Today the Mariners lost 12-1. Expecting victory from a game against Clayton Kershaw would have been foolhardy, particularly with Roenis Elías on the hill, Chris Herrmann behind the plate, and Jean Segura helping welcome a new member of his family. It would’ve been dandy not to witness a blowout, but many people claim a blowout victory is more pleasant than a close game with missed opportunities. I tend to hold to that belief as well. After Friday’s clobbering, my mind began to wonder whether the proximity of blowouts had a more dramatic impact on the psyche. At the very least, it has settled one debate in my mind.
I never want to see Andrew Romine pitch again.
Much has been written on the proliferation of position-player pitching, and that its popularity may be ruining the novelty. The appeal of non-pitchers taking the hill has always broken down into three paths:
- Hidden Talent - A position player takes the hill and proceeds to show off 90+ mph velocity and/or a wicked breaking pitch.
- So Bad It’s Good - A position player looks cartoonishly uncoordinated in their attempts to navigate the mound, with looping pitches and a creative motion unlike anything approaching a day-to-day experience.
- A Legend Has a Go - A beloved/actually skilled position player get on the hill and adds another feather to their cap, assuming they avoid injury.
The Mariners had 12 position players entering today’s game. I decided to rank them in order of which I would have most enjoyed seeing take the hill in the late stages of today’s blowout.
C/UTIL Chris Herrmann
Herrmann would have likely slotted in around 8th. He’s long been known for a strong arm, but my lack of attachment to the journeyman spring addition makes it tough for him to stand out in any fashion other than Path 1. Regardless, Herrmann took a foul ball off the knee and was out of the game following the eternal top of the 1st, wherein Roenis Elías spotted Clayton Kershaw a 5-0 lead.
11. UTIL Andrew Romine
Romine has now thrown 3.0 innings for Seattle and 5.2 innings in his career. His velocity has topped out at 89 mph this year, making him Mike Leake minus everything that makes Mike Leake successful. His minimalist motion and already minor role on the team make his appearances as exasperating as they are predictable. Between hitting Manny Machado on the hand and this batting practice fare, there was no joy to be had.
We can do better. Or at least weirder.
The Wishful Thoughts
10. DH Nelson Cruz
The 2011 blurb on Cruz from Baseball Prospectus describes that “he showed all five tools an ability to hit for average and superlative power, a solid glove, a rocket arm, and surprising speed,” and his 2013 blurb note “he still wields a cannon for a right arm.” Unfortunately, it would be a fireable offense to allow a 38 year-old Cruz and on a pitching mound.
9. 2B/1B Robinson Canó
Canó is less of a risk than Cruz purely by being four years his junior. While Robi’s signature sidearm sling would be absolutely spectacular to behold from the hill, it’s just not worth the risk.
The Outfielders With Drawbacks
8. OF Mitch Haniger
I love watching Mitch play for the Mariners more than most people outside his conspicuously large family. It is with that love that I say I’ve never seen a clumsier elite athlete than Haniger. Whether it’s sliding, fielding a ball on a hop, or literally any other activity besides hitting and throwing a baseball, Haniger seems constantly at risk of a fluke injury. While Mitch likely has one of the strongest arms in the American League, I want him far from the pitching mound and sidewalks with cracks.
7. OF Cameron Maybin
I’m sure Cameron Maybin would be fine on the hill. Much like Herrmann, as a part-time player who has only spent minimal time on the big-league roster, I lack the personal connection to feel a Path 3 satisfaction, and I fear his arsenal might be mundane despite a respectable arm.
6. OF Denard Span
Despite arm strength that might give Johnny Damon some Rafael Palmeiro-like urges, Span is left-handed and in his mid-30s, which grandfathers him into intrigue via the “Crafty Lefty” clause. Seeing Span slinging 78 mph fastballs with sink to the bemusement of his teammates would be a delight, and Span marks the crossing of players I would legitimately feel good seeing enter the game.
The Cannon and the Goofballs
5. C Mike Zunino
If we’re looking for the strongest arm on the team, the best fastball from a non-pitcher might be held within the arm of the man catching most of them. We’ve seen Z uncork blazing heat from behind the dish. The likelihood of an injury seems low, but despite his more fluid form, I can’t imagine risking the team’s best backstop on mop-up duty.
4. 3B Kyle Seager
Long expected to cap his potential as a utility player, Kyle Seager is the greatest developmental success story of this decade for the Mariners. A return to his UTIL roots in a position player pitching performance would be a delight, and Seager’s seemingly rubber arm would encourage a minimal injury risk. Would Kyle drop down sidearm like he often does to charge a slow roller? I’d stick around a 10-run blowout to find out.
3. 2B/CF/UTIL Dee Gordon
The captain of Team Fun would be a guaranteed entertainment factory on the hill. The trouble for Dee would be in execution, as middling arm strength hastened his shift away from shortstop. If there was any player unafraid to test out a variety of arm slots, pitches, and, likely, pickoff moves, it’d be Dee.
2. 1B Ryon Healy
Ryon ekes out Dee for the penultimate spot on two grounds. First, as a younger player with minimal demands on his arm in most games, he’s a more plausible choice. Secondly, as a former 3B, it’s easy to envision the massive RyOn on the hill, grinning goofily as he fiddles with his next offering. Will the owner of a .927 career fielding percentage at 3B know where it’s headed? Probably not, but it’ll be a hoot to watch.
- OF Guillermo Heredia
Guillermo’s infectious enthusiasm and full-effort defense have made him a well-liked fourth OF. While he has solid instincts at the plate and in the field, without question it seems that his best tool is his powerful arm. From the left side, it seems likely Guillermo would be as likely to spike four straight fastballs as he would be to throw a strike, but it’d be a delight to watch him figure out his approach.
Guillermo has potential to bring entertainment through all three paths. We’ve seen him hit low-90s from a rough equivalent to the stretch. Next time, let’s let him loose.