Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/16/14
Improvements a must For many people, they believe in ridiculous superstitions about winter that entail watching to see if a groundhog sees its own shadow or not. For me however, I know spring hasn’t really arrived until I have Mariners baseball back on my radio. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy winter. Well not the cold, or the snow, or the long dreary days of darkness, but I do like hearing about the Mariners off season moves. I consider being a Mariners fan to be the ultimate way to succeed in fantasy baseball. After all the Mariners always draft the best sleepers, and fans know as soon as these players leave the northwest that they will have legendary seasons. Chone Figgins is looking like a pretty sweet pick up in the fantasy draft this year. Am I right? Ok, so I have to kid in order to maintain my spirits a bit. Brendan Ryan needs to creep his BA up to about .250 in 2013 (Photo: CBS Sports) I will watch the team in spring training and if they are doing well or not, I will play the scenario in my head about the team walking away with the world series trophy. But for now I can say that I am willing to give up on the playoffs if I can just see the Mariners win 80 games. Of course they haven’t done that since 2009 when they won 85 and it looked like the rebuilding phase was finally over. Boy were we all wrong. In order to hit 80 wins, which is a mere 5 game improvement from last season, here are the 5 guys that need to make just one key statistical improvement. Brendan Ryan + .050 batting average points Ryan is by far the best shortstop in baseball, but he struggles at the plate. I don’t know if he needs glasses or if he needs to stop liking his jersey, but whatever the superstition dictates he just needs to hit the damn ball. Last Season, Ryan hit .194 and struck out 98 times out of his 407 at bats. If he can get on base, Ryan has a very good base running ability with decent enough speed for a bottom of the line up hitter. If wishes were batting average points I would wish Brendan Ryan to hit .250. I know he can do it. Believe it or not he hit .292 for Saint Louis in 2009. I won’t hold him up to that standard, but if could even get up to his career average of .244 that would be cause for celebration. Dustin Ackley 20 Extra Triples In 2011 Dustin Ackley hit 7 three baggers in only 90 at bats. That means he was hitting triples at a pace of one in 13 at bats. Assuming he could get back on that pace in a full season (500 at bats) he could potentially hit 38 triples for the year. Of course that would break the record of 36 triples in a single season set by Chief Wilson in 1912. This past season Ackley was a workhorse for the M’s racking up 607 at bats playing through a bone spur but he only hit 2 triples all season. The real key with Ackley is his ability to be an offensive threat. Single base hits are nice but they don’t bring home the bacon. I’m not just making this crap up. I think he is capable of at least 20 more triples and 20 more stolen bases this year. In 2010 Ackley was rated the best hitter for average and fastest base runner in the Mariners system, and that was while both Ichiro and Figgins were on the roster. 20 extra triples should be worth more than one win, but I’ll take the one for now. Hector Noesi .013 Reduction in left-handed opponents batting average What I really hope more than anything from Noesi is consistency. Although he will never be the elite level player that Michael Pineda was thought of as being, he showed some potential in a few of his outings. Noesi ended up with a 2-12 record for the Mariners in 2012, so the obvious statistical improvement would be wins, but what would it take for him to achieve that? I think it would be as simple as learning how to pitch better to left handed batters. This past season Noesi’s opponents .266 (.253 from the right and .278 from the left). To left handed batters he allowed more hits, doubles, home runs and walks. Those are significant enough numbers to warrant concern, especially now that the Mariners starting rotation is in question. Bill James is predicting Noesi will still get 170+ innings for the M’s. The jury is out. Justin Smoak If Smoak can add 11 more HR’s his value might just be worth it (Photo: KOMO News) 11 More Home Runs This one is so obvious I almost didn’t want to mention it but Justin Smoak has to make the Cliff Lee trade worth it in some way. Justin Smoak is a power hitter. He is supposed to hit home runs. Smoak hit 19 in 2012, which was only sadly one shy of the team lead. As a switch hitter he hit 12 of those from the left hand side of the plate and 7 from the right. If Smoak could get up to 30 home runs this season than I think he’s worth his weight in gold. Or would he? At 225 pounds, his weight value in gold would be about 6 million dollars. More than I would pay, but the Mariners might consider it if he can show he can do it. 11 more home runs would win at least one more game, especially if Ackley gets those triples. Mike Carp 400 more At-Bats Carp didn’t really suck this year, he just never had a chance to play as he spent the bulk of his time on the disabled list. Carp has shown in the past to be effective against left handed pitching, and has a consistent swing. That is something that you can show off if you never play. However, Carp has shown that he is not really a viable option in left field and there is a log jam at first with the pick up of Kendrys Morales. (Not to mention Justin Smoak, John Jaso, Jesus Montero, and Raul Ibanez – all of whom we have been told to expect playing time at first.) Oh yeah, I forgot Ackley is a natural first baseman as well. Another problem for Carp is that he is out of minor league options so he will either make the 25 man roster or be on his way to waiver land. If Carp would get 400 at bats on top of his 164 from 2012, fans could have at least one more win to cheer about. There you have it, my statistical approach to improving the M’s by a minimum of 5 games. Hope you enjoyed it. Hope I get some right. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE SEATTLE MARINERS CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB!
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