Fantasy Baseball Team Preview – Seattle Mariners

Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz

The Seattle Mariners enter 2016 with a ton to prove. They added talent over the past couple seasons but it hasn’t produced much in terms of wins on the field. Despite the lack MLB progress they do have a ton of interesting fantasy options that owners should look at including Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez.

Projected Lineup

Norichika Aoki – LF
Ketel Marte – SS
Robinson Cano – 2B
Nelson Cruz – DH
Kyle Seager – 3B
Adam Lind/Jesus Montero – 1B
Seth Smith/Franklin Gutierrez – RF
Chris Iannetta – C
Leonys Martin – CF

Ketel Marte

Last season Ketel Marte came up on the last day of July getting 219 at bats down the stretch. He hit .283 with 25 runs, 2 home runs, 17 RBI and 8 stolen bases. Marte should be a solid option in 2016 especially at a shallow shortstop position. 20 plus stolen bases are on the table for Marte. If he can stay in the two hole he should have a great opportunity to produce a strong run total getting in the neighborhood of 70 or so. If he hits lower in the order it will be more challenging making 50 plus a better estimate. His ADP on fantasypros.com sits at 233.8 which makes him a great middle infield option that could be in the top 12-15 among shortstops come seasons end.

Robinson Cano

In 2015 Robinson Cano started off poorly. So poorly in fact that many of his owners in fantasy baseball grew concerned. Before the all star break he was hitting .250 with 6 home runs and 30 RBI. His OBP sank below .300 which was very abnormal for Cano who has been consistently above that total for his career. The post All Star break reminded everyone how strong of a hitter he can be. In his final 278 at bats he hit .331 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI. His OBP was .387 which brought his season total to .334. While he is no longer the bonafide first rounder of seasons past he should be in the third or fourth round discussion and come off the board after Altuve and probably Dee Gordon.

Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz felt like a regression candidate a season ago making switch from Baltimore to Seattle. He was coming off of a 40 home run season when his previous high was 33 in 2009. Cruz was typically a high twenties home run guy in the seasons that followed the 2009 season. However he matched and exceeded that total hitting 44 bombs with an improved batting average and run total from the prior season. His RBI total went down 15 but was still over 90. To expect anything less than .280 average with high 30’s to low 40’s with 90 plus RBI. He’s is in the top 15 among outfielders with names like Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes ranking Cruz between the two.

Kyle Seager

Kyle Seager is in the back half of the top 10 among third baseman which feels very fair. He will hit around .260 and hit 20-25 home runs which he has done each of the last 4 seasons. His RBI totals have fluctuated during his 4 full MLB seasons. Two seasons have been high 80’s plus and two have been low 70’s and below. If you’re getting 85-95 RBI you’ll love Seager as your third baseman. That is probably more of a ceiling projection but seems fair considering the lineup he will be in. Fans, Zips and Steamer all have Seager in that range.

Platoons

Right Field

Seth Smith and Franklin Gutierrez will share time in right field again this season. Smith will see the majority of at bats against right handed pitching while Gutierrez will see the work against the left handers. Both players are much better options for AL only leagues or DFS.

First Base

Remember the excitement that surrounded Jesus Montero with the Yankees? He was a power hitting catcher that was supposed to do big things at the major league level. However he his now in a first base platoon with Adam Lind. Lind should get most of the work against right handed batters and Montero should see some of the work against lefties. This will be much more in favor of Lind as opposed to the straight platoon in right field. Lind is a solid corner option if you are looking for power late in drafts. He has hit 20 plus homers in 5 of the last 7 seasons.

Projected Rotation

King Felix Hernandez

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez is the ace of the Seattle Mariner pitching staff and arguably one of the best in all of the major leagues. Hernandez did see some regression in 2015 with an ERA that climbed well over 3 for the first time since 2011.Strikeout total under 200 for the first time since 2008 and the most allowed strikeouts since 2006. King Felix did win 18 games a season ago. He should bounce back with his peripheral numbers. His FIP jumped from mid two’s to High three’s. His HR/9 jumped over 1 after a career under 1. I expect an improvement for a pitcher that has been incredibly productive for his career. He should eclipse 200 strikeouts, ideally cut down on his walk rate to the levels of previous seasons. OUr fantasy baseball staff ranked him as the 10th best starting pitcher showing that we are buying a bounce back for King Felix.

Hisashi Iwakuma

2015 was a frustrating one for Hisashi Iwakuma. He missed a good portion of the season throwing just 129 innings with an ERA in the mid threes. He did have a walk rate 1.46 and a strikeout rate close to 8. If Iwakuma is able to build on these numbers in 2016 he could become the pitcher many of us saw in 2014. He is currently 54th among pitchers and inside the top 150 overall. While his teammate Walker may have more upside Iwakuma should be much safer assuming he makes his starts.

Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker is one of my favorite young pitchers. He has a ton of potential including a boatload of strikeouts. Unfortunately Walker is a bit of walker, pun definitely intended. He has a 3.19 walker per 9 in his two seasons with the Mariners. His walk rate did come down to slightly over two last season which could show big things may be on the way. Hopefully Walker can get to 180 plus innings with a strikeout per inning. Coming off of most draft boards at 162 overall and 66 among pitchers per fantasypros.com his upside potential is worth a gamble at that spot.

The rest

There are a few names in consideration for the final two spots in the rotation. Wade Miley, James Paxton, Nathan Karns. Of all these names the only one i like is Karns who was a very useable streamer a season ago. He had 145 strikeouts in 132 innings a season ago. He did walk a few too many batters for my liking but if you pick and choose spots with Karns he can be very useful.

Closer

Steve Cishek

Steve Cishek will get the opportunity to return to the closer role with the Mariners. He was a late inning guy a season ago with the Marlins and Cardinals. In 2013 and 2014 however he closed for the Marlins getting 34 and 39 saves respectively. He should have a shot at 30 plus saves with the Mariners averaging over a strikeout per inning. He is the 27th relief pitcher off the board and in the 200’s overall. He has some nice upside for those who are patient enough to wait on saves.

Joaquin Benoit

If Cishek falters Joaquin Benoit has been in the role before and could easily grab it again. Benoit should grab a handful of saves on days the Mariners rest Cishek and should be a solid option for those in leagues that use holds. He will also get you at or over a strikeout per inning.

Charlie Furbush

Charlie Furbush is another name to keep an eye on. He’s likely third in the pecking order behind Benoit. His innings have come down significantly in each of the last two season which causes a little concern. He also saw his K/9 rate dip from well over 10 to just above 7. If he can bounce back this year he will be useful. Otherwise he is a guy to avoid.

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