2015 Fantasy Outlooks: Seattle Mariners

Felix Hernandez

Finishing third in 2014 was a decent if unspectacular result for the Seattle Mariners but they could have a tougher fight from the Rangers and Astros for their finishing position in 2015 than they had last season. The acquisition of Nelson Cruz was the headline in the offseason but they made solid moves in adding J.A. Happ, to bolster the rotation, Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith to give them some outfield options. In contrast they lost Michael Saunders in the Happ transaction and lost Justin Smoak also to the Blue Jays but this time through waivers. Seattle have some decent fantasy prospects entering 2015 and there is a couple of decent value picks late in the draft for both hitting and pitching

Hitting.

Predicted Line-up (courtesy of www.rosterresource.com)

  1. Austin Jackson, OF
  2. Seth Smith, OF (vs RH), Justin Ruggiano, OF (vs LH)
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Nelson Cruz, DH
  5. Kyle Seager, 3B
  6. Logan Morrison, 1B
  7. Mike Zunino, C
  8. Dustin Ackley, OF (vs RH), Willie Bloomquist, OF (vs LH)
  9. Brad Miller SS (vs RH), Rickie Weeks, SS (vs LH)

Fantasy Superstar: Robinson Cano, 2B

For a while Cano has been the consensus #1 second baseman in fantasy but now there is some questions over that. Rendon and Altuve’s superb 2014 combined with Cano’s slight loss of value in Seattle mean that now Cano is in a three way debate for number 1. He is currently being drafted as the #1 overall second baseman at the end of the first round/top of the second according to fantasy pros. That feels like a slight over value as I would rather have Rendon at the same spot or Altuve later in round 2 than I would take the plunge on Cano at his current value. Cano is still a solid pick in the late second round range because he can put up 80 runs and RBI with just under 20 homers, 5-10 steals all at a greater than 0.300 average.

Bust Alert?: Nelson Cruz, OF

Cruz had an amazing 2014 and because he signed late was a major bargain in leagues which drafted early. Coming off a PED suspension there were slight concerns for Cruz’s power but he hit 40 homers on his way to a top ten outfielder in a year that defied the doubters. However, the move to Seattle should suck some of that power given that Baltimore is much more hitter friendly than SafeCo. 30ish homers is a more realistic expectation for Cruz and 100 RBI is possible with the batting line-up ahead of him but there is massive concern that last year may have been an outlier for an ageing player and then we could be looking at a 20 homer player who has 80ish RBI while hitting at a below average average of 0.250-0.260. I have a lot of concern over Cruz this year especially in the 6th round but if he falls then he is a solid pick in the 8th/9th round of a 12 team league with the potential for value upside.

Good but Over Priced: Kyle Seager, 3B

Now before I start please do not think I don’t think Seager is a really good player because he is and he does it all in a pitcher friendly environment but he is being overvalued for me entering 2015. Currently he is going just before Carlos Santana, at least a round ahead of Chris Davis and David Wright and nearly four round ahead of Matt Carpenter and Manny Machado. Personally I have him ranked behind Santana and in a tier with the other guys I mentioned there. I personally prefer David Wright from that tier but I can see why you might chase Seager’s upside from that tier. However, for him to be drafted in the 6th round when you can get similar value in the 10th round with Machado makes him over priced in 2015.

Under Valued Speed: Austin Jackson, OF

Finally someone I think is a value on this Seattle team entering 2015. Jackson is by no means a stud option for speed but in the 20th round he is a great value. 20+ steals with everyday playing time means that he can offer you 80+ runs to go with those steals. While he may not offer much in home runs and RBI (5-10/50-60) and his average is no great gain in the 0.265 region he doesn’t hurt you and he offers decent upside if you balked on steals early. Id happily take him over the following outfielders going above him: Marlon Byrd, Adam Eaton and Lorenzo Cain. Nothing ground breaking there but I have him projected to be better than Shin Soo Choo who is going nearly 80 picks higher than him.

POWER!: Mike Zunino, C

More of a two catcher relevant guy but if you need power late and you have some solid average guy up front then Zunino is an interesting flyer at catcher even in a one team league. Zunino won’t offer you a great deal of help in runs, he doesn’t steal and he will actively hurt you in average but he can give you some RBI to go with those home runs.

Any Other Business?

  • Brad Miller, SS: I have sleepers coming out of my ears at shortstop so you can guarantee that some of them are going to fail but Miller has been a favourite for the last couple of years. I love his potential even in the pitcher friendly Seattle. With Chris Taylor missing the start of the season I expect Miller to fight off the unwanted advances of Rickie Weeks to be the #1 SS for Seattle. 15-20 homer potential with potential for 60ish runs and RBI at a not helpful but not damaging average means he is in the 15th SS range. If you have punted the position then Miller could be a decent option in the last round of drafts who can still offer you decent upside if he can win out of the platoon.
  • Logan Morrison, 1B: He falls just outside my top 30 but to see Morrison taken late in 12 team leagues wouldn’t stun me. 15 homer potential at a 0.270 average is a decent late round haul if you need a little power without the average sacrifice the 20 homer guys in that range require you to take.

As for the rest of the guys in the line-up I do expect Ackley to see the majority of AB’s over Bloomquist but even then he isn’t a big enough producer for me to be looking at him in anything smaller than 16 team leagues. Smith and Ruggiano looks to be a true platoon situation so there is no fantasy value for me there and as I said I fear Weeks loses the battle even for a platoon spot meaning he isn’t in draft consideration for me.

Pitching

Projected Rotation

  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Hisashi Iwakuma
  3. James Paxton
  4. Taijuan Walker
  5. A. Happ

Fantasy Superstar: Felix Hernandez

The King is set to dominate once again in his castle up in Seattle. A sure fire top 5 pitcher who will churn out 200+ innings at a k/9 of 9.5ish with an elite ERA and close to elite WHIP. He shouldn’t go any higher than top 10 in standard roto leagues but if you draft below 15th then your chances of getting him are extremely limited.

Iwakuma doesn’t really have a category because I think he is being drafted at a solid position for his value right now. Currently going in round 8/9 as the 25th pitcher off the board that is almost exactly what I expect from a close to elite WHIP guy who will give you a solid ERA and strikeouts. Paxton has massive sleeper potential of can put it together but right now I feel the value is pretty much spot on as the 70th pitcher off the board. If he can get the WHIP down a little and pitch over the projected 170 innings then he has the potential to be a top 50 pitcher but that doesn’t mean you should reach for him before round 20 because there is a lot of good pitching out there this year. Walker has potential but currently I would rather have Paxton as they are going at a similar value (Paxton in R21 and Walker in R22) because Walker is not sure thing to pitch 150+ innings. J.A. Happ intrigues me enough in deeper leagues to be worth a mention here with the move from Toronto to Seattle meaning his numbers could improve enough to make him a top 80 or better pitcher. Don’t put too much stock into him yet though because we haven’t seen him string a lot together. A very late flyer in 14/16 team leagues.

Projected Bullpen

CL: Fernando Rodney

SU: Yoervis Medina

SU: Danny Farquhar

MR: Charlie Furbush

MR: Tom Wilhelmsen

MR: Dominic Leone

LR: Erasmo Ramirez

A messy bullpen situation here with Rodney being effective if not great at times the last couple of years. Underneath is still the pitcher who was barely on rosters a few years back before his breakout season with Tampa. My personal favourite behind him are Farquhar and Wilhelmsen but neither are worth gambling on. If Seattle look good this year and Rodney isn’t cutting it then they could go out looking for a closer later in the year I feel.

Prospect Report

  • Ketel Marte, SS: At only 20 I don’t expect to see Marte in the majors early this year but an arrival late in the season may not be a shock given that Miller and Taylor are not sure things. A high average guy with decent speed last year could see him batting high up the order in the future with real potential to be a top 5-10 SS. A dynasty guy only in drafts.
  • Carson Smith, RP: Smith got called up late last year getting one win and 10 strikeouts in 8.1 innings of work. This year he should start in the minors but could come up at some point in the season and will be a close to lock to come up in September. Unlikely he slots into the closer role in 2015 but he is a solid relief pitcher with future potential especially if you play in a holds league.

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