WYMAN AND BOB

Goldsmith: 2 veteran bats critical to Seattle Mariners’ success

Apr 16, 2023, 4:35 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2023, 10:34 am

Seattle Mariners Eugenio Suárez Ty France...

Ty France and Eugenio Suárez celebrate an 11-2 Mariners over the Angels on April 4, 2023. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

When a young player on the rise catches fire, like Jarred Kelenic has for the Seattle Mariners in the early weeks of the 2023 season, it’s easy for other players’ contributions to fall under the radar.

Salk: With Kelenic raking, there’s one thing Mariners shouldn’t do

The Mariners certainly have a few hitters who fall into the category as they’ve been putting together wins in an effort to climb out of a hole created by a slow start, two of which were highlighted by M’s broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith when he joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Friday.

Goldsmith, who splits his time as a play-by-play announcer both on the Mariners Radio Network (of which Seattle Sports is the flagship station) and on ROOT Sports TV broadcasts, was asked by co-host Bob Stelton if any hitters are standing out to him besides Kelenic. Stelton offered up All-Star first baseman Ty France as an example, which Goldsmith agreed with.

“We’ve seen it before that when he is healthy and right, he is one of the most effective right-handed hitters in the American League,” Goldsmith said of France.

Is the real Ty France back?

Despite making the 2022 AL All-Star team as a late injury replacement, France struggled in the second half due to elbow and wrist ailments, which was evident as he had trouble keeping up with velocity and had to compensate in a way that made him more susceptible to chasing off-speed pitches off the plate.

Always known as a balanced hitter with an ability to spray the ball around the field, the 28-year-old France looks like himself at the plate to start 2023. He owns a .339/.423/.500 slash line for a .923 OPS with seven doubles, a home run, 11 RBIs and just seven strikeouts in 15 games entering Sunday.

“We have seen the impacts of him not being right, not being healthy, and sometimes not being in the lineup at all,” Goldsmith said to Stelton. “So you’re right, I think he absolutely is critical.”

Soaring Suárez

There’s another veteran hitter who Goldsmith wanted to shine the spotlight on, and it’s someone with a very different approach at the plate compared to France.

“I think it’s funny because when Eugenio Suárez isn’t hitting home runs, I think his production can be overlooked for some reason,” Goldsmith said of Seattle’s slugging third baseman.

Suárez hit his second homer of the season to jump-start a five-run fourth inning in Saturday’s 9-2 win over the Colorado Rockies, but he’s been much more than a power hitter in the early going.

Entering Sunday, he owns a .295/.343/.443 slash for a .786 OPS with three doubles and a team-high 13 RBIs – all despite leading the teams in strikeouts (20) a season after setting the franchise record for most punchouts in a season by a hitter.

Goldsmith said watching Suárez play day in and day out opened his eyes to something about the way the game is played today.

“What he taught me last year as just an observer of baseball is you can strike out at a very high rate – which he did last year, he set the Mariners’ single-season franchise strikeout record – and still be an incredibly effective player,” Goldsmith said. “Now, he does hit a lot of home runs, but he also draws an above-average amount of walks, and when he hits the ball, he hits the ball hard. And so that increases his chances of getting on base. He has not gone off in terms of the power numbers yet, but he has made great contact by and large and has gotten off to a very good start.”

Similar to France, Suárez was slowed down the stretch in 2022 due to injury – he fractured a bone in his right index finger towards the end of the regular season, which required a short injured list stint. He was able to return in time for the playoffs, however, and had some big hits for Seattle in the postseason even though he was playing through the issue.

“It didn’t really dawn on me until he had the finger injury down the final stretch of the season in September just how overlooked he can be, especially if he’s in a stretch where he isn’t hitting the ball over the fence, because he’s still such a threat,” Goldsmith said. “And when he makes contact, it’s such quality contact. He’s still such an integral part of the lineup.”

Wyman and Bob airs from 2-7 p.m. each weekday, including live from Edgar’s Cantina at T-Mobile Park before every Friday Mariners home game. Listen to the full conversation with Goldsmith – plus visits with Seattle Mariners reliever Paul Sewald and catcher Cal Raleigh – in the podcast below.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Mariners’ Jerry Dipoto: Improved secondaries created ‘new ceiling’ for Gilbert
Dipoto ‘not too worried’ about Kolten Wong’s slow start
Fann: Diving into breakout for Kelenic, and what it means for Mariners
What Dipoto makes of Mariners’ uneven first two weeks
Bob Stelton’s Seattle Mariners Breakdown: Is the real Kelenic here?

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