What little offense you do squeeze out of this team can probably be attributed to OF Ichiro Suzuki. He's led the MAJORS in hits seven out of his ten seasons since joining Seattle in 2001, while averaging 224 hits per season. He's also carrying a career .331 batting average and has hit .350 or better four times! RotoChamps.com reports his 2011 5x5 projections around .319/90/7/48/33 and ranks him as the 6th-best outfielder overall. Ichiro is one of those fantasy baseball players that you really know what you are getting when you draft (or keep) them and this season should be more of the same excellence.
Who knew that the major's worst offense would wind up being at the center of the AL Cy Young Award voting too? SP Felix Hernandez received the lowest Run Support Average of all qualifying pitchers in the majors for 2010 and it was reflected in the fact that he recorded 30 Quality Starts in 34 Games Started but produced just a 13-12 record. "King Felix" led the AL in Innings Pitched with 249.2 and the majors with a 2.27 ERA. At just 24 years old, the sky's the limit for a pitcher that deserves so much more support than the anemic Seattle Mariners offense can provide him.
2B Chone Figgins was just one of the many Mariners that had an awful offensive season, hitting a career-low .259 and scoring a career-low 62 runs. Positively, Figgins still managed to steal 42 bases and could come at a discount in auctions and new league drafts. There's talk that he'll be moved back to third base for the 2011 season, so he should gain 3B eligibility early enough in the season to give owners some nice roster flexibility with a guy that could easily produce a .280/90/2/45/40 line.
Best of the rest but not keepers:
- We all want 1B Justin Smoak to be a viable fantasy option at first base but he's yet to prove worthy of the hype. Projections on RotoChamp.com have him hitting as low as .233 with just 12 home runs and as high as .261 with 20 home runs. Get back to me in 2012.
- OF Franklin Gutierrez has 15 HR/20 SB potential but with a .260 batting average. He has value in larger, mixed-format leagues but not as a keeper.
- C Miguel Olivo was signed to be the regular catcher for his 20 HR potential. Unfortunately, he also brings a .246 career batting average.
- On the plus side, 1B/DH Jack Cust averages 27 HR per 162 games played with a career OBP of .378. Negatively, his career batting average is .245 and strikes out 197 times per 162 games played. Has much more value in leagues that use OBP instead of BA but will never be a keeper.
- 2B Dustin Ackley looks to be the future at second base and could see significant time in the majors this season but has little fantasy value at this point for 2011. Keep a close eye on him this Spring.
There's not a lot to get excited about when looking over the current Seattle Mariners roster once you get past the elites. Their farm system is currently ranked 16th out of 30, so even the near future seems dim. I'd love to hear from someone that covers the Mariners for a living or a die-hard fan on what to look for in 2011 and beyond.
I'm nearing the end of my keeper previews of all teams, so if you'd like to see what I've done so far, please check out the article tag "Finding Keepers" at http://www.cosfba.com/search/label/Finding%20Keepers.