Players to Watch: Mariners
- Felix Hernandez: This should be self-explanatory. You shouldn’t need me to convince you to watch one of the best pitchers in baseball.
- Dustin Ackley: Ackley has been disappointing so far in 2012 after a successful 90-game debut last season. So far he’s batting only .248 with a .671 OPS, two home runs and 10 RBI—not what the Mariners were expecting. The worst part is that no one can really explain it. His strikeout and walks rates are in line with last season and his BABIP is a somewhat respectable .295. He is hitting slightly more ground balls this season, thus explaining the power outage, but he doesn’t look like the same player as last season when he accumulated a 2.7 fWAR in 90 games. This season he stands at 0.2 fWAR through 36 games. He should turn it around, but the longer this slump lasts the more you have to worry.
- Jesus Montero: Montero was the big acquisition of the offseason, added to help solidify the core of the Mariner’s offense. So far, not so good. Montero is hitting just .262 with a .707 OPS to go along with five home runs and 17 RBI. Again, this is not what the Mariners expected. He’s a great talent with a bright future ahead, but for now he’s struggled. It might help if he were given a stable position and place in the batting order.
Players to Watch: Indians
- Shin-Soo Choo: Manny Acta finally moved Choo to the top of the order against the Twins and the results have been great. In Monday’s game he drove in the game winning run and yesterday he went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, a walk and two runs scored. Could this move finally break him out of his prolonged slump? It’s going to be fun to find out, provided Acta doesn’t have a massive change of heart. And why should he? It’s not like Choo has a career OBP of .383 or anything. Stay tuned.
- Ubaldo Jimenez: He’s supposed to be an ace. He’s going up against the ace of all aces. Today’s game is going to be a real test for Jimenez. If he can go pitch-for-pitch with Hernandez it will go a long way in restoring everyone’s faith in him. However, if he struggles, he’ll look even worse by comparison. Simply put, it’s time for Jimenez to step up.
Series Trivia: The Indians and Mariners have squared off almost 400 times since the Mariners’ inception during the 1970′s. Despite both teams’ peaks and valleys in terms of success on the field, the Indians have never had a losing decade against the Mariners. They are 10-9 versus Seattle so far in the 2010′s.