First Half In Review: Passing Out The Grades (Position Players)

So we've reached the halfway point of the season, which is actually the 56.2% point of the season, which is two Cleveland rainouts away from being the 57.4% point of the season. It is around this time of year, every year, that Major League Baseball takes a vacation from being interesting and puts on both a home run derby and an All-Star Game to cover a three-day break in the action. There's also a futures game and a celebrity softball game that cater to different audiences, but one thing those audiences have in common is their size, which is little.

But while the break is kind of shitty for those who don't enjoy the Home Run Derby or the All-Star Game, which is everyone, it does provide an opportunity to step back and review everything that's happened over the course of the first three months. As the season rolls along, we tend to get sucked into the day-by-day. We can't help it. At the break, we can view the bigger picture. We can, for example, go over the Mariners' first 91 games, instead of their most recent five. Those recent five games were important, given the context, but the 91 games are the context, and now we have a chance to reflect on them.

It's with that in mind that I'm going to pass out my annual first half report card, beginning with the position players. And to accompany the report card, I will issue my annual statement that these grades are 100% subjective and 100% meaningless, and if you get mad about any of them, any of them at all, you are reading this wrong, because the grades do not matter and you take things too seriously. Not only is this just sports - this is a blog post about sports that none of the players are likely to read, and the grades will not go on any of their permanent records. I don't think their parents will even find out. These given grades have all the significance of an underfoot pine cone. Stupid pine cone.

In theory, the grades are based on individual performance vs. league performance.

Dustin Ackley: A
Hey all right, we're starting with an A! A for Ackley! That's a great way to get this thing kicked off. But don't get used to seeing A's, because this is the only one of them. Ackley has come up and been everything we could've imagined, and somehow even more. He's hit for contact, he's hit for power, he's shown a good eye, he's run well, and he's played solid defense. The only thing he hasn't done is pull a Smoak and slow down when he realizes that nobody else is going to help, but hey, no worries, there's still plenty of time.

Josh Bard: C
Josh Bard has played in seven games and he has the third-highest slugging percentage on the team, behind Ackley and Doug Fister. Josh Bard is slugging .435. So that kind of tells you how things have gone.

Milton Bradley: C-
Milton Bradley's dismissal made so much sense at the time. He wasn't showing any consistency at the plate, his defense looked terrible, and he appeared as stable as the Viaduct. Then the Mariners replaced him with Carlos Peguero. Say, you know who's still available? Milton Bradley.

Mike Carp: C-
Carp didn't do a whole lot during his limited opportunity, but he did hit a number of balls hard and he drew six unintentional walks, which is one more unintentional walk drawn than Carlos Peguero, in 110 fewer plate appearances. Overall, it looks pretty bad that a team with this lousy an offense found so little time for a bat like Carp while it was hanging in the race. Fortunately, that's no longer a concern of ours.

Jack Cust: C
Perhaps the most perplexing thing about how this team has been run this season is that Jack Cust started losing playing time only after he broke out of his miserable April slump. Jack Cust has a .353 OBP. A .353 OBP! A .353 OBP leads to scoring runs!

Chone Figgins: F
Figgins is due something like $21 million between now and the end of his contract, which is frequently cited as a reason why the team won't just cut him and move on. I don't see why it matters. In theory you could keep playing him in the hopes that he turns things around and becomes something vaguely useful, but (A) I doubt it, and (B) how are you going to do that with Ackley, Ryan, Seager and Kennedy all hanging around? I admit that I haven't thought this one completely through, but, yeah.

Chris Gimenez: D
I honestly barely remember Gimenez doing anything, and the numbers tell me there's a reason for that.

Franklin Gutierrez: F+
I know an F+ isn't actually a grade, but I needed some way to invoke the power of the F while still separating Guti from true failures like Figgins and Saunders. At least Guti has been himself in the field, by which I mean he's been amazing. But for God's sake, the man has a .445 OPS. Why isn't F+ a grade, anyway? All the other letters get pluses and minuses. I get that F = Failure and failing is failing, but there are degrees of failure, and one should be told when he's been a borderline failure, or an abject failure.

Greg Halman: B+
I don't think there's a lot that's sustainable about what Halman has done, given that he has two walks and 19 strikeouts, but he does have a 113 OPS+, he's hit a number of balls hard, and he's been terrific in the outfield. In the time that he's had, he's contributed.

Ichiro: C-
This grade could probably be lower. Ichiro had an extended slump that earned him a day off, and when he came back with 18 hits in nine games, so many people just assumed that he was fine. Well, since then he's batted .233 over 77 trips to the plate. His average is actually .313 if you go all the way back to his day off, which would suggest that he's doing okay, but it hasn't been a consistent .313, and now I'm right back to being worried again. There are a number of people at fault for the Mariners' struggles to score, and Ichiro is most assuredly among them.

Adam Kennedy: B
Adam Kennedy hasn't actually been particularly good. His OPS+ is exactly league-average, and he's been somewhat protected from facing lefties. But on this team, he's a hero, simply because he's done something. I'm appreciative for Adam Kennedy, too, just because I don't know how much worse things would've been without him, but, holy crap. The things we're forced to celebrate sometimes.

Ryan Langerhans: C
The only thing Langerhans really did poorly was play defense in center field, and everything else was fine. Nothing was great, but, this is Ryan Langerhans we're talking about. Ryan Langerhans, who probably would've made this team a win or two better if it'd played him every day. His time with the big club was limited but not ineffective, which is a good way to describe his entire career.

Adam Moore: C
Moore played in two games and broke himself, and he has a better grade than the team's highest-paid player. I don't know if that says more about me, or more about the team's highest-paid player. Moore is frequently sighted joking around in the dugout, probably because he knows he won't be associated with this nightmare of an offense.

Miguel Olivo: B-
I know that Olivo's OBP is revolting, but he's hit for power, by and large he's been durable, and I'm giving him super extra bonus points for his intangible handling of the pitching staff. One must note that, since May 31st, Olivo has hit .200/.205/.455, with 30 strikeouts and a walk he didn't think he drew. That's so bizarrely bad I think it's awesome.

Carlos Peguero: D-
Peguero's a bad player now who is by no means ready for the Major Leagues, and who will probably never be ready for the Major Leagues, but he has at least socked a few dingers at a few important spots, and he hasn't been Chone Figgins-level gross. In other words, the Mariners will pay $9 million this season to a player who is arguably worse than a raw young outfielder who by all rights belongs in double-A.

Luis Rodriguez: C-
Rodriguez only managed a .562 OPS over 87 trips, but I think that undersells the quality of the at bats he put together, and I feel like his batted ball profile was better than his results. He is perfectly capable of manning a Major League bench, and hopefully he gets that opportunity somewhere on a more permanent basis.

Brendan Ryan: B
Ryan has not been a good hitter, and he's actually been terrible ever since moving up to #2 in the lineup. Yet his offense hasn't been atrocious, he's been durable, he's been enthusiastic, he's run the bases well, and he's been outstanding in the field. Brendan Ryan has been pretty much exactly as advertised, and if this is all he ever is, I'm just fine with keeping him for a small number of years.

Michael Saunders: F
When I was much much younger, I went through this phase where I wanted to keep buying fruit and vegetable seeds so we could plant food in the backyard garden. One time I got my hands on some cucumber seeds and planted them in the corner. After a while passed, I went out back to check on the developments and noticed that a cucumber - the first cucumber - was just beginning to form. I was excited about the success, but the cucumber stopped growing as suddenly as it began, and I was left with but an inch-long cucumber. It would be the only cucumber that grew.

Kyle Seager: C
Kyle Seager has played three games. Great job, kid.

Justin Smoak: B
All attention lately has been on Smoak's dreadful slump, and to be sure, it's been ugly. Smoak is one of the biggest reasons why this lineup has stopped scoring runs. But you can't consider Smoak's slump without also considering his earlier hot streak, and right now he's a 24-year-old with a 111 OPS+. That's much higher than he had in his time last year with Texas, and it's much higher than he had in his time last year with Seattle. I'm a little worried, but Smoak's first half had plenty of positives to go with the negatives.

Jack Wilson: D-
Still on the team, he is! Wilson has started eight games since the beginning of June and what's amazing is that it doesn't even feel like that many. Remember that one double play he turned at second base where he grazed the bag with his foot? Remember when he removed himself from a game after committing a couple errors in Texas? Does that feel like it happened in 2011, or 2008?

Mike Wilson: D-
I guess Wilson could probably get an F if I wanted to be a real meanie, but the man didn't play, and I remember him hitting a few balls really hard. He was so happy to be in the Majors. So sincerely, genuinely happy. At least he can hold his playing time over Jose Yepez's head, if he wants to be a real jerk about it.

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