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2018 Mariners Exit Interviews: The Optimus Primes (Ages 27-28)

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How did the Mariners’ prime-aged players perform?

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Every year, after the dust has settled from the regular season, we at LL like to look back at the year that was, and what that suggests about the year that will be. In past years, we’ve divided this up by position group; this year, we’ll be trying something new: examining the contributions of each player by age. The Mariners have a rep as being one of the oldest teams in MLB, thanks to an eternally-dry farm system and several top-heavy contracts. But who produces how much value, and at what age?

A note: throughout this series, we’ll be basing our calculations off FanGraphs for both Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) and the prediction system ZiPS.

Yesterday, we looked at the youngest members of the system, ages 26 and younger, who accounted for 7 of the Mariners’ total 35 fWAR, or 20%. (Thanks, Edwin!) Today we look at players who are ostensibly in their prime baseball-playing years. It’s...it’s not great.

Mike Zunino (27)

Projected fWAR: 2.0

Actual fWAR: 1.5

This was supposed to be the year of Mike Zunino. Spring Training is always a fickle beast, but Z was on fire for all of camp, swinging a hot bat and building a ton of momentum headed into the season. But then it was announced Zunino wouldn’t be able to start Opening Day due to an oblique injury, and Z never really got his season back on track. Another injury around the All-Star Break cost him even more time. Zu’s defense offset his terrible year at the plate, value-wise, but it’s another disappointing season for a player who’s not so young anymore. -Kate Preusser

Zach Vincej (27)

Projected fWAR: 0.2

Actual fWAR: 0.0

Vincej toiled in Triple-A Tacoma for the majority of the season, getting just a scant four plate appearances in the majors. He managed to record two hits in those plate appearances, however, giving him a delightful slash line of .500/.500/.500 on the season. Vincej chose free agency after the season, which I would have too, if Gordon Beckham got all my MLB plate appearances. -KP

James Pazos (27)

Projected fWAR: 0.6

Actual fWAR: 0.5

Though his troubling second half might not have reflected it, there was a point where Papa Paz was one of the Mariners’ most vital arms. Unfortunately, both command and velocity took a second-half holiday for Pazos, sending him to Tacoma for the first time in his career. The Mariners believed his issues were mechanical more than physical, and if that’s the case, he could help improve the M’s pen next year. Still pre-arbitration, should Paz emerge in Spring shooting out 93 mph BBs, as he was in the second half, instead of 95 mph lasers, there’ll be cause for concern. - John Trupin

Mike Morin (27)

Projected fWAR: 0.3

Actual fWAR: 0.1

Stop what you’re doing. Pause those rapidly scrolling eyes, and take a minute.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Mike Morin.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Mike Morin.

Mike Morin. MM. M&Ms. Delicious chocolate-y treats. Trick or treating. Halloween. Scary. The second half of 2018. Bullpen mess. Mike Morin.

Twenty years from now, as you’re doing Sporcle Quizzes with your bifocals, remember this name. You can thank me in 2038. -Isabelle Minasian

Guillermo Heredia (27)

Projected fWAR: -0.2

Actual fWAR: .1

Some players are more than just their stats, and Guillermooooooo, with his infectious personality and obvious love of the game of baseball, is one of them. Guillermo showed a little more pop in the bat this season, and bumped his walk rate up to a strong 9.5%. He still needs a movie montage-style baserunning boot camp, but as a fourth outfielder/defensive replacement, G is A-OK. -KP

Mitch Haniger (27)

Projected fWAR: 1.9

Actual fWAR: 4.6 fWAR

Mitch Haniger was the Mariners’ best player. He will likely begin 2019 as he finished 2018: in the leadoff spot, where he is one of the sport’s premier players. He is a star, and frankly were that not the case the Mariners would have been dead in the water a month earlier. To see Haniger step up to the plate was, too often, to see the team’s line shot at scoring runs in a turn through the lineup, but he delivered. Kate may be a teacher, accustomed to doling out A’s and B’s, but I was raised on JRPG’s, and an S this man has earned.-JT

Shawn Armstrong (27 during 2018 season)

Projected fWAR: 0.5

Actual fWAR: 0.2

After being acquired from Cleveland with some of the unspent Shohei Ohtani International Slot Money, Shawn Armstrong found himself outrighted off the Mariners 40-man roster at the beginning of spring training. He stuck around in the organization but his roster status and lack of options forced him to spend most of the year in Tacoma. He was excellent in Triple-A and earned a call up at the end of August. He appeared in 14 games during the last month of the season and quickly became a trusted option in middle relief. With little roster flexibility, the Mariners will need to commit to keeping Armstrong on the 25-man roster in 2019. I doubt he’ll pass through waivers unclaimed again. -Jake Mailhot

Jean Segura (28)

Projected fWAR: 2.0

Actual fWAR: 3.8

The first half of Segura’s 2018, more than anything, epitomized the fun baseball can be. Then he took that fun, held it up to a funhouse mirror, and bellowed YOU KNOW HOW I GOT THESE SCARRRRRRRS?! There was no single player who more perfectly epitomized this season at every atomic moment than Jean Segura. As amazing as the walkoffs and #SentSegura campaign were, the second half was equally petrifying. The overall line isn’t bad, but whispers surrounding what, exactly, his role was in instigating the Dee Gordon fight led to questions across the board about his role in Seattle, despite a very team-friendly contract continuing to run through his prime years with a full no-trade. -Tim Cantu

Erasmo Ramírez (28)

Projected fWAR: 1.1

Actual fWAR: -.6

Oh, Erasmo. “Mito” was supposed to hold down the back end of the rotation, building on his strong finish to the 2017 season. Remember when he pitched eight innings of ten-strikeout ball against Cleveland last season? That was fun. Instead, a lat injury kept Erasmo out until mid-August, and he was hit hard upon his return to the rotation. This is Ramírez’s final year of arbitration before free agency, and he’s out of minor-league options. He’s set to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $4.4M, money that seems like it could be allocated elsewhere. -KP

Taylor Motter (28 during 2018 season)

Projected fWAR: 1.1

Actual fWAR: -0.3

There once was a Taylor named Motter

He was nowhere near as cool as Harry Potter

He pissed everyone off, M’s told him to fuck off

And he dinked around for a bit in Minnesoter

-ES

Mike Marjama (28 during 2018 season)

Projected fWAR: 0.3

Actual fWAR: -0.3

The post-baseball life of a professional baseball player is often shrouded in secrecy. Not by any real intent, but simply because most baseball players define themselves by the game, so when they finally retire most of them sort of...fade into the mist. Or they go on to manage the Orioles.

But for Mike Marjama, baseball was never his sole identity, so though his time in the majors might have been a highlight for many, it won’t be his defining legacy. And I think that’s just how he’d like it. - IM

Chasen Bradford (28 during 2018 season)

Projected fWAR: 0.5

Actual fWAR: -0.3

Another fungible relief arm acquired during the offseason, Chasen Bradford contributed 53 innings out of the bullpen. His greatest value to the team was his rubber arm. He was deployed in long relief, middle relief, and basically anywhere that wasn’t high leverage. That’s good because besides his ability to soak up innings, he wasn’t all that great. His strikeout rate was well below average for a modern reliever and he had a bit of a home run problem. But every team needs back-end reliever to make it through a season and Bradford performed that role admirably. -JM

John Andreoli (28)

Projected fWAR: 1.3

Actual fWAR: 0.0

Ravioli, macaroni, best of luck with the Oriolis! - IM

Total fWAR for this age group: 9.6, thanks mostly to Jean and Mitch

That’s about 27% of the total 35 fWAR the team was worth this year, but it wasn’t evenly distributed among this age group, at all: Jean and Mitch combined to contribute 88% of the total fWAR for this group. Blessings on the Hanigura trade forever.