Seattle Mariners catchers, inluding Mike Zunino, are batting a league low .150 average.
Otto Gruele, Jr./Getty Images
By Liam McGuire
To say Seattle Mariners catchers have been “abysmal” is disrespectful to the word abysmal.
Just how bad have Mariners backstops been? The club’s collective catchers are batting .150. The Mets (.176), Reds (.174), Giants (.165) and Nationals (.160) pitching staffs (> 100+ plate appearances) all have better averages at the plate. That’s horrendous.
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Seattle hoped 24-year-old Mike Zunino would take the next step this year, after hitting 22 home runs in 2014 – an impressive number, but when you consider he hit below the Mendoza Line and had an atrocious .254 OBP, it’s not as nice. In 2015 he’s somehow regressed, seeing his average dip to .160 and OBP fall down to .223, and it’s not because he’s unlucky, he’s sporting a .223 BABIP. He’s shown healthy power with nine long bombs, and his defense remains very good, but nobody should be playing everyday if they’re hitting as badly as he is.
While Zunino’s seen the bulk of the work behind the plate, backup Jesus Sucre has somehow been worse. In 26 at bats this season Sucre has managed one hit, earning a .038 batting average – which is one of the lowest numbers I’ve ever seen. Batting below .050 shall now be known as The Sucre Line.
Now the team finally got some help when they traded a decent reliever in Yoervis Medina to the Chicago Cubs for veteran Welington Castillo. Castillo had regular experience as a decent starting catcher with the Cubs and was thought to provide some stability for the Mariners behind the plate.
His tenure with Seattle last six games as the Mariners traded him to the Diamondbacks in the Mark Trumbo deal.
The kicker is Castillo has been dynamite for the Diamondbacks. In 25 games, he’s hit five home runs (three more than Trumbo) with 15 RBIs while batting .286 with a .368 OBP. The Mariners could sure use that kind of production.
Seattle is 41-48 (7.5 GB), good for 4th in the American League West. If the club wants to turn things around post All-Star break, than they need to upgrade at the position or hope that Zunino magically turns things around. The latter, despite Zunino’s potential, is not likely.
Jon Morosi reported yesterday the Mariners were close to acquiring a catcher. So who would make sense?
One of the long-rumored players is Cleveland Indians catcher Roberto Perez. With Yan Gomes dealing with injuries all season, Perez has started a bulk of the games behind the plate for the Indians. His numbers haven’t been bad, he’s carried over his low batting average, high OBP trait that followed him in the minors posting a not so good .236 AVG with a very good .345 OBP. At 26-years-old, he’s young enough to be considered a part of the future, and likely could be had at a decent price. He would (somewhat sadly) be a major upgrade over what the Mariners currently have.
Perhaps the most cheap and available option would be Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Morosi said the two teams were talking, but he wasn’t the catcher he was referring to. Either way, with the Braves always willing to sell, the backstop could be had at a low-cost. Despite approaching 40 years old, Pierzynski is batting .283 with six home runs. That’s not amazing, those are Babe Ruthian numbers compared to M’s catchers.
The club desperately needs catching help, and if the position isn’t addressed, the Mariners season is only going to get much worse before it gets better, which seems impossible. God help them.