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40 in 40: Shed Long, Jr.

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Our resident bespectacled short king doesn’t have a clear role on the roster in 2021 just yet

Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Did Shed Long, Jr. get fired on his day off, so to speak?

Unfortunately for him, that may be the case. As the 2020 Mariners roster was already overstuffed with utility-type players like Long, his injury shortened season and poor production due to that injury came at the worst possible time for his young MLB career. The 2021 roster is just as chock-full of utility player competition that Long will have to contend with.

After a very strong 2020, Dylan Moore seems to have mostly reserved his spot at second base, which is Long’s best position. Unless a trade or free agent signing for a left fielder happens between now and the beginning of the season, Long looks to be one of the several stopgap left fielders that may end up on the roster. He’ll have to prove it with his bat in Spring Training and outhit the likes of Jose Marmolejos, Jake Fraley, and probably Sam Haggerty, too. Long has been serviceable in the outfield in small samples so far, but having him as the long term LF after coming back from a leg injury gives me pause. If he hits well enough to force his way into the lineup, it’s a moot point. They’ll find a place for him and who knows what’ll change between now and midseason due to injuries across the roster.

per Fangraphs

Shed’s 2020’s got off to a rough start before he decided to close up shop after 34 games to address the lingering pain in his right shin that had started back in Spring Training. He caught a foul tip off his shin against the Rangers in September which caused him to no longer be able to grit through it. It turned out to be a stress fracture and he had surgery shortly thereafter.

Over on Long’s Instagram, he’s been very diligent in his surgery rehab and is clearly motivated to make his bid for the roster as strong as it can possibly be.

We’ve seen the raw power Shed can unleash. If he’s fully healthy going into 2021, then I see no reason why we won’t see some more moonshots like this one in Pittsburgh in 2019 that nearly took a swim in the Allegheny.

A jovial and easy-going Alabama dude through and through, and famously not a fan of how water tastes, Shed Long, Jr.’s playful attitude, huge smile, and general good nature makes him an extremely easy player to root for. The last few years, Jerry Dipoto has noticeably focused on acquiring “high character” type players. This can be derided as silly sports pseudo-science, but building a core of young players like Long, J.P. Crawford, Evan White, Justus Sheffield, and on and on, who actually seem to like each other and hang out outside of the games will certainly pay off once the team starts winning lots of games and makes a bid for contention. Does it lead to contention? Probably not directly, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

In 2021, Long has control of his baseball destiny as much as any human being does in this unpredictable world. If he’s 100% healthy and is productive at the plate, he stands to get plenty of playing time at various positions. If he fails to do so, then 2021 will likely be the last we see of Shed Long, Jr., Seattle Mariner, given the wealth of other options at the positions he plays. Go get ‘em, Shed. We’re in your corner.