They say you're supposed to introduce your article declaratively so I thusly declare: In a season of disappointment no Mariner's failure has been as absolute as Mike Zunino. Triple slash numbers are rudimentary but useful when we are painting with broad brushes. On May 13th against the Padres Zunino went 1-4 with a double (and 3 strikeouts) to raise his line to .188/.255/.385. That is the high point of his offensive numbers in 2015. The peak.
Since then Zunino's offense has gone from bad to exceptionally, horrifically, oh god who is director of this film there is blood there's so much blood is there a bag under my seat we had popcorn earlier WHERE IS THAT POPCORN BAG! I am going to show you Zunino's 1st 3 weeks in June but you need to be warned - It is bad. It is very, very bad. If you are not in possession of both breakfast and a stern constitution I recommend closing this tab, going outside, and getting some exercise instead. Quick, before it gets too hot.
0 7 walks. 4 singles.
For comparison, 2015 pitchers: .131/.154/.158. The joke about DH'ing Zunino and letting the pitcher hit is tired and lazy. It also would have potentially actually improved the Mariners offense a good portion of June.
It's no secret what kills Zunino's offense. It's the strikeouts, stupid. Of all the players to get more than 150 plate appearances this year none of them strike out at a greater rate than Mike Zunino's 36.7%. That rate is crippling. The future of Zunino's career largely depends on whether he can get that rate below ~28%, his rate in Tacoma. Anything lower is probably just wishcasting at this point. We are far enough along in Mike Zunino's career that his offensive skillset, such as it is, is basically established.
Strengths: Smile, strength.
Weakness: Does not contact the ball with his bat yet continues to try at an inadvisable rate.
Mike Zunino's future in baseball will be dependent on his finding a way to minimize his issues with contact and patience while not sacrificing his power. He is never going to have an OBP of .350. He'd be lucky to get it to .330. He's never, ever going to have a below average strikeout rate. But can he make enough contact? Can he draw enough walks? Can he do those things while maintaining the ability to drive the ball consistently when he does make contact?
For the past week, whether it's just small sample size flukiness, a small mental adjustment or the sage wisdom of Edgar Martinez (please be this) we have seen what is probably pretty close to peak Mike Zunino:
That line has everything we just talked about. Above average strikeout rate? Yep. Low walk rate? You got it. BABIP flukiness? .235 so a bit but not in the beneficial way. Very large ISO? Oh yeah.
For the past week Mike Zunino has gone from a poor hitting pitcher crippling his team's offense to something close to the best case scenario of himself. There is no way he is this good going forward, just as there was no way he was that bad earlier. Baseball is a game where success is about making your steps forward a yard long and your steps backwards two feet, six inches. Move forward, Mike. Make the nice man clap.