Salk: The problem with Mariners’ offense is a new one

Apr 15, 2024, 2:19 PM | Updated: 3:11 pm

Seattle Mariners...

J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners during a 2024 game. (Kevin Sousa/Getty Images)

(Kevin Sousa/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners spent their offseason creatively re-tooling their roster in an effort to cut down on strikeouts and increase contact.

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The early returns haven’t been prosperous for the M’s in either category. Seattle entered Monday second-to-last in MLB in strikeout rate (28.9%) and just one spot better in team batting average (.204). And now another problem is emerging for the Mariners’ offense: there’s a power outage in the lineup.

Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk expressed his concerns about the team’s lack of slug Monday on Brock and Salk.

“Yes, they’re not getting enough hits, but they’re not hitting for any juice,” Salk said. “They’re not hitting for any power. And in today’s game, you have to do that.”

The Mariners entered Monday’s series opener with the Cincinnati Reds ranked last in MLB in slugging percentage (.308), 31st in doubles (15) and tied for 27th in home runs (13).

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One of the biggest factors in the lack of slugging is the team’s power hitters simply aren’t doing their part. Julio Rodríguez and Mitch Garver still haven’t homered. Luke Raley has just one extra-base hit in 23 plate appearances, and Ty France, who plays a premium power position at first base, has just two extra-base hits in 52 plate appearances. Jorge Polanco also had just one extra-base hit before hitting his second home run of the season Sunday.

“Those guys have to hit home runs in order for this team to function the way it’s supposed to function,” Salk said. “… I know everyone was excited about the emphasis on contact. I know everybody was excited that the strikeouts were supposed to be cut down. Obviously, that has not happened so far, but I never agreed with that (change). I never fully got it. You gotta hit home runs to win in the modern game of baseball, you have to. The pitching is too freaking good night in, night out.

“…You’ve gotta find ways to beat the guys that are great, and the best way to do that, in my view, is not to sit around hoping you’re gonna string together six hits in an inning,” he continued. “The best opportunity you have is to wait for a mistake and punish it and put it in the stands, and they have not gotten that from some of the guys that they expect from.”

Further complicating the situation for the Mariners is that early home run leader Dominic Canzone was placed on the 10-day injured list with an AC joint sprain (shoulder/clavicle) after crashing into the wall to make a catch in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Chicago Cubs. The team called up one of their top prospects, Jonatan Clase, to replace Canzone. The speedy outfielder has shown some pop in the minor leagues, but that’s not who the Mariners need to step up and get their offense going.

“I’m frustrated because I feel like they traded a little bit of power for contact, but the guys who they brought in to make contact aren’t making contact, and the guys who are supposed to still have power aren’t hitting for any power,” Salk said. “What do you what do you? How do you judge the decision making when the guys just aren’t living up to anything close to what the expected level is supposed to be?”

Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6-10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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