Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 10/21/14
A winning season from these guys would be a fantasy… It’s that time of year, folks. Fantasy baseball season is upon us. All the fantasy freaks are frothing at the mouth to pre-rank their teams and find out what position they draft in. Being a Seattle Mariners fan, I always look at the roster and see who has the best prospects of actually helping you put together a competitive fantasy team.
Recently, the words “Mariners” and “competitive” don’t go together unless you were to say, “There is no way in hell the Mariners will be competitive this week/month/season.”
That might change this year with a new crop of young guys coming in to go with the already young up and comers in the Mariners lineup. So who do you draft come draft day? Sure you could draft Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder (too early?) to your fantasy team and wreak havoc on your league. The Mariners, though, are where it’s at. You can draft guys you actually like and who will keep you in the game. We like to hope so, at least. You can’t go wrong with these guys. The Sure Thing(s) Felix Hernandez Felix Hernandez is a strikeout master. The Mariners ace is averaging 202 strikeouts per year in the last 5 seasons including 200+ strikeouts the last 3 seasons. His control is on point as he has not given up many walks in each season he has taken part in. His win/loss record has been hovering around .500 the last 2 seasons after his 19-5 season 3 years ago. If he had a little more run support last season, his 14-14 record would’ve looked more like 20-8. You really can’t go wrong with Felix despite the win-loss record he will end up with. Especially if you’re looking for strikeouts on your team, King Felix is the way to go. Ichiro Suzuki Smoak is poised for a big comeback Yes, I know Ichiro Suzuki‘s numbers have decline the last 2 seasons. But I’ll tell you what…he is good for a minimum of 180 hits still after not reaching the 200 hit milestone for the first last year since he has been in a Mariners uniform. He’s still good for 80+ runs. He’s still good for 35+ stolen bases. He will be good for a .300 average this year, I can feel it. With the new lineup changes that will have Ichiro batting 3rd, he will have many more opportunities to cash in and produce some RBI’s this season as opposed to his lopsided runs numbers. Ichiro may have lost a step or two, but he hasn’t lost “it” yet. He’s still good enough to start in your outfield. Worth the Risk Justin Smoak Justin Smoak had an off year last year with his personal issues and injury. He still managed to put up 15 home runs and 55 RBI’s in the process. With a healthy, intuitive Smoak in the lineup, the Mariners are poised for more production out of the guy. Not to mention he has been touted as the best shape of his life. Usually this hype is just smoke being blown our way, but this year it seems legit for a change. I honestly believe Smoak will come close to the 100 RBI plateau this season as well as hit at least 30 home runs. Dustin Ackley Dustin Ackley played in his first season in a Mariners uniform last year, finally getting the call to the big leagues. He played in 90 games, or roughly half the season. He started off hot, declined and picked it back up when it was too late. He still manager 91 hits, 6 home runs, 36 RBI’s and a .273 average. All those numbers are only going to improve and with the tweaked lineup this season, he is going to have a lot of chances to put up big numbers. Ackely’s first full season as a Mariner looks promising. He will have the chances to succeed and I personally think he’s going to make the most of those opportunities. Carp is going to put up big numbers if he plays full-time Mike Carp Mike Carp only played in 79 games for the Mariners last season. He still managed to put up 80 hits, 12 home runs, 46 RBI’sand a .276 average. Those are promising numbers for a young stud like Carp. The Mariners and their fan base are in love with the guy…how could they not be? In just those 79 games, he showed flashes of power the Mariners haven’t seen in years. The only question is who makes the roster, because there is going to be lots of choices for Left Field and DH, the two primary spots we see Carp in. Bench-Worthy Sleepers Franklin Gutierrez Franklin Gutierrez was another guy who struggled with personal issues last season that detracted him from performing like his usual self. He had a stomach illness that wasn’t even caught until a month into the season and he lost lots of weight waiting out the sickness. It really took him out of the game and hurt his game. This year, he is said to have gained 20 pounds of muscle and is literally in the best shape of his life. The cliche comes up again, but anyone who matters covering the Mariners spring training camp will agree. This brings lots of promise to a Mariners team severely lacking power or anything close to it. If Guti can go back to his normal self, he is going to help make the middle of the Mariners lineup just flat out dangerous. Gutierrez is ready to make a comeback after last year's setbacks Jesus Montero Jesus Montero got very little opportunity in the majors for the Yankees, but remained one of the top prospects in all of baseball when he was in their minor league system. His primary position is catcher, but he could wind up solely at DH, where the talent he possesses can shine through to its full potential. Without the wear and tear from behind the plate (or with it if he becomes the everyday catcher) he could focus on hitting and be as dangerous a hitter as, say, Edgar Martinez. That’s a stretch, I know, but Edgar himself said he would take Montero under his wing and teach him what he needs to know. His potential power could be an added pop to this young Mariners lineup. Brandon League Brandon League is an enigma. His success depends solely on the offense, which is a scary thought for any Mariner and fan alike. He cannot close games out if there are no opportunities to do so. The other thing weighing in here is whether he will stay a Mariner or not. Rumors have been flying since the trade deadline last season that the Mariners could get good value for League and ship him somewhere that would offer a sweet deal to the Mariners.
His numbers don’t like, though, and if given the chances, he could easily be a top closer in not only the American League, but in Major League Baseball.
His 37 saves last season were mind blowing considering it didn’t even seem like the Mariners won 37 games all season long. There you have it, folks. A surefire win for your fantasy baseball team is laid out clearly for you. Just make sure you mention me in your acceptance speech. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE SEATTLE MARINERS CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB! © Brandon Choate for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment | Follow NWSB on Twitter or join US on Facebook for real-time updates OR... | Share This on Twitter | Share NWSportsBeat.com on Facebook Post tags: Brandon League, Dustin Ackley, fantasy baseball, Fantasy Baseball Picks, Fantasy Baseball Predictions, Fantasy baseball sleepers, Fantasy picks, Fantasy sleepers, Felix Hernandez, Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro Suzuki, Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak, Major League Baseball, Mariners, Mariners blog, Mike Carp, MLB fantasy, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Mariners Blog
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