2015 Seattle Mariners Team Preview: Fantasy 30 For 30

By on February 17, 2015
SEA-Cano-Keith-Allison

Before we get into the 2015 Seattle Mariners, let’s look back to last season. The 2014 Seattle Mariners finished last season with an I-guess-I-forgot-they-were-that-good 87-75 record, helped along by the American League’s fourth-best run differential (+80).

Surprisingly strong performances from Chris Young (3.65 ERA over 165 innings) and Roenis Elias (3.85 ERA over 163 2/3 innings) had the Mariners giving up 554 total runs in 2014 — the fewest in the majors. And with future stars James Paxton and Taijuan Walker poised to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 combined innings pitched, this staff could possibly improve in 2015.

So we turn to the bats.

The Mariners scored the fourth-fewest runs in the American League last year. Just two players hit over 20 home runs (Mike Zunino hit 22; Kyle Seager hit 25), only one stole more than 20 bases (James Jones stole 27), and Robinson Cano was the sole Mariner who hit above .300 (.314), scored more than 75 runs (77), and managed over 30 doubles (37). This was a team bereft of Fantasy value, and General Manager Jack Zduriencik made a handful of moves to try and address these shortcomings.

2015 Seattle Mariners Team Preview

Going back to the 2014 trade deadline, the Mariners added Austin Jackson, Seth Smith, Nelson Cruz, Rickie Weeks, and Justin Ruggiano. Cruz led the majors in home runs last season (40), Smith has never gotten 500 at-bats in a season, but has double-digit home runs in five of his last six. Weeks and Ruggiano have that tantalizing power potential — Ruggiano hit 18 home runs in 2013, the only season in which he had more than 300 at-bats in his career, and Weeks, for all his recent failings, still has 20 or more home runs in three of his last five seasons.

SAFECO is still a cavernous, daunting home stadium, so the additions won’t change things overnight.. but they will help.

Projected 2015 Seattle Mariners Lineup

  1. CF Austin Jackson
  2. LF Dustin Ackley
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. DH Nelson Cruz
  5. 1B Logan Morrison
  6. 3B Kyle Seager
  7. C Mike Zunino
  8. RF Seth Smith
  9. SS Brad Miller

Projected Mariners Pitching Staff

Starting Rotation
  1. RHP Felix Hernandez
  2. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
  3. LHP James Paxton
  4. RHP Taijuan Walker
  5. LHP Roenis Elias
Projected Bullpen
  • RHP Fernando Rodney (closer)
  • RHP Yoervis Medina
  • RHP Danny Farquhar (setup)

Probable American League Sophomore of the Year

Taijuan Walker has been ranked as a top 20 prospect by Baseball America in recent years. The 22-year old compiled a 3.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with a 9.7 K/9 over 453 2/3 minor league innings pitched.

He battled shoulder issues throughout 2014, which may have contributed to the 4.39 ERA in 16 PCL starts last year — and followed that up with a myterious exit from the AFL this autumn — but the talent is real. And his current NFBC ADP of 256 places him in the perfect spot for a Draft Day steal, even if he starts the year in the minors and only gets about 150 IP. Don’t bail early if that happens!

Insane Series of Events That Could Actually Happen

Jesus Montero hits .390 with seven spring home runs. Dustin Ackley/Seth Smith/Logan Morrison run into some brand of injury/slump/trade. Jesus Montero is named the starting first baseman/DH, hits .280 with 23 home runs on the season, and is named 2015 Comeback Player of the Year.

The evidence: Montero is just 25 years old. Baseball America named him the fourth (in 2010), third (2011), and sixth (2012) best prospect in all of baseball for three straight years. Montero had a bit of a bounceback campaign in 2014, hitting .286 with 16 home runs in just 364 at-bats, and he showed promise in 2012 with the Mariners, with a .260 average and 15 home runs. Montero ran into some embarrassing PED issues, and had the great indignity of having ice cream delivered to him last season during a game, but he could be a surprising element on a Mariners squad that — despite all the offensive improvements — could use all the pop it can get.

The Catcher More People Should Love

2015 Team Previews: AL West

Mike Zunino may have hit the quietest 22 home runs in the majors last year. The 23-year-old paired the power with a .199 average and .254 OBP, striking out 158 times over 438 at-bats. He had a .248 BABIP, suggesting Zunino may have a chance at normalization to the league average, which could bring his average up to maybe .230/.240-ish.

Bolstering the case for Zunino is his .336 average over 241 at-bats across three minor league levels in 2012 (and, for what it’s worth, a .327 average over three college seasons). There’s considerable risk here, but Zunino has power — and, maybe more importantly, sustained the power at home, where he it 10 of his 22 home runs. You won’t have to pay a ton for him, you’ll just have to pad some other spots on your team with batting average help.

What Should We Know About the 2015 Seattle Mariners?

The team with the second-best ERA in the majors may actually improve in the category this season. And while the offense had some nice additions, there’s considerable risk involved with nearly all of them — from Logan Morrison to Nelson Cruz to Rickie Weeks.

There’s more dependability than risk here, though, and with several Mariners in line for possible bouncebacks (coupled with low ADPs frm the non-believers), this is a roster filled with potential and upside for the imaginative, fearless Fantasy player.

Robinson Cano Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Nando Di Fino
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Nando Di Fino

Nando DiFino is the host of the Fantasy Funhouse every weekday at 9am eastern on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. He is the Executive Producer for the FNTSY Sports Network and has a big weenie.
Nando Di Fino
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