Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Mariners

2022, the year that the Seattle Mariners not only made the playoffs, but won a playoff series against the Blue Jays. If it wasn't for the Astros being party-poopers, they could have gone as far as the Phillies went.

This was still an excellent Mariners team, with great performances from Julio Rodriguez, Ty France, Cal Raleigh, Robbie Ray and, eventually, Carlos Santana, and enough depth and variety to keep opponents at bay all year. Even though the Angels and Rangers are trying for 2023, the Mariners are still a favorite to stay competitive and keep this team a fixture of playoff races. I'd honestly love it if they were, they're a lot of fun. 

Jesse Winker was going to be the big piece of the Reds-Ms trade that robbed the team of Jake Fraley and Justin Dunn. Unfortunately, Winker struggled in his first year since his ASG season, and hit .219 with 100 hits, 53 RBIs and 14 homers. He missed a bit of time to injuries, and him and Haniger's injuries paved the way for other outfield options that, honestly, did better.
2023 Prediction: Not only is Winker coming off a disappointing season, but he'll be replacing Hunter Renfroe in the outfield in Milwaukee. I think he does well for himself, but I've become convinced that 2021 was his peak.

Although he began the year in the rotation, the rise of Luis Castillo pushed Chris Flexen to the bullpen over time. Flexen still had a pretty nice season, though, with an 8-9 record, a 3.73 ERA. I think what led to his demotion was that Flexen really isn't a strikeout guy, and he's on a rotation with Robbie Ray, Luis Castillo and Logan Gilbert, all of whom strike a lot of people out. Overall though, still a decent part of this team, and showed some versatility.
2023 Prediction: Flexen will likely be fighting for the last rotation spot with George Kirby, and I don't see Kirby losing. I think Flexen will be a really nice long reliever and sharp piece for this team going forward. 

Dylan Moore thought he was gonna be losing playing time once Adam Frazier was signed, but then Frazier failed to live up to expectations. In 104 games, Moore hit .224, mostly as a defensive substitution, but still led the team in steals with 21. He only had 24 RBIs, and maybe was an improvement over Frazier because Mariners fans already liked him.
2023 Prediction: Will fight for a similar role under both Frazier AND Kolten Wong.

In the absence of Haniger, Sam Haggerty got a lot of outfield starts, which was a good thing, as Haggerty came into his own this year. In 83 games he hit .256, had 45 hits and 13 steals. He was also an incredible defensive outfielder, with an 11 variable in the defensive WAR category. 
2023 Prediction: Teoscar and Julio have two of the outfield spots down pat. Jarred Kelenic and Haggerty are gonna quarrel for the other spot. I think Haggerty has it, and he'll have another great season as a defender. Ultimately, though, I think the goal is for him to become the fourth OF guy when Kelenic eventually comes to prominence. Whether that's next year or not is entirely up to the former Mets farmhand.

Though a menagerie of relievers gave the ninth inning a chance in 2022, the guy who ended the year with the most saves was everybody's favorite reliever, Paul Sewald. Sewald had another great 2022, with a 2.67 ERA, 72 Ks, and, yes, 20 saves, which is pretty nice. Sewald's in his 30s, and he's finally gotten some fan love, which is pretty great.
2023 Prediction: I think they're gonna stick with Sewald in the ninth, but I think he's gonna fill the same role he has, with versatility and appearances that don't have to end in a save.

Would you believe that with all the business the Mariners did with the Reds in 2022, the one former Reds prospect that no one was expecting to break out a bit was Taylor Trammell, who came over thanks to both the 2019 Trevor Bauer deal and the 2020 Austin Nola deal. Trammell has been a decent outfielder, though not quite what the prospectors said he'd be. He had a much better year in the outfield, but was spread too thin at the plate, with 10 RBIs and 4 homers in 43 games. 
2023 Prediction: I think either he does something incredible in April or May, or he's DFA'd by August. Maybe both.

Tomorrow, some intriguing pieces of another anything-but-boring Marlins team.

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