I originally started writing this article right after the Mariners signed AJ Pollock, but got sidetracked with life. Based on the team’s history with role player/platoon types, or at least what I could remember, I was not very excited about the signing. I wanted to take a deeper dive into just how these types of players have performed for the M’s over the last ten years. The early season results put up by both Pollock and Wong, as well as the conversations surrounding them, brought me back to finish this post.
The criteria I had for these role-players was basically players that were acquired to contribute to the team in defined part time roles, mainly, platooning. I did not include utility players or players who were brought up just to cover injuries. None of these guys were expected to be superstars (except maybe Winker). We didn't expect any of these guys to play 160 games a season. We just wanted them to be solid players that could support the core of the teams they were on.
Jason Bay 0.3 fWAR
Hit .204/.298/.393 over 236 (!) plate appearances. This was good for a 95 wRC+. Coming off of a disappointing run with the Mets, this signing of Bay was not very consequential, although it did end up pushing Casper Wells off the team. Bay would be released by the Mariners on August 6th.
Corey Hart -0.9
The Mariners signed Hart to be their DH/RF for the 2014 season after he missed the entire 2013 season. Just before that, in 2012, he hit for a solid .203/.334/.507 (122 wRC+) and totaled 2.2 fWAR. The Mariners gamble on a bounceback would not be rewarded as Hart stumbled to a .203/.271/.319 triple slash (71 wRC+) and was worth -0.9 fWAR in 68 games and 255 plate appearances.
Stefen Romero -1.2 fWAR
Romero made the team out of Spring Training with Lloyd and the front office hoping he could be a productive right handed bat that could balance out the lineup. He was even worse than Hart. Romero posted a batting line of .192/.234/.299 (52 wRC+) over 190 PA
Chris Denorfia -0.3 fWar
With the Mariners in a playoff race for the first time in years, the trade deadline seemed like a way for the Mariners to improve their chances of making it to the postseason.Their big trade deadline acquisitions were Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia. Jackson was brought in to play full time, but Denorfia was acquired as a solid right handed platoon bat. In 90 PA over 33 games with the Mariners, Denorfia would slash .195/.256/.317 (64 wRC+) and hurt the Mariner’s overall win total with his -0.3 fWAR
*The Mariners missed the playoffs by one game this season
Seth Smith 1.8 fWAR
After years of above average hitting, Smith turned in a 132 wRc+ 2014 with the Padres before coming over to the Mariners. Although his production regressed, he would be one of the only platoon success stories of the last decade. Seth Smith slashed .248/.330/.443 in 452 PA (113 wRC+) in 2015. This would cement Smith as one of the Mariners’ primary corner outfielders for the next few years
Franklin Gutierrez (The Return) 2.3 fWAR
One of the few pleasant stories of 2015, Guti would return from years of injuries to slug an incredible .292/.354/.620 line (167 wRC+!). He accumulated 2.3 fWAR in just 59 games (189 PA). Guti and Smith would be a strong platoon for the Mariners in 2016 as well.
Justin Ruggiano -0.2 fWAR
Smith’s originally intended platoon partner going into the season. Ruggiano was coming off a couple of strong seasons as a lefty masher with the Marlins and Cubs. Unfortunately his production would fall off with the Mariners as he managed just a .214/.321/.357 slash line with the Mariners over 81 PA (95 wRC+). He was traded to the Dodgers on August 31st and caught fire. 60 PA 167 wRC+ (0.6 fWAR).
Rickie Weeks -0.6 fWAR
The 2015 season saw the Mariners run out another former Brewers’ star to be a right handed hitting platoon bat. Although he was coming off of a decent 2014, in which he hit for a 126 wRC+, he was unable to replicate that success in Seattle. Weeks’ Mariner tenure was even worse than Corey Hart’s. In 95 PA across 33 games, Weeks would hit an abysmal .167/.263/.250 (49 wRC+).
Nori Aoki 1.5 fWAR
Nori Aoki actually put up a much better batting line with the Mariners than I remembered. In 118 games, Aoki hit .283/.349/.388 for a 107 wRC+, which was basically in line with his career numbers. I also did not realize he platooned as much as he did. In 320 AB against RHP he put up a 122 wRC+. In 96 AB against LHP, he only put up a 60 wRC+.
Adam Lind -0.1 fWAR
Finally moving on from the Smoak/LoMo era, the front office acquired Adam Lind and Dae Ho Lee to play first base. In the three years prior to joining the Mariners, Lind posted wRC+’s of 132, 142, and 120. With the M’s he would see that number fall to 93. Lind’s walk rate was nearly cut in half - falling to 6.0% from the 11.5% he produced the year before when he played in Milwaukee. Over 126 games, Lind was worth -0.1 fWAR.
Dae Ho Lee -0.2 fWAR
The other side of the platoon, Lee was a loveable fan favorite thanks to his stature and a few clutch hits. Despite starting the season well, Lee would finish the season with -0.2 fWAR. His wRC+ was slightly above league average at 103, but he was exposed after earning more playing time against right handed pitching.
The Guti/Smith platoon returned in 2016 to post respectable wRC+’s of 115 and 111.
Danny Valencia 0.1 fWAR
The right-hander to balance out the corner infield lefties, Valencia was acquired from the Oakland A’s for future all-star Paul Blackburn. As an Athletic in 2016, Valencia played regularly and put up a 117 wRC+ in 130 games. He hit .318 against lefties (129 PA), but still managed a .275 average against righties (342 PA). As a Mariner in 2017, Valencia was not actually used as a platoon advantage hitter, accumulating 149 AB against lefties and 325 AB against righties. He still hit lefties well as evidenced by his 118 wRC+ against them. However, this was offset by the 86 wRC+ he managed against righties (that he probably shouldn’t have been playing so much against). Overall, Valencia registered a 94 wRC+ with poor defense leading to just 0.1 fWAR on the season.
Yonder Alonso 0.3 fWAR
Alonso was acquired mid-season to help Valencia out against right handed hitters. Alonso had had a breakout first-half with the A’s, which earned him an all-star game appearance. With the A’s Alonso’s wRC+ was 139. After the trade, his production regressed a bit, but he did still hit for a solid 118 wRC+ in 150 PA (much better than I remembered).
Jarrod Dyson 2.6 fWAR
Dyson’s wRC+ dropped to 86 from the 95 he posted with the Royals, but with plus defense, he matched his fWAR total of 2.6 in 111 games. With the platoon advantage (291 AB), Dyson batted .271. Good for a wRC+ of exactly 100. Against LHP (55 AB) he managed a wRC+ of just 9.
Guillermo Heredia 1.0 fWAR
Heredia shared time with Dyson in CF, suiting up for 63 games in center field. Heredia would post a meager 64 wRC+ with the platoon advantage in 41 PA.
Ben Gamel 0.8 fWAR
With streaks of great play in 2017, Gamel earned himself a roster spot this season. Gamel played 134 games and was an above average hitter. 107 wRC+ 293 PA. However, defensive metrics were not keen on his work in left field.
Guillermo Heredia 1.0 fWAR
Gamel’s planned platoon partner going into the season, Heredia ended up playing in 125 games (337 PA). He provided solid defense but only hit for 88 wRC+.
The Mariners didn’t really have a strict platoon bat this year. I guess Luis Torrens could qualify here, but he made the team as the backup catcher to Murphy. Torrens batted .243/.299/.431 in 378 PA.
Jake Lamb -0.2 fWAR
The team’s trade deadline bat acquisition, Lamb would barely play with the Mariners. He didn’t do much to earn extra playing time, however. After playing decently in a small sample with the Dodgers, mostly against right handed pitching, he would only get into 16 games with the Mariners (34 PA) and "hit" .167/.265/.300 (70 wRC+).
Luis Torrens -0.3 fWAR
The 2022 version of Torrens came into the season as more of a DH than a catcher. After a strong finish to the 2021 season, Torrens was expected to fill in as a lefty masher, but ended up disappointing. He’d post a wRC+ of 72 and only slug .298 in 166 PA.
Jesse Winker 0.4 fWAR
We all remember how this went. Winker would go from one of the best left handed hitters in baseball to a barely above average hitter for the Mariners. Winker crushed RHP in 2021, putting up a 176 wRC+ against them. In 2022, he would see that number fall by 77 points, as he ended the year with a 99 wRC+ against righties..
Kolten Wong -0.6 fWAR
Intended to platoon with Dylan Moore at second base, Wong has struggled to begin the season. Wong has been worth -0.6 WAR in his first 32 games with the Mariners and has managed a miniscule 44 wRC+ against right handed pitching this year.
Sam Haggerty -0.3 fWAR
Filling in for the injured Dylan Moore to start the year, Haggerty has not been able to find any of the 2022 magic and has somehow been even worse than Wong. Haggerty has put up an even minisculer 26 wRC+ from the short side of the platoon in 20 AB.
*Haggerty and Wong have lost their combined job to rookie sensation Jose Caballero.
AJ Pollock -0.3 fWAR
Coming off of a down year with the White Sox, Pollock was still expected to put up solid numbers against left handed pitching while protecting Kelenic from tough lefties. This has not happened. After crushing lefties for a 161 wRC+ in 2022 (126 AB), Pollock has posted a wRC+ of -11.In 36 AB against left handed pitching, Pollock only has 3 (!) hits. Surprisingly, Pollock is hitting same-handed pitching well for a 115 wRC+ in 40 AB.
Jarred Kelenic 1.2 fWAR
Kelenic is finally breaking out in 2023 and has shown an ability to handle same-handed pitching. In 38 at-bats, he has put up a 158 wRC+ against LHP, while hitting RHP as well (136 wRC+ in 119 at-bats).
- I realized after writing this that I may have confused ABs and PAs in some spots.
- I’m sure I probably missed some guys or included some that didn’t quite fit the criteria.
- Let’s all appreciate Guti