Team Previews in a Fantasy Nutshell: Seattle Mariners
Projected Starting Lineup
C Mike Zunino—I want to like Zunino because of his power, but his batting average can kill you. I might take a shot on him as my second catcher in deeper leagues with the hopes that he can hit .235 this season.
1B Dan Vogelbach—Make no mistake, this kid can hit. The Mariners are going to be smart with him, having him play primarily vs. RHP and playing Danny Valencia vs. LHP. The time will come, however, when Vogelbach will play against all types of pitching and when that does you can pencil him in for 30+ home runs per season.
2B Robinson Cano—Don’t cha know, it’s Robinson Cano! There’s nothing not to like about Cano, who just seems to mash each year. His power spiked big time in 2016 so I think it might be foolish to expect that to continue, but I think a season of 25/90 is possible for him.
SS Jean Segura—The Mariners gave up a lot to get Segura, but they wanted to increase their offensive speed. I am not sure that Segura will ever hit 20 home runs again, but he should steal a minimum of 30 bases in an offense that is committed to bringing havoc to the base paths.
3B Kyle Seager—I love Seager’s consistency. He can be counted on to hit about .270 to go with 25/90 and 90 runs scored. What I love most about him is that there is still some untapped power in his bat. This might just be the season he hits 30 home runs.
OF Jarrod Dyson—The Mariners traded for Dyson in the offseason, and it looks like he will be their leadoff hitter. With a new team comes a new opportunity to get 450+ at bats. If Dyson can hit close to .300, I think there is a real chance he could lead the AL in stolen bases.
OF Mitch Haniger—Haniger might be overlooked in drafts this year because he doesn’t do one thing very well, but he seems to be the jack of all trades. With health and a decent spot in the batting order, I think he could hit .280, get 15+ homers, 15+ stolen bases and play a solid outfield.
OF Leonys Martin—For years I was expecting Martin to break out and become a star Fantasy player, but he always seemed to disappoint. That said, I have changed my expectation for him. I now see him as a .260 hitter capable of hitting 10-15 home runs and stealing 20-25 bases. He normally drops to OF5 status in leagues nowadays which seems to be a very fair price for his ability.
DH Nelson Cruz—Like a fine wine Cruz is getting better with age. He hits in the heart of the Mariners order and is a virtual lock for 30/90. He is already tearing up the WBC in the spring. Playing DH helps him stay fresh too.
Util Danny Valencia—I don’t see a great reason to roster Valencia in seasonal league mainly because he is a platoon player who plays primarily vs. LHP, but I love using him in DFS.
SP Felix Hernandez—King Felix is only 30 years old, but it feels like he has the arm of a 45-year-old man. He has thrown a ton of innings over the course of his career, and I wonder when the bottom is going to begin to fall out for him. I can see myself passing on Hernandez in most of my drafts this year as I tend to look for guys with upside (Paxton or Smyly) over the aging veterans. King Felix might prove me wrong yet again, but I feel pretty comfortable with that plan of action right now.
SP James Paxton—Sometimes you can just see the breakout coming, and I feel that it is near for Paxton. Last year he took a big step up in that he finally stayed mostly healthy for the season, getting 20 starts along the way. Now Paxton needs to take the next step by pitching closer to 180 innings and showing that he can continue to strike out one batter per inning. I don’t foresee a stellar ERA or WHIP for Paxton, but I can see him getting double digit wins for sure this season.
SP Hisashi Iwakuma—I have always felt that Japanese pitchers become more hittable the longer they remain in the major leagues. Iwakuma was at his best in 2012 and 2013 and since then has shown a steady decline across the board with his numbers. I cannot imagine having him on any of my teams this season.
SP Drew Smyly—Smyly came over in a deal with the Rays and should find himself in a better spot. He is surrounded by a better offense, a good bullpen, and a park that should help him avoid the long ball. A lot of my fellow experts are riding the Smyly hype train this season, and I can see why. He is at the right age for a breakout.
SP Yovani Gallardo—I have zero interest in Gallardo in any format.
Closer Edwin Diaz—I love this fireballing young closer. At the mere age of 21, he came onto the scene last year and showed that he deserved to be finishing games for the M’s. He struck out 88 batters in 51 IP and I think can do even better this season. Watch for him to end up as a top-five closer.