Where GM Hollander sees improvement coming for first-place Mariners

May 30, 2024, 12:35 PM

Seattle Mariners Josh Rojas Julio Rodríguez...

Josh Rojas and Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners score against Houston on Sept. 26, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners are in a good spot, sitting in first place in the American League West over a third into the MLB season.

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The M’s haven’t necessarily been playing up to their full potential, either, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your outlook.

For Mariners general manager Justin Hollander, it’s a little bit of both.

“We do measure ourselves against ourselves,” Hollander said Thursday when he joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy live at T-Mobile Park. “Being in first place is great, obviously winning is great. I think what we’re looking for now is to consistently play to our potential, and I don’t think we’ve done that yet in a lot of different ways.”

What are the areas of improvement for Seattle?

“I think generally speaking, one through nine offensively – or one through 13 offensively – we need to do a more consistent job of putting points on the board,” Hollander said. “We see a ton of pitches and that’s great. We often get the (opposing) starter out of the game early just by volume of pitches. We need to do a better job of putting the ball in play, we need to do more damage when we do put it in play.

“I think one of the things we did really well last year, around too many strikeouts, was we had a ton of runners on base, constant traffic. And we have not been able to replicate that consistently this year. We need to do that. There cannot two- or three-inning stretches where there’s just no traffic on the bases. We’ve hit well with runners on. We just need more runners on.”

How will 2024 shake out for M’s?

Hollander expects to see progress there as the season continues.

“I’m really excited about where we’re at record-wise, and I think there are signs of the type of team we can be,” he said. “It just needs to happen more often, particularly on the offensive end. We just need to be more consistent with putting pressure (on opponents). Our pitching is good enough to carry us; it shouldn’t have to every night. So that’s just being honest about where we’re at. We need to see more signs more frequently. I do think we should have a good offensive club. I do think by the time the year is over, we will. I would like it to start happening sooner rather than later.”

How will that happen? It could include key players hitting their stride, as well as potential additions.

“I think if you just look at our lineup and I would assume we regressed to just career norms or projections, I think J.P. (Crawford) and Julio (Rodríguez) and (Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco and Mitch Haniger) among other guys are very likely to take a significant step forward as we get into the season. I just don’t think this is going to be look up in September and what’s on the scoreboard today is going to exist on the scoreboard for those guys at that point. So I think that’s our step forward. And I also think you know we will improve our team over time with either internal additions or additions externally.”

Hollander isn’t forgetting about Seattle’s division rivals, though. The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros have underperformed this year based on expectations, but Hollander said the same things he noted about the Mariners go for them.

“I wouldn’t expect any of those teams to be sellers at the deadline. I think all of us have big aspirations and we’ll continue to pursue those aspirations,” he said.

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Seattle Mariners general manager Justin Hollander in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Catch Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

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