C) Montero (R)
1B) Smoak (R)
LF) Wells/Bay (R)
3B) Seager (L)
SS) Ryan (R)
My 0.02


With most of his career in the 3.7s, and he's a decent #2 - because he hits a ton of doubles and for a high average. That's Seager's game, in theory (and his P/PA was 3.63 last year). He's a .300/.335/.500 hitter away from the Safe for his year-and-a-half-long career so far, and has 80 points of patience at home where he's struggled to hit for average or power.
I don't see why Seager wouldn't get to 60 or 70 points of patience along with being a .280+ hitter, which makes him a fine #2. Seager's line is crashed a bit from failing against lefties - we'll see how he does going forward, but I certainly expect him to improve with more time logged.
Can't hit that bad at home all the time.
Of course, Ackley and Smoak can't hit as badly as they have for much longer either, right?

ghost's picture

Bear in mind, however, that Seager hit like .275 in the first half and .220 in the second half or something to that effect. He struggled more and more as time went on...which is why I was concerned with his ability to hit for a high enough average to stick up there in the 2 hole.

ghost's picture

Over the years, I've noticed that prospects (and in general young players) and fringe veterans tend to far outhit regular veterans and they also tend to be ahead of the pitchers in training in the first couple of weeks of spring...and in the last couple of weeks of spring, the pitchers get ahead of the hitters (as the quality of competition steadily improves).
So every year, you get teams like the Royals, Mariners and Padres filled with and relying on young, promising hitters who shoot out of the gate and win a bunch of spring games early. I am wondering how often that has turned into longer term success?
And as much as I hate to say it...I'm kind of doubting that the hitting is going to be as good as it looks right now, now that I'm going through recent spring training stats and realizing that the Mariners profile as the type of team that would have a hype-filled spring training full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.


I am sure we will all the line-ups above, and at least 40 more.
Unfortunately, there are guys who will have to be rested on a consistant basis, and others whose streakiness will demand that they are sat for a while.
I am sure Guti, Morales, Ibanez, and Montero will have to sit at least once a week,,, if not twice, because they can just not physically handle playing every day.
Then you'll have Ryan, Morse, Smoak, Ibanez, and Guti probably have to go onto the 15 day DL just because....
Lastly, Ryan, Bay (if he makes it), Morse, Wells (if he makes it), Saunders, Smoak and Montero have shown that they are streak hitters... so when they are cold, they will have to sit.
This will be an interesting team to try to manage for Wedge... and I am not sure he has it in him unfortunately.


B-ref shows .243 in the 1st half and .276 second half, which matches my memory that he got stronger with experience - including .298 in September. But it was his first full season and he did wilt a bit in summer - June.204 and July.247 with mid .600 OPS thru August, but then he OPSed .832 in September. So, you're right that July and August were his worst months; but then September matched May as his best. So it looks like we both have selective memories ;-) Still, I think he'll hit better if he gets more fastballs and has men on in front of him - which is the good thing about Guti's re-emergence and about Morse and Morales in the lineup - Seager and Saunders aren't the only threats this year.


Seager had some problems with bendy stuff from LH pitchers. How much bendy stuff will he get with Guti on base? Not a lot unless Yadier Molina is catching.
With guys on base, IIRC, Seager was better, to the tune of .280/.386/.449 per B-ref. I think it's 'cause he got fastballs to hit. And opening up the right side gap helps, too. With Morse/Morales hitting behind him, they're not going to want to walk him. His hitting style seems to me to be perfect for #2.
1) Good bat control; relatively low K rate (~17%; Saunders is at 24%)
2) Good speed: very few GIDP
3) Ability to turn on FB and get XBH
4) Has some issues with off-speed stuff, but if it's hung, he can park it in the seats. This increases the stress on the pitcher, which makes it more likely he hangs one.
5) With Morse/Morales behind him, he will get balls to hit
You can say the same for Saunders, and hopefully soon for Ackley. But getting Seager more ABs won't hurt, and letting Saunders hit in a spot where he can let it rip will only help groove his swing, and his Ks won't be as much of an issue. Also, Saunders hits LH better than RH - why would you think of platooning him? Put him at #6 or 7 and let him have at it. If he hits better than Smoak/Morse/Morales/Montero, then move him up when he's "in the groove, Jackson" (Road to Rio, Paramount, 1947) (Sorry, a Remington Steele moment there)
The comparison of Seager to Jeter is apt - he won't lead the team in HR or RBIs again (hopefully), but has proven he can hit and make things happen. Exactly what the Ms need at the top of the lineup.

ghost's picture

So what I remembered was Seager's BA after May being like .280 and then it slowly going down...down....DOOOOWWWWN...through mid August or so until it was .235 and they were starting to question whether he was going to stick around...and then I remember him having a couple of better weeks while I was still paying attention that got him back to near .245 or .250. I see that after I quit watching the games regularly, he hit better. Which is somewhat encouraging.


for your line of work must be like tax season for accountants or predeployment workups in my old line - not much chance to smell the roses.

ghost's picture

Actually my time was taken up with launching my final year of grad school and proposing to my fiance and the like...(and the Mariners were out of the race and kind of hard to watch).
At least until late October, at which point Sandy and then a surprise winter storm grabbed my attention. :)


Saunders was better against LHP than RHP last year. I don't see any reason to not have him in there everyday. Heck, there really is no reason to use Wells/ Bay in a straight platoon with one particular player. Saunders was better against LHP. Morales was technically better against RHP last year, but still a legit threat against LHP. Smoak has always been "better" from the right side. Heck, the only LH/ SH that could be said to have a platoon was Seager and that just won't work at all.
If you want to get crazy with the musical chairs, I suppose you could use the RH OF bat to spot rest the 3 LHs/ SH he can work in with, but I can count the number of managers like that on one hand -- and 3 of the guys I'm thinking of are retired...

M-Pops's picture

Z doesn't seem to trust sudden velo gains, does he?
If he seems too good to be true, buy him a seat next to Montero on the 787 to Miami, next winter :-P
I really enjoy watching Erasmo pitch and love the weapons he brings to the fight. That said, my guess is that he is the next pitcher Z sends out.
While the Pineda trade may have some GM's spooked, they can still dream on nabbing the next Morrow or Fister.
Oh, and Erasmo is one of the last players from the Engel/Bavasi era.

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