Here is a fun activity. I'm going to put some arbitrary stats into a table with names like Player 1, Player 2, etc. and we can guess who each player is. (All stats through August 31)
Any guesses on who these hitters might be? If you guessed Bryce Harper, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Nelson Cruz and Mike Trout in that order -- you are correct. To a certain extent, those names make sense. Those five, to varying degrees of success, have been some of the better hitters in the majors for a while now.
But what about mystery player number six? That little surprising guy is our own Franklin Gutierrez.
Now, of course, this is an exercise in futility from the start, because Guti has less than 150 plate appearances on the season. Everyone else on that list (save for Cabrera and his paltry 400+ plate appearances) has gone to bat well over 500 times. I'm not even sure that Gutierrez can survive 500 trips to the plate, but that doesn't mean we should overlook his success, especially in the month of August.
Gutierrez was one of the best Mariners in the course of August via fWAR, and if you consider how much less time it took him to do his damage, then he really was the best Mariner last month. Just take a look at the stats.
And Guti did this basically with half of the plate appearances of Cruz or Cano. Guti was worth 1.3 fWAR in the month of August. That is good for 21st out of the entire league, and the same thing about plate appearances goes for that. For one month, one player we all wish and hope to succeed has been doing that -- and then some.
It's hard to imagine a better player to watch this sort of slight resurgence happen to. Guti's health issues are quite well known in this circle. From strained hamstrings, torn pectorals, and concussions from errant pickoff attempts, all with a lurking and difficult to diagnose case of ankylosing spondylitis looming over everything, Gutierrez has almost had what was once a very promising career sidelined by injuries. But the key word there is almost. He was smart and took a minor league contract and the Mariners were smart to not completely give up faith in the outfielder.
Gutierrez, by all accounts, played himself into contract consideration for next year. Sure, he'll be 33 next year, and Gutierrez is hardly the shining example of perfect health in baseball, but right now he is showing pep in his step. The Mariners should reward that -- not with anything that severe or faithful, but an incentive-laden contract should do the trick. Because as long as he keeps on hitting like he is, cheering Gutierrez on is one of the better reasons to tune into a Mariners game.