The Leader, The Life of the Party and more: The Mariners’ lineup defined

Apr 27, 2022, 11:39 AM | Updated: 12:08 pm
Mariners Winker Frazier...
Adam Frazier celebrates with Jesse Winker after scoring in the fourth inning of Tuesday's Mariners win over the Rays. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The Mariners have shown balance and an ability to win in a variety of ways during a hot start that had them atop the American League West nearly three weeks into the season. The biggest revelation from a year ago is run production from the lineup. What was often a liability a year ago has turned into a machine, churning out walks, baserunners and runs.

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We have heard from a myriad of players about how close the Mariners clubhouse is, the tight-knit bond that exists among everyone on the team. It is reflected in the joy of their celebrations and the big-inning rallies. This lineup has the perfect complement of parts, each guy adapting a different role which helps make any workplace or team thrive.

So pick your favorite analogy – movie, workplace, school, etc. – as we look at each member of the Mariners’ lineup as defined by some familiar character archetypes.

(Note: While there is no set batting order, this breakdown is based on the nine guys most commonly in the lineup.)

Adam Frazier – The Organizer

There is always that guy in group projects at work or school who ends up taking charge, setting the tone and making sure everyone else knows what they’re doing. Frazier, who reached base to start a game in five of the Mariners’ nine contest during their first homestand of the season, has proven to be the guy who outlines everything that needs to happen for the Mariners to be successful on a given day, providing the path for the rest of the team to follow.

Ty France – The Overachiever

France has so far set the standard for everyone else to aspire to reach. A four-hit game is great, but why not strive for a five-hit game? Not just leading the team in a few offensive categories – how about leading the American League in nearly everything over the past week? Oh, and let’s not forget he was more of a natural third baseman before 2021 began, was needed at first base and has proceeded to play it at a Gold Glove-caliber level ever since.

Jesse Winker – The Catalyst

Winker is always ready for a battle when he steps into the box against a pitcher. Whether it’s multiple 11-pitch plate appearances or his AL-leading walk number, Winker has become an aggravating force to face for an opponent. He also has been the source for some of the most honest and entertaining interviews of the season. Whether it was his attempted play-by-play of a Paul Sewald outing during spring training, his *ahem* memorable interview on Seattle Sports Station after the home opener (video below), or after his walkoff hit this past Sunday, Winker has sparked a rallying cry for this Mariners season and provided an emotional boost to the clubhouse.

Mitch Haniger – The Leader

The gravitas and core of the Mariners’ bond is centered around Haniger. As a veteran and long-tenured member of the Mariners amidst a young and new group of guys, Haniger is the standard bearer. His opening day home run set the pat, and his then-team high three homer before going on the injured list were the lead-by-example path that Haniger has talked about as his leadership style. Plus, his vow at the end of his eloquent Players’ Tribune article that the Mariners would end their playoff drought seems to be a good way to win over a clubhouse.

Eugenio Suárez – The Life of the Party

He has two-tone hair, he dances in the clubhouse and on the dugout steps, and of course has the motto for the way the Mariners strive to conduct themselves during the season: “Good Vibes Only.” Suárez brings a fun and lighthearted element to the clubhouse, but as the one who is central to whether an event is fun, in this case, fun equals winning and Suárez has delivered in that aspect as well with his pop and power. He leads the team in doubles and is tied for second in home runs and RBI. What’s more fun for a lineup than that?

J.P. Crawford – The Heart

The soul of this lineup, the invisible fiber of good vibes and the intangible essence that leads to comeback wins and extra-innings success, the unquantifiable “clutch factor” all emanate from J.P. Crawford. He is the embodiment of who the Mariners are as a team: able to deliver a hit or get on base when absolutely needed, and despite a couple of uncharacteristic games, a defensive stalwart that exudes confidence behind pitchers. The heart brings everyone together and is imperative to the success of a lineup. Crawford has provided that strong base by leading the team in on-base percentage and coming in just behind Ty France in slugging percentage and batting average.

Julio Rodríguez – The New Guy

Whether it’s at school, an office, or wherever you go, an arrival of someone new brings a buzz and excitement. There will be curiosity, rumors about what this new person can do and an outsized amount of attention placed on everything that happens once they first arrive. For the new guy, things are new and exciting. There is a joy in accomplishing each task and that energy spreads to everyone else. Julio has provided that with his infectious joy in each achievement, from drawing bases-loaded walks late in games to finding a rhythm at the plate. Much like every new person, there is a learning curve and acclimation process, but that growth builds into additional goals and accomplishments down the road.

Jarred Kelenic – The Thinker

We know Jarred Kelenic’s work ethic and the way he analyzes every aspect of the game. It reflects many of the characteristics of “The Organizer,” and that certainly is a path you can see Kelenic arriving at some day. However, this constant analyzing (or overanalyzing) can get in the way of the tangible output at times. There are successes, but it is a process as every situation is scrutinized and broken down. Nevertheless, it’s an important dynamic for every lineup to have, especially if it leads to long-term success in the future.

Tom Murphy – The Prankster

You need someone to keep everyone loose, especially over the course of a long season. Tom Murphy is the funny one in the clubhouse, the devious one on the field, and the guy who might flash the intense look just to scare you and get a laugh out of it. He’s also the resident “Dump the Bucket of Water on a Player During a Postgame Interview” guy, which is of course a very important job. A team that wins a lot is going to have a lot of victorious postgame interviews in need of a pranking.

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The Leader, The Life of the Party and more: The Mariners’ lineup defined