The Seattle Mariners will enter Friday with a losing record (30-31) and in fourth place in the American League West. Their seasonal run differential dropped into the red this week after a miserable start to June that has seen them get outscored by a combined 25 runs over their first five games.
It's fair to describe the Mariners as one of the majors' most disappointing teams -- to the extent that top executive Jerry Dipoto does not believe that adding Babe Ruth at the peak of his powers to the Seattle lineup would help. No, really. Dipoto said as much on Thursday during his weekly radio show on Seattle Sports. Here's the notable quotable, per the station: "And this is just being honest, we could go out and acquire prime Babe Ruth and it's not going to help us. We're not one player away or one magic spell from fixing this."
Obviously Dipoto is being somewhat facetious, but his broader point is fair: the Mariners don't have one or two holes in their lineup that could be patched with midseason trades. What they have is a group of hitters that so far this season have made underperforming the rule rather than the exception.
The Mariners rank 19th in runs scored and 22nd in wRC+, a catch-all metric hosted at FanGraphs that adjusts for ballpark among other variables. Look at their individual statistics, though, and you'll notice that only four of their top 10 plate-appearance recipients have an OPS+ over 100. For perspective, three of those remaining six are under 85.
It's hard to ignore that each of Dipoto's notable offseason additions to the lineup have underperformed. Second baseman Kolten Wong has been one of the worst hitters in the majors; AJ Pollock hasn't been a great deal better; and Opening Day designated hitter Tommy La Stella has already been released. Even Teoscar Hernández, a constantly above-average hitter the last five years, is on the wrong side of the 100 OPS+ threshold.
|Player||PA||'23 OPS+||'20-22 OPS+|
Tommy La Stella
To Dipoto's credit, he did take responsibility for what appears to be a misfire of an offseason: "I'm accountable for putting the players on the field that are underperforming. The players are accountable to upholding their approach, and that's all we ever ask of them is to uphold the approach."
Now, the question is whether or not the Mariners can fight their way out of the hole they've dug. And, if not, what Dipoto will do this winter to assure a better 2024 season.