Four runs a game!  Or more!

Last year, the Mariners scored 3.95 runs per game. The rest of the league scored 4.89. Unless Safeco grew a hundred feet in every direction and the Mariners spotted their opponents five extra outfielders, that ain’t just a park effect. Obviously, something had to be done.

Fortunately, you didn’t have to look far to find room for improvement in the Seattle offense. Mariners left fielders and third basemen were among the worst offensive performers in baseball at their respective positions, and with Chone Figgins and now Milton Bradley, Seattle has addressed those two problems.

It’s too soon to write a full analysis of where the Mariners stand going into 2010; at the very least, they’ll sign a first baseman. But in the meantime, let’s see how far the offense has moved toward respectability.

Using CHONE projections and the Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis tool, we can estimate the Mariners run production. It doesn’t seem quite fair to do the calculation with Mike Carp at first base and Ken Griffey DHing, so I ran it with Ryan Garko at first (.343 OBP/.438 SLG) and Mike Sweeney at DH (.313/.409). The M’s could do better with the last spot; they might even get more simply by handing the job to Michael Saunders.

Here’s a plausible lineup, along with CHONE-projected OBP and SLG:

1. Ichiro (.340/.402)
2. Chone (.367/.352)
3. Garko (.343/.438)
4. Bradley (.381/.459) [projected for Wrigley]
5. Lopez (.314/.442)
6. Gutierrez (.325/.418)
7. Sweeney (.313/.409)
8. Johnson (.303/.350)
9. Wilson (.299/.359)

The Lineup Analysis tool says that’s a 4.6 run-per-game lineup.

Last year, the M’s gave up 4.27 runs per game, largely due to their stellar defense. While the defense may not be as good (Gutierrez can’t possibly be so good again–can he?–and Adrian Beltre isn’t likely to be back), the pitching will probably improve more than enough to counteract that with the addition of Cliff Lee.

Watching him in Milwaukee, I always knew Jack Zduriencik was good, but did anybody know he’d be this good?

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Matt S
Matt S

While putting Bradley in LF will hurt the defense, Figgins is pretty much equal to Beltre at 3B. Unless they downgrade significantly at 1B, I would expect little drop off from last season on defense beyond Bradley. With Lee and Hernandez at the top of the rotation I think the M’s will be a very real contender in ‘10.