Seattle Mariners: Projecting the 2018 Opening Day Lineup

There is no better word to describe the Seattle Mariners lineup in 2017 than by using the word average. The mediocre offensive production ranked in the middle of Major League Baseball in the majority of all notable offensive categories. This includes ranking 15th in runs, 17th in home runs, and 15th in on-base percentage in all of baseball, numbers that aren’t scary to any opposing pitchers.

The positive for the Mariners, however, is that those numbers are in the past and the time to improve is now. With new additions Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy and a matured offense, their sights are aimed higher than just mediocrity.

Dee Gordon, CF
Acquired from the Miami Marlins in the offseason, Gordon has been tremendously consistent since the 2014 season. While the switch from second base to center field may raise a red flag defensively, his offense should be more than welcomed to this club as their table-setter.

Gordon has hit over .300 in two of his previous three seasons including over 200 hits in 2015 and 2017. His best asset is his speed, which has helped him nab 212 stolen bases since 2014. Gordon should provide plenty of run-scoring opportunities for the heart of this order.

Jean Segura, SS
Not quite the same numbers he put up in his time in Arizona where he was one of the leagues best hitters. Nonetheless, Segura put together another solid year at the plate. Finishing the season batting .300 with 43 extra-base hits, Segura was one of the Mariners’ few bright spots on offense in 2017.

Moving to the second spot in the order between Gordon and Cano should only boost Segura’s output at the plate. The sure-handed shortstop will look to live up to his big contract with another strong season in 2018.

Robinson Cano, 2B
Arguably the Mariners best all-around-talent, Robinson Cano regressed in 2017. Hitting .280 with 23 home runs along with 97 RBI’s would be a fine season for any other second baseman, though those are numbers that scarcely reflect Cano’s production. With an improved top of the order, Cano should have more opportunities with runners on to pad his stats, an opportunity he doesn’t often pass up.

Nelson Cruz, DH
Even going into his age 37 season, expectations remain high for Nelson Cruz as a run producer for this Mariners squad. With 126 home runs and a .292 average during his tenure, Cruz has been all that the Mariners could have asked for when they signed the 13-year veteran. With a Silver Slugger, an All-Star game appearance, and MVP votes just a season ago, there is little reason to think Cruz cannot have a repeat performance.

Kyle Seager, 3B
Kyle Seager, or as he likes to be known as, Corey’s brother, has quietly been one of the baseballs most underrated hitters. 162-game averages of .263, 25 home runs, and 85 RBI’s have made him a consistent force in the middle of the Mariners’ lineup over his seven-year career. His impact from the left side of the plate is welcomed in a 2018 Mariners’ lineup that will boast an even supply of righties and lefties. With a bit of a dropoff following Seager, it is not out of the question to see his walks go up this season.

Mike Zunino, C
The most-improved Mariner from a season ago, Zunino took tremendous strides in transforming his offensive output. With a career-high batting average of .214 prior to 2017, Zunino .251 along with 25 home runs, setting career-highs. Another strong season with improvements and Zunino can cement himself in the Mariners’ plans long-term while putting himself in the conversation for top-ten in the league at his position.

Ben Gamel, LF
With his first full season of major league at-bats, the former Yankee made the most of his opportunity. Showing his upside in 2017, Gamel put up a .322 OBP, a solid output for a lower third of the order bat. Gamel does need to cut down on his strikeouts, though he has the upside to be a good complimentary piece to this lineup.

Ryon Healy, 1B
Acquired in the offseason from the Oakland Athletics, Healy burst onto the scene in 2017. The 25-year-old showed off the pop in his bat to the tune of 25 long balls and a .271 average. With only two years of major league service time under his belt, Healy still has time to grow and develop. A player with the potential Healy does batting eighth shows how much this lineup has continued to develop and the potential it has.

Mitch Haniger, RF
Another player acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks a season ago, Haniger is another example of a player making the most out of their opportunity. With a .352 OBP, a season ago Haniger showed he has more than enough ability to consistently get on base. That is why batting him ninth gives the top of the lineup all the more likelihood of having men on base. Haniger rounds out what has to be considered a dangerous lineup when healthy as a threat to opposing pitchers from top to bottom.