Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners

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A brief swing to Philadelphia showed us both faces of the Indians offense. The Tribe was held to just two runs on Tuesday then lit up Cole Hamels like that Christmas Tree your elderly neighbor left up all year. It was 10 runs they scored that game, and it was awesome. While the low-scoring affairs are a bit of a drag, I’ll take these outbursts of stupendous smashingness.

So it’s back to Cleveland to face the Indians greatest foes, the Seattle Mariners. While you might think a division rival or perhaps some powerhouse would properly fit in as the Indians’ greatest foe, remember that Ichiro Suzuki said he’d rather punch himself in the face then go to Cleveland. That’s just rude, and THEN he went back on his word and came to Cleveland. Rude and a flip-flopper? Sounds like a future Yankee.

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This new Mariners team though, they’re something else. Well, not really, they’re still pretty mediocre with one amazing thing going for them, and he only shows up once every five days. The thing about the Mariners, it seems like they’re prisoners of their ballpark. I look no further than Adrian Beltre. He signed with them from the Dodgers back in 2005 after posting a .334/.388/.617 line with 48 homers, then proceeded to sit at .266/.317/.442 in his five years in Seattle. He played stupendous defense because that’s what Beltre does, but he was an offensive disappointment. We all know where that went when he left Seattle. First in Boston and now in Texas he’s a monster, averaging 36 homers per 162 games in that time span with a .904 OPS. He’s not the only case, and there’s a reason Felix Hernandez stuck around there, not just money and love.

So it’s no surprise their offense is anything but spectacular. Honestly, I don’t think even Ken Griffey Jr. would have been as good as he was if they’d played in Safeco, but that’s just my miserable opinion. The M’s are 12th in the AL in OBP, 14th in slugging, though surprisingly ninth in homers. You’d think with that ocean of grass they’d have more doubles out there, but with 56 as a team they’re only 14th.

What offense they do have is led by Michael Saunders, finally having a breakout season at 26 with an .825 OPS. He’s a good speed/power combo, probably a 20/20 guy if things break right but he’s not a middle of the lineup guy. The players that are supposed to do that, namely first baseman Justin Smoak (.311 slugging percentage, .076 ISO) and Kendrys Morales (.418 SLG, .157 ISO) are not getting it done at the offense-first positions, and Smoak in particular has been abysmal, costing the Mariners half a win last year according to Fangraphs. At least with a .355 on-base rate, he’s doing that alright.

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One thing I like about this Seattle team is the reemergence of Jason Bay as something resembling a major leaguer. We’ll see how long he stays healthy, but after the misery that was his stretch with the Mets, Bay is hitting again with a respectable 121 OPS+ and four homers. He’ll never reach that perfectly timed 36 homer plateau he hit in Boston, but at least he’s better than average. New York can tear a man up.

There’s really not that much remarkable about the Mariners, at least outside of the pitching staff. For the most part, especially up the middle, they can’t hit all that well though they’re a fine defensive team. Dustin Ackley and Robert Andino are defensively fantastic, but Ackley has a .554 OPS and Andino .455. It’s a little ugly.

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