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11/19/1986 (30 y, 3 m, 8 d)
2004 June Amateur Draft - Round: 11, Pick: 22, Overall: 333, Team: Seattle Mariners
$9M / 1 Years (2017) + 1 Option Years
Saunders said Thursday that he will not play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports. (2/16/2017)
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(Click Year to Expand /
Coming into the 2011 season, Michael Saunders has the inside track -- and perhaps the only track -- on the starting gig in left field for the Mariners. After a profoundly disappointing debut in 2009, Saunders got a half season with the team last year and, though his batting numbers improved, they are still unworthy of your attention as a fantasy player. Saunders has some pop and Safeco doesn’t destroy left-handed home-run power, so he could blossom into a 20-25 home run threat over a full season of time. While Saunders was a stolen-base threat in the low minors, that portion of his game hasn’t transferred yet to the big leagues. He as the innate speed for it so it’s still a possibility that he could develop into a player that swipes 20 or so bases a season. His contact issues are pervasive enough that his batting average will remain low even if he holds down the starting job, so Saunders is overall a poor bet to be anything more than a fantasy fifth outfielder for the time being. In a deep AL-only league and keeper leagues, he might have some speculative value based on his power potential. (Matthew Carruth)
The Quick Opinion:
A young fourth outfielder thrust into a starting role means he will get at-bats but is unlikely to do anything good with them. He might hurt your team more than he will help it.
Set the minimum plate appearances to 150 and you'll find that Saunders was the worst hitter in baseball last year, worse than Jeff Mathis and Chone Figgins and any full season Mario Mendoza ever played. It's been 635 plate appearances now for the Condor's career, and it just doesn't look like it's going to happen; the plate discipline and power he flashed in his early years never developed further. One year, he had decent batted ball luck and no power, speed or contact. The next year, he made more contact and showed good patience, with league-average power, but his batted ball luck disappeared. Last year, he had no power, patience or contact ability. He's a Mariner, so there always a chance he might find some plate appearances, and he's still young enough (25) and good enough at defense to buy a little more time to figure things out. Unfortunately, there may just be too many things to figure out in this case. (Patrick Dubuque)
The Quick Opinion:
Saunders is a Mariner, so there always a chance he might find some plate appearances, and he's still young enough (25) and good enough at defense to buy a little more time to figure things out. Unfortunately, there may just be too many things to figure out in this case.
After three failed attempts at the major league level, Michael Saunders posted a career high slash line of .247/.306/.432 and managed to be generally useful in fantasy baseball by adding 19 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Saunders looked lost in virtually every at bat in 2011, but struggled particularly against anyone with a decent fastball. But perhaps due to a rumored "revamped swing," Saunders managed to post positive run values on four-seam and two-seam fastballs, not to mention the slider which had given him trouble in the past as well. Saunders also fixed a pretty ugly platoon split. Versus left-handed pitchers, Saunders had only managed a .143/.169/.161 slash line in 2011, but in 2012 he pushed the dial up to .261/.307/.467 -- actually hitting better against left-handers for the first time in his career. The important part is that he wasn't a black hole versus lefties, which might stave off the dreaded platoon label. If he can find regular at-bats, Saunders might be handy as a fourth or fifth outfielder for deeper rosters. He is still just 26, Seattle plans to move their fences in a skosh, and it's possible that he could even improve on his solid 2012 season. As a Mariner, certainly don't hold your breath though.
The Quick Opinion:
Michael Saunders had a downright horrific offensive season at the major league level in 2011 and turned that around to be pretty useful in fantasy baseball in 2012. At 26, it's possible he could improve upon the 19 home runs, 21 stolen bases and overall .247/.306/.432 slash line he posted last season, but it's also hard to ignore his past. He's above the "take a flyer on him" threshold, but just barely.
With the Seattle Mariners going for broke in 2014, one gets the sense is put up or shut up time for Michael Saunders. "The Condor," 27, has shown flashes of his potential in his career in Seattle, even sniffing a 20/20 season in 2012, his best campaign yet. He was hampered by injuries early in 2013, and if there's anything to take away from his underwhelming season, it is his second half split. A shoulder sprain set him back in April, and word is he played through pain for a considerable amount of time, impacting his swing. Perhaps healthy later in the summer, his second half slash line of .251/.350/.440 with 13 doubles and six home runs over 175 plate appearances is enough to raise a curious eyebrow. He was walking at almost a 13% clip and striking out less frequently going from 27% to a 23% strikeout rate. After improving his hitting versus left handed pitching in 2012, he badly regressed in 2013, managing just a .211/.293/.361 slash line and it's likely he finds himself in a platoon role for 2014. (
The Quick Opinion:
If Saunders could somehow manage to fix his platoon splits, he'd be an interesting flier in your draft for 2014. His second half of 2013 was actually a promising .251/.350/.440 but he's more likely to be cast in a platoon role going forward. Going into his age 27 season, there's potential for a breakout, so maybe a bench stash in a deep league is warranted. But don't put your first born on the table.
Michael Saunders gets a fresh start with the Toronto Blue Jays, who won't likely see him as just a platoon option the way the Seattle Mariners treated Saunders during his tenure there. Always seemingly dinged up, Saunders was (perhaps improperly) tagged with the "injury prone" label by his management and sent packing to his home country for J.A. Happ. In just 78 games in 2014, Saunders hit a very respectable .273/.341/.450, reducing his strikeout rate to 22% while maintaining a solid 10% walk rate. His power was there too -- a .177 isolated slugging percentage trumped his career .153 by a good margin, even if his counting stats didn't reflect much that would grab your attention in the small sample. He does possess pretty standard platoon splits, but his ability to rough up right-handed pitchers ought to keep him on the field enough to net 550 plate appearances. Of course, because of his injury history, he's only done that once in his career. But if he can avoid the trainers' table, it's entirely possible he finally realizes his potential at the age of 28 -- and that potential is probably something in the .260/.340/.465 range with 20+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases. Keep a pulse on how Toronto plans to use him, he could be a really valuable third or fourth outfielder in standard formats. (
The Quick Opinion:
The Seattle faithful shed a tear when the Mariners sent Michael Saunders packing, knowing the sweet swinging Condor might fulfill his potential elsewhere. Saunders has flashed his ability on many occasions, but his inability to stay healthy has always undercut his final line. With a change of scenery, Saunders could be poised for a big year.
Back in 2009 and 2010, Michael Saunders was a top 100 prospect said to have surprising athleticism for his size, good bat speed, potential for power growth, and the range and arm to cut it in center field. It took him a few years finally get established in Seattle, and he showed flashes of potential. However, injuries became a problem and his relationship with the front office soured. Saunders seemed primed for a new start in Toronto (and he was another one of the Toronto front office's "Returning Canadian Heros," to boot), but then stepped on a sprinkler in spring training. Yadda yadda yadda, Saunders got only 36 plate appearances in the majors during 2015. Contact has been an issue for Saunders, and when he really struggled with strikeouts his first three years in the majors his numbers accordingly suffered, as his other peripherals could not make up for it. However, even during this "prime," Saunders was mostly average at best. He is entering his age 29 season, and the .273/.341/.450 line he put up for the Mariners in 2014 should be on the upper end of expectations for Saunders. Indeed, even those pretty good numbers were in a small sample in an injury-shorted season (263 plate appearances). How much of his decline is reduced playing time, and how much is decline due to age and injury? The Blue Jays plan on having Saunders be their left fielder in 2015, and over a full season, he can reasonably be expected to put up something like .250/.330/.420 with maybe double digit steals and even 20 home runs. But the closest Saunders has ever come to playing a full season was 139 games. If he makes it through Spring Training and looks healthy, he is a starting outfielder in AL-only leagues, but don't pay as if he is going to give you a full season, and make sure to have a bench player that can make up the value if/when Saunders goes down. (Matt Klaassen)
The Quick Opinion:
Now 29, Michael Saunders' story is less about "how good he might be" than "he is probably about average if he can stay healthy." Average has very good value in decently competitive fantasy leagues, and though Saunders might shock the world by playing 140 games for the first time in his major league career, it is probably smarter to value him as if he is going to play 100.
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Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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