By the Numbers: Good things could be happening in Seattle

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

Published:

 

They look like a different team — maybe because they are a different team.

When the Mariners tallied 12 runs Tuesday in a victory over the Cleveland Indians, it marked the first time in 103 games they had scored in double-digits. They followed that with nine runs Wednesday in another victory.

Much of the credit for this sudden burst of offense goes to players who are new to the lineup. Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Kyle Seager, Trayvon Robinson … each of them has shown some promise of actually being a prospect.

But are they? Here is a look at some of the Mariners’ youngsters (statistics entering Friday’s game) and what we can expect from them in the future:

Dustin Ackley (.288 batting average, .366 on-base percentage, .460 slugging percentage), 23 years old, second baseman.

As the No. 2 pick in the 2009 amateur draft, Ackley’s arrival was much anticipated. He has slumped lately, but remains among the best of this year’s rookies.

The good news: He’s for real. Going into this season, Ackley was rated by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in all of baseball, and his minor-league statistics suggest that his major-league performance is not a fluke.

One of the best indicators: A 39-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the majors, which is excellent for a rookie. Ackley also has handled second base well enough defensively to be a fixture at the position for years to come.

Mike Carp (.300/.357/.488), 25, 1B/OF.

Carp has put up excellent numbers, but the jury is still out on his future prospects.

He took a big leap at Tacoma this year, with his OPS in Triple-A going from .844 last year to 1.060. His strikeout/walk ratio in the minors improved somewhat but still wasn’t great, and it has been awful in the majors.

He has some power, but can’t be regarded as a top-flight prospect.

Kyle Seager (.313/.375/.450), 23, 3B.

Seager boosted his batting average 89 points by going 10 of 13 over a three-game stretch this week. He started the season in Double-A, hit .312, then got called up to Triple-A, where he batted .387 in 24 games.

In 269 minor-league games over three seasons, he has a .328 batting average and .401 on-base percentage. He’ll be a good major-league hitter but doesn’t have much power yet.

Trayvon Robinson (.304/.350/.500), 23, LF.

Acquired from the Dodgers in the trade that sent Erik Bedard to Boston, Robinson made a highlight-reel catch in his first major-league game.

He spent most of the year with the Dodgers’ Triple-A club, where he belted 26 homers in 100 games while batting .293. Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked him as the 10th-best prospect in the Dodgers’ organization.

But Robinson’s strikeout numbers have been huge in the minor leagues, and there is reason to doubt whether he can handle major-league pitching over the long haul.

Justin Smoak (.220/.317/.387), 24, 1B.

Smoak was the most notable acquisition when the Mariners dealt Cliff Lee to Texas during the 2010 season, and he has been Seattle’s first baseman since then. But he has been a major disappointment.

Since coming to Seattle, Smoak has batted .225 with 17 homers, 41 runs, and 58 RBI in essentially one full season of playing time.

His strikeout-to-walk ratio is decent, but he has done nothing to indicate that he’s a long-term solution at first base.

Michael Pineda (9-7, 3.73 ERA, 148 strikeouts in 147 innings), 22, P.

Pineda made the All-Star team this year as an injury replacement and has Mariner fans dreaming of big things from him. On the other hand, Seattle once had a pitcher named Dave Fleming who went 17-10 as a rookie.

Is Pineda for real?

The best indicator of future success for a young pitcher is his strikeout rate. For example, Fleming struck out 4.4 batters per nine innings during his 17-win season, well below the league average at the time. It was no surprise he quickly flamed out.

Pineda, on the other hand, has a strikeout rate superior to that of Felix Hernandez this year. He’s also allowing fewer hits and walking barely more batters than Hernandez.

Pineda is, without question, one of the best young pitchers in the major leagues. If some of those hitters who have been so productive lately can continue to develop, Mariner fans will have plenty to cheer about in the next few years.

Question or comment for By the Numbers? You can reach Greg Jayne, Sports editor of The Columbian, at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at greg.jayne@columbian.com. To “Like” him on Facebook, search for “Greg Jayne - The Columbian”

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With high school football beginning next week, this is the final By the Numbers column of the season. You can find more baseball analysis on Greg Jayne’s blog at columbian.com/weblogs/GregJayne