Shortstops in Seattle

With Brendan Ryan hitting a sultry .149 at the dish, there’s going to be an opening for a new shortstop in the Seattle Mariners’ lineup. There are a few different options to be explored, and since finding shortstops in deeper fantasy leagues is a royal pain, let’s take a look, shall we?

The first option is a player currently on the major league roster, and that player is Munenori Kawasaki. The Mariners brought Kawasaki over from Japan this offseason, and he has been serving as the backup to Ryan early in the year. Kawasaki is pretty much what you’d expect from a Japanese import playing in the middle infield. He doesn’t have much power to speak of, and his best tool will be his ability to make contact and maintain a respectable batting average. In Kawasaki’s case, it’s hard to see him hitting above .270, but if he can simply hit .250 while playing everyday and stealing a handful of bases every month, that’d be good enough for deeper AL-only leagues.

The second option is one of the Mariners’ top prospects, and that player is Nick Franklin. Franklin is a switch-hitter measuring in at about 6’1”, and he is likely best known for his 2010 campaign in which he hit 23 dingers and stole 25 bases in Single-A. Franklin hasn’t carried the home run power over with him, but he’s still a great doubles hitter. At 21-years-old and in Double-A, Franklin has cut down on his strikeouts while maintaining his gap power. The Mariners aren’t going to rush him to the bigs just because Ryan can’t hit, but there’s a good chance he’ll be moved up to Triple-A soon enough and see big league action by the end of the year.

The third option is the least likely to happen, but it involves Kyle Seager sliding over and playing shortstop. The Mariners have played Seager at short in the past, and should they feel like Alex Liddi deserves a chance at third base on a more than platoon basis, they could opt to travel down this road. Seager would be a very good fantasy option at short, and he is already eligible there in Yahoo! leagues. If Seager played even ten games at short, it would preserve his eligibility in Yahoo! leagues next year, and 20 games would make him eligible in all formats. Everyone should be rooting for Seager to at least get a crack at shortstop again.

In the end, it’s likely that the solution is going to be a combination of all the above options. Brendan Ryan played Sunday against the left-handed Andy Pettitte, and there’s a good chance he’ll stay on that side of the platoon and the Mariners will turn to Kawasaki against righties. Franklin should be on everyone’s watch list, particularly in AL-only and deeper keeper leagues.




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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.


12 Responses to “Shortstops in Seattle”

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  1. Bookbook says:

    Or perhaps Triunfel will get some reps. Folks will be less worried about messing with his development or service time than with Franklin.

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  2. taprat says:

    I’m in Seattle, and I’m just not seeing anything happening anytime soon. Ryan is so good defensively – really, he is a truly incredible shortstop – that the downgrade would have a huge impact on Seattle’s pitchers. Also, there do not seem to be a lot of rumblings about him being replaced. Wedge truly seems to appreciate the value that Ryan’s defense brings, as does the local press, for the most part. And really, there is no better solution. Seager isn’t a SS, Franklin isn’t ready, Triunfel isn’t a shortstop, Kawasaki is just as bad of a hitter as Ryan… It isn’t going to happen.

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  3. Shawnuel says:

    I agree with taprat. I’m also in the Seattle area and I concur that Ryan’s “D” is too good to for anyone to make rash decisions because of his offensive “slump”. He showed a spark yesterday in his last AB against the Yankees. If he hits ..240-50 the remainder of the season, he is, easily, a league average SS, figuring in his defensive contribution. I’ll take that.

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  4. OlSalty says:

    I agree with the above comments. I think they have enough of an understanding of BABIP and place enough value on defense here in Seattle to not remove Ryan right now. He is probably the best defensive shortstop in the game right now, or at least one of the best.

    Mostly they won’t do it because Kawasaki is an awful, awful hitter as well and he’s the only real option to replace him right now. He didn’t hit in Japan, it’s very unlikely he’s serviceable in MLB with his bat. His glove, maybe, but not his bat. If you’re relying on Kawasaki as a fantasy option you must be in the craziest deep league ever because Alexi Cassilla or some other crap waiver wire SS would be better.

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  5. Stalk Cutter says:

    Having Brendan Ryan in the lineup is the equivalent of having 8 guys batting in the lineup. He is an automatic out. His defensive abilities DO NOT under any circumstances excuse his inability to hit and for the most part to even make contact. Not to mention he is a jokester, a goof off not dedicated to his craft.

    He had a bad reputation in St Louis and hasn’t disproven that here in Seattle. Multiple carpet calls into Wedge’s Office for his conduct at 30 years old is unacceptable.

    Here in Seattle were offense has been virtually non-existent. It amazes me that fans continue to hold onto the pitching and defense only mentality. The M’s offensive woes have at been at the top of the to-do list for much too long. Ryan only deepens that problem. It’s time to quit doing the same old thing and recalculate the formula.

    I have seen several that Franklin isn’t ready. Why isn’t he ready? Because people really don’t have a plausible explanation and just keep copying and pasting that comment? What constitutes ready? Nick Franklin is currently hitting 318/373/467/806 that looks a lot more ready than the 144/266/222/488 that Ryan is posting. Bring Franklin up, give him a month if it doesn’t work drop him back to triple A, that’s what they did with Seager.

    Let Ryan take his act somewhere else. St Louis did and they seem to be doing just fine “without his invaluable defense”

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    • philosofool says:

      Ryan has been .6 WAR in 6 weeks of play, so you are wrong.

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      • Stalk Cutter says:

        Wrong at what? 1 being greater than zero and that’s what he brings to the plate, ZERO0000..

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      • Clever Name says:

        Ryan is at 0.9 WAR right now, though 1.3 of that is from baserunning. So technically, the suggestion that his hitting does not make up for his defense is accurate. Kind of. If you don’t count baserunning.

        Why did I post?

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  6. Eric Dykstra says:

    As most of the above comments have stated, Ryan isn’t going anywhere. His BABIP won’t stay this low forever, and he’s such a plus plus glove, that he could hit like this all season and I wouldn’t care.

    Even with the pathetic BABIP, his OBP is higher than Olivo, Figgins, Smoak, and Carp. There are a lot of problems in Seattle, and SS is not in the top 5.

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  7. joser says:

    Seager is just a couple of starts at 2B away from eligibility at that position in Yahoo also, and he’ll probably get those by the end of the month.

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  8. Stalk Cutter says:

    Slump?

    The bottom has dropped out of his weak game. At 30 in his final year of his contract. We’ll see how long the tolerant M’s are as his production continues to slide.

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  9. Jaik Jarrkjens says:

    I hope the Mariners release him, and I hope the Braves subsequently swoop in and claim him. The Braves could very much use his D.

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