BROCK AND SALK

‘I cringe at it,’ Salk says of one critique of Mariners’ offense

May 13, 2024, 2:47 PM

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodríguez...

Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners bats against Oakland on May 12, 2024. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

MLB insider and former baseball general manager Jim Bowden had a lot to say about the Seattle Mariners during a recent appearance on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy.

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Bowden said the M’s, who at 22-19 entered Monday with a half-game lead in the American League West, will need to make a “painful” trade this season to improve their struggling offense enough to take advantage of what he personally ranks the best starting rotation in the league. He was pretty pointed in his critique of the offense, too.

“Whatever you all think the lineup was projected to do, I disagree,” Bowden told hosts Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost. “I think the lineup is doing what I projected it to do. Maybe the strikeouts are a little bit more than I thought, so I’ll be nice – I’ll knock off 20, maybe 25, I’ll be kind. But besides that, I don’t know where you all thought this offense was coming from. Give me some names of guys that you think were supposed to perform better that this. I never saw it. That was my whole criticism of Seattle in the offseason is how do you have a pitching staff this good and not want hitters.”

Another Seattle Sports host, Mike Salk of Brock and Salk, took umbrage with Bowden’s point. He agrees that the Mariners’ offense has not been good enough, as evidenced by their MLB-worst 424 strikeouts (28 more than the next team) and batting average (.223) and OPS (.668) marks that rank 25th in baseball. But the idea that offensive issues this bad should have been expected is off the mark, according to Salk.

“I gotta say, I hear this and I cringe at it,” Salk said before playing the clip of the aforementioned Bowden comments. “… So the last part, fine. Yes, you would like their offense to be better. But ‘Name me some guys who you saw more offense coming from?’ How about literally everyone other than three players on the team who are all below their career average OPS?”

Seattle’s offensive statistics are full of hitters who so far are well off their career numbers, including offseason additions Jorge Polanco (.597 season OPS, .772 career) and Mitch Garver (.654/.812), and even superstar Julio Rodríguez (.633/.809).

“I’m not telling you that this offense should be the ’27 Yankees. But yeah, who did I see more coming from? I saw Ty France having better than a .617 OPS,” Salk said. “I saw Polanco being above .600 – he’s at .597 today. I saw J.P. Crawford above .600 – he’s at .598 today. I saw Luke Raley higher than .621. I saw Julio quite a bit better than .633 – like 200 points better. … Again, I’m not telling you that this offense is supposed to be great. It’s not necessarily built to be a premier offense in baseball, and in that regard he’s right. But don’t sit here telling me, ‘Oh, I expected it to be exactly like this because none of them have a track record. It was all potential.’ They do have a track record. They’re just not playing to it.”

Could M’s offense be nearing an improvement?

Considering those track records and the spot the Mariners currently sit in, the likely regression towards the mean could be good news for the Mariners.

“I get frustrated with some of the mischaracterization of the reasons this team has struggled. They have struggled. Their offense has not been good,” Salk said. “This is not to try to pull the wool over your eyes and tell you that the offense has been great, or that it was a perfectly built lineup, because I have some other issues with the lineup. I think they needed more power and I thought they went away from that. I’m not here to tell you this is perfect. But don’t tell me that they’re exactly what they were supposed to be. They’re not. They’re quite different from that.

“… You’ve got six or seven people on this team that are significantly below their career expectations. When they get to their career expectations, or even within 50 OPS points instead of 200, this offense will be OK. It won’t be incredible, it won’t lead the league, it might not be top 10, but it’ll certainly be good enough to complement this pitching staff and give you an opportunity down the line to add to it and make it just a little bit better.”

Hear the full Brock and Salk discussion from Monday’s show in the final segment of the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Catch Brock and Salk live from 6-10 a.m. weekdays on Seattle Sports 710 AM, the Seattle Sports app and streaming on SeattleSports.com.

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‘I cringe at it,’ Salk says of one critique of Mariners’ offense