First base is, contrary to what Ron Washington may tell us, pretty easy to play. Seattle has seen some strong individual players at the position in the past ("Big Sexy" Sexson 2005-06) and some miserable performances ("Sexiled" Sexson 2007-08) but this season we were delivered two entertaining power hitters for the price of one.
For righties, there was Adam Lind, who could reasonably be expected to wallop righties with regularity. For lefties, Dae-Ho Lee, an intriguing international signing whose stellar spring training was encouraging even as there were concerns about his physical health and the feasibility of his timing-reliant, leg-kicking swing.
As we know, the season has played out a bit differently. Dae-Ho won our hearts with an outrageously high WPA-equivalent of BABIP out of the gate, and has continued to provide excellent value on his $1 million contract, even as his June sun rays (180 wRC+) have given way to July sad days (84 wRC+).
Lind took the more difficult path for a new signee, rapidly souring fans towards him with a putrid April that he is still digging himself out of, despite some late-game heroics and excellent jumper form. As a few articles here have noted already, Lind's BABIP cratering in the first half, including an incredible .156 in June, will likely not continue to defy his career averages so drastically, even if he may be declining overall.
The platoon that began the season with very clear roles has become a bit more fluid, but each player has seen around 200 PAs while at first base this season, and, as a platoon effectively is combining multiple players into one, we can look at their combined production as one person.
Then I tried to look at their combined faces as a person too, using online face morphing software, which I absolutely regret.
Considering Adae-Ho is exactly league average at the plate, with a top 10 ISO, it is unfortunate that they have been essentially replacement level due to their plodding defense and baserunning. Even if Leend does not see a slight improvement in the second half from their goatee'd half, they will still be an improvement on last year's abomination.
|2015||Logan Morrison,Jesus Montero,Mark Trumbo||94||-0.7||88||.163|
Limiting the options to players given the organization's trust for at least 15 starts, the M's most recent attempt at a platoon created Logark, a hydra of brohood whose departure has made this season's mediocrity at the position wildly palatable. Looking deeper into the void, we begin to see greater commitment to individuals, but even these "starters" were not free of mutation.
|LoMo,Justin Smoak,Kendrys Morales||111||0.8||97||.149|
Smoales' defensive performance was better than what 2015's disaster held, but the offensive production, particularly due to one of their member's legendary warning-track power, were underwhelming.
It was a simpler time for Smoales, but the simplicity did not translate to better overall production. The offensive numbers improved, but, much like 2016, the rest of the package dragged down the overall result.
According to Google Translate, "cak" means "nay" in Bosnian, which seems about right.
|2011||Smoak, Carp, Adam Kennedy||136||1.5||99||.155|
The first nearly decent monster created by the Mariners at the position, they stood as a bulwark between the abject misery that preceded them and the disappointments that lay ahead. We were so young, and some of us believed in Jusdam. I remember seeing Kemarp jerseys on kids all over Safeco right after he joined the team. If only we knew then what he was to become.
|2010||Casey Kotchman, Smoak||104||-2.2||73||.124|
Unconscionable. As though an ancient Babylonian stumbled across MLB 2k10 and decided to create an offering to Nergal, the god of death, Jusey Koak was brought into this world with the sole purpose of suffering, and suffer we did.
Dae-Ho Lee may have lost a bit of his magic and Adam Lind might be old. They might both be in line for a resurgence or, in Lind's case, continue their current resurgence. As they are, they have been enough for the Mariners to be a decent team, and that just might be enough. If nothing else, however, take solace in the fact that they will never, ever be Jusey Koak.