The Mariners infield situation stabilized quite a bit when Cano signed the deal to take over at second base for the mess left there last season. The infield is generally set and decent except for the huge nested IF THEN ELSE situation at first base. I will start with the known and move to the unknown.
Kyle Seager is going to play third and should do a good job. He started all but four games at 3B in 2013. Two notes on Seager. In shallow leagues with large benches, an owner may want to platoon him another 3B since he has hit .236/.287/.381 vs lefties and .272/.345/.439 vs righties. An additional issue with Seager is teams began to shift him more in 2013’s second half and he experienced the effects. In the season’s first half, he hit into six shifts and had a .319 batting average on balls in play. In the second half, he hit into 28 shifts and his BABIP dropped to .245.
It is pretty much Brad Miller‘s job to lose. He has Nick Franklin and Willie Bloomquist as backups, so not much there to push him. Projections have him hitting around .270 with double digit home runs and stolen bases while playing above average defense. He will really have to struggle to lose his plate appearances.
One note on Miller, if you have the roster flexibility, you may not want to start him against lefties if you want any power. All eight of his 2013 home runs came off of right handed pitchers even though his AVG and OBP were almost identical from each side.
Well, the Jesus Montero experiment has finally ended. In 2014, Mike Zunino and John Buck will be the primary catchers for the Mariners. With the Mariners having more of a stake in Zunino’s future, I see him getting most of the catching opportunities. It really should not matter though. Here are the pair’s 2014 projections.
Why add their names and increase the embarrassment. The catcher position is going to hit around .220 with a total of 15 to 20 home runs.
What a mess. The key to this position is Corey Hart or more specifically, his knees. I expect Hart to move from DH to 1B to OF as he is physically able to. With Hart at DH, Justin Smoak will be given another chance to turn the corner and not try to hit like a catcher (.227/.314/.386 career stats). Once Hart becomes healthy, who knows. Will Smoak hit good enough to stay at 1B (doubtful)? Will Hart be healthy enough to play 1B (likely)? OF (maybe not)? Who will play 1B if Smoak or Hart can’t (Morrison probably)?
With the unknowns, I would go with a conservative playing time estimate for both Hart and Smoak. It would be tough for me to project more than 300 PA for each Hart or Smoak. I want to be on the conservative side going into the 2014 season. This is especially true in deep leagues where there may be few, if any, options available on the waiver wire. I would not want to pay for an entire season from either one and only get part of a season. Hart or Smoak should only be a part of a backup plan in 2014, not part of a main plan.