TDG’S Triple Play: Seattle Mariners!
The Triple Play is back for a sixth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Phil Barrington and he is joined by a rotating panel of some of the best Dynasty Baseball writers in the business. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
This week I (@barrington_phil) am joined by Ryan Epperson (@ppenayr) and Sam Wirsching (@SamFBB1), follow us on Twitter and send us any questions, feedback, disagreements, what have yous, in the comments.
Teoscar Hernández, Age: 30, Position: OF
Analysis by: Phil Barrington
The two-time Silver Slugger winner, born in Cotui, Dominican Republic, was signed in 2011 by the Astros. The 6’2,” right-handed, Hernández climbed up the minor league ladder for five years, finally reaching the majors in 2016. Then, a deadline trade sent Hernández and fellow Outfielder Nori Aoki to the Blue Jays for pitcher Francisco Liriano. Lucky Liriano pitched only 16.3 innings the rest of the season, and 2.1 innings in playoffs, for the Champion Astros to get a ring.
Hernández thrived in Toronto, averaging more than 25 homers a season and slashing a respectable .263/.321/.499 in his five and a half seasons north of the border. Flash forward to November 16th, 2022, and Hernández was on the move again, this time to Seattle, for pitchers Erik Swanson and Adam Marko as the Jays did not expect to resign him and looked to capitalize.
Not everything has been smooth, thus far, in the Emerald City, as Hernández is the current league leader in strikeouts by a hitter. Teoscar also is not walking at all, taking all of two, in 117 ABs this season. Over his career, his worst month, take a guess (and it’s not April) is May; maybe it’s the cold(er) weather, who knows? But a career .231 average with only 12 home runs in May does not bode well for the next few weeks. He’s actually done better at home (.237 average in 59 ABs) this season than away (58 ABs), if we thought of that as part of the problem (and it could be).
A free agent after the season, his statcast page also has a lot of red; though the deep-sea blues around his walk and K rates cannot be discounted, a return to normalcy and a slightly lighter shade should be expected, as Hernández typically heats up as the season goes on.
The Mariners have not played in any warm weather city since the beginning of the season. That is quite odd, and I think we need to take a breath when it comes to the power guys in the Mariners lineup, Ty France, Julio, Suarez, who are all slumping (seems like everyone but Kelenic). Furthermore, some power guys take longer to get used to playing home games in Seattle, so there may be a near-perfect storm has been brewing around Hernández, and it may not lift soon. The Mariners go to Oakland until Thursday, then home for six, followed by trips to Detroit and Boston; that is more cold weather ahead.
I roster the Mariners’ Right-fielder in a few Dynasty Leagues and I haven’t put him on the block as the time to trade him (if you were so inclined) would have been before the season, after the (real life) trade. A hold for now, and still in the middle of his prime years, a final line of 30+ home runs with 170 RBI + R is still well within reach. The seven home runs hit in April at least provide more than we should expect, and maybe it’s just the optimist in me, or have I convinced us (me) that he’s a buy low? Toward the end of the month? Definitely, that’s on the table, like some of Aunt Pearl’s best jam.
Paul Sewald, Age: 32, Position: RP
Analysis by: Ryan Epperson
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
On the surface, Sewald shouldn’t be as successful as he has been. He has thrown only a low 90’s fastball and a sweeper the past two years, and yet his strikeout percentage currently sits at 34 percent with a .85 WHIP. Seriously, how is he doing this and continuing to stave off a younger and much better reliever in Andrés Muñoz from being the primary closer apart from business decisions by the suits in the front office of the Mariners.
Well gentlemen and gentle ladies we are here to find out the answer.
“If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.”
Pitch modeling is the brave new world in analytics and if you aren’t familiar with it there are far more brilliant people than I that can explain it thoroughly. But the TL;DR version is that the modeling takes all the types of pitches thrown and tracks movement, shape, location, etc., and the outcome of the pitch and assigns a value to it based on all of those factors. As the kids would say, it’s really neat stuff (these hypothetical kids are from the 1950s and have cigarette packs rolled into their white T-shirt sleeves).
Back to Paul and the fact that even though his fastball comes in a tick under 95mph it has a 132 Fastball+ value (the pitch modeling stuff) that has him ranked tenth in the league, that`s better than Gerrit Cole! Let’s not forget about his glorious, glorious, sweeper either. That pitch? It clocks in at a Slider+ value of 131, ranking in the top 30.
So, we throw those two pitches into a pot, along with location data (another subset of pitch modeling) and a bit of Pixie Dust, and out pops a Pitching+ of 109 which ranks him in the top 25 overall for pitchers.
“All are keeping a sharp look-out in front, but none suspects that the danger may be creeping up from behind.”
Preseason, most sites had him in the bottom half of their ranks for closers mostly since Muñoz is just waiting there to take his job, injuries aside. Muñoz should be back soon, but I think you will continue to see Sewald garner a majority of the save chances and for Muñoz to be the fireman in that bullpen (he will still get his fair share of saves also.) He has racked up seven saves already with the Mariners playing so-so ball. If they start reaching their potential, I believe he can challenge for 30 saves with a sparkling WHIP (.85 so far) and a sterling K-BB% around 25%.
All he needs is a little faith, trust, and Pixie dust.
Gabriel Gonzalez, Age: 19, Position: OF, Level: Low A (Modesto)
Analysis by: Sam Wirsching
I had a hard time deciding on who to look into with these Seattle Mariners. In spite of Gilbert, Kirby, and Brash all advancing there was a ton of pitching to still consider with Bryce Miller (just called up!), Bryan Woo, Prelander Berroa, Taylor Dollard, and Emerson Hancock. I decided I wanted to look into a hitter, and they have a ton to choose from there in spite of all of the graduations from their system, there were at least a half a dozen must roster prospects there as well lead by 2023 darling Jonatan Clase…but I glowingly featured him last year. That said, Clase is my type of hype. I believe big things come in small packages, and so I am going with an outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez.
Big G Little g What begins with G???
Gabriel Gonzalez going gaga over grandstanding greatness…sounds Suessian and Gabriel taps into that, being more than he appears. Listed at 5’10″/165lbs Gonzalez makes so much goodness happen on the field. Signed out of Venezuela in 2021 Gabriel played that season in the Dominican Summer League making the best of time hitting .287/.371/.521 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases. in 2022 he started the season in the Arizona Complex league and after 35 games again demonstrated he was ready for the next level and ended the season in Low A Modesto. He initially struggled but ended the season well enough to pull his OPS to .789.
G-Unit rapping out the hits
A lifetime .314 hitter in the minors, Gabriel is hitting .368 this season with two steals. He hasn’t hit a home run yet this young season he is slugging .562 with eight extra base hits out of 21 total hits…in only 14 games. Gabriel is making regular hard contact and it is only a matter of time before he starts climbing those charts too. His swing is simple, quick through the zone, and seems to have laser guidance to the ball. His ability to hit for power without giving up contact is only going to continue to age and grow into his body.
You don’t spell Gabriel Gonzalez with a K
To be fair he does strike out, but it doesn’t happen often. In his 575 PA over three levels Gonzalez has under a 15%K rate. Just unfair. Gabriel does this with a 8% walk rate and for me it shows that he isn’t too patient and can hit any mistake and most good pitches in the zone and won’t swing when they are outside of it.
Any last thoughts on the next prospect you should be trading for?
This kid is legit. He can play defense at all three outfield positions, but I think he ultimately will end up in one of the corner spots. He makes great, hard contact regularly and has some speed on his side. On the diamond you know he is one of the best players playing that day and takes that swag with him into the batters box and on the field. I expect to see him potentially at the end of 2024 and possibly competing for spot as early as 2025. And that’s relevant real deal Holyfield. (Shout out to Snoop d-o double G)