Your Michael Saunders Expectations

So it's Tuesday and I completely spaced on thinking up something to write for the weekly Gillette post, so here's filler. And by filler, I mean a poll!

Of all the players on the Mariners, and of all the players who've come through the Mariners' system over the past several years, there've been few that I wanted to see succeed more than Michael Saunders. I was biased in his favor early when I found out he's a big left-handed Canadian hockey fan, but aside from that, his collection of tools was so appealing. Coming up, he was billed as a guy who could run, field, take a pitch, hit balls to the gaps, and hit balls over the gaps. He looked like he could be Randy Winn, only better, and cheaper. After he slugged .544 as a 22-year-old in Tacoma in 2009, I knew that I couldn't wait to see him up close, and I was certain he'd be a good player.

Obviously, things haven't gone as hoped so far for Saunders with Seattle. The long and short of it is that he's come to the plate 515 times as a Mariner, and over those 515 plate appearances, he's batted .215/.282/.342. All of his abilities are there - we've seen them each on several occasions - but I don't know that we've ever seen them all at once. He's had his periods of good power, he's had his periods of good patience, and he's had his periods of good other things, but to this point he hasn't been able to put them together.

Which is worrisome. The positive is that Saunders is the same age as Justin Smoak. Additionally, we know he still has all his tools, and there have been some signs that the adjustments he and the coaching staff made to his swing might be taking. It's not like Saunders has gone up and looked like Josh Wilson, even if the batting line is lousy.

But the negative is that, for as young as he is, Saunders doesn't seem to be making great strides. He's still swinging at too many bad pitches, he's still swinging through too many good pitches, and he still isn't controlling the outer half of the plate. Nobody's real worried about Saunders' defense, but his offense inspires little confidence, even now that he's become something of an experienced big leaguer.

So I want to take this chance to see where people stand on Saunders right now. I know I'm not the only person who's been pulling for him real hard, but I also know I'm not the only person who's been disappointed. Are you still hopeful, or are you losing your buzz?

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