Brewers writer shares insight into new Mariners 2B Kolten Wong’s play

Dec 3, 2022, 9:42 AM
Mariners Kolten Wong...
Kolten Wong of the Milwaukee Brewers takes the throw at second base against the Chicago Cubs on August 20, 2022. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The Mariners have a new second baseman and it’s Kolten Wong, a two-time Gold Glove winner who made his MLB debut in 2013 and spent the last two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Mariners acquire 2B Wong from Brewers for Winker and Toro

Wong isn’t a superstar infielder like many were hoping the Mariners would get, but he’s an established big leaguer with a pretty steady track record.

So what should Mariners fans know about the team’s newest player? Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob Friday afternoon to discuss the latest M’s addition.

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When looking at Wong’s 2022 season, a few things stand out.

The first is that while his overall numbers at the plate were good, the left-handed hitter had a career-worst year against left-handed pitching.

Wong slashed .251/.339/.430 overall with a career-high 15 home runs, but he slashed just .138/.266/.175 against lefties. That’s much worse than his career .254/.310/.344 line against southpaws.

Rosiak said that those struggles didn’t have anything to do with Wong undergoing any major changes at the plate or anything like that.
Issues vs LHP

“I think it’s probably just kind of the ups and downs of a career, the ups and downs of various seasons,” he said. “The best way I can describe Kolten Wong is he’s just a gamer.”

Wong is someone who can hit up and down the lineup, Rosiak said.

“I would expect he will be a definite plug-and-play and a guy that if he’s able to stay healthy, will play the bulk of games for the Mariners and will quickly become a fan favorite,” he said.

Wong also told Rosiak once the season ended that he played through a lot of pain with a number of “nagging” injuries during the season, namely ones that impacted his core and torso.

“Which, as most people know, that’s where a lot of the action occurs for a baseball player, the twisting the lateral movement, that sort of thing,” Rosiak said.

Those injuries were notable as Wong, a 2019 and 2020 Gold Glove second baseman, had far and away his worst season defensively as he had 17 errors and graded out below-average defensively.

“If you look at his (defensive) numbers from last year, he ranked at the bottom of the league,” Rosiak said. “All the metrics were very much against him last year and he finished with a career-high-tying 17 errors and probably should have had a few more were it not for some favorable scoring decisions.”

When talking to Rosiak after the season, Wong conveyed he was very “determined” and “motivated” to have a better defensive season in 2023.

-Said last year was certainly an “aberration” and that Wong told him after the season ended that the core injuries played a big part in that

“He said he’s going to leave no doubt that he is the best second baseman in baseball,” Rosiak said. “He’ll be 32 years old all of next season. Those are strong words. But this is a guy that’s got a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger, and has played in a lot of big games over the course of his career, so I definitely wouldn’t bet against them.”

“I would say the bumps and bruises aside, the inconsistency aside, again, I think he’s going to be a really solid pickup for an already really good Mariners team,” Rosiak added.

The Mariners have a very close and tight clubhouse, and that was put into the spotlight a bit after the season with reports that some in the organization were unhappy with the work ethic of Winker, who now is with the Brewers. So what’s Wong like in the clubhouse?

“Awesome guy from a media standpoint. Always available, always a smile on his face, always happy to talk,” Rosiak said. “Very-well regarded teammate. His locker was always a popular spot in the back of the clubhouse. Guys would seem to congregate around him. I would think from having not been in the Mariners clubhouse, obviously, but from afar, I would think you’d be able to drop him right in and he’ll be a perfect fit. This is a guy that’s been around the majors for a long time, knows how the game is played both on the field and off and is going to do everything asked of him and more to help the Mariners franchise.”

Listen to the full conversation with Rosiak at this link or in the player below.

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