Mariners cleanup hitters are batting .190 with four homers

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Needless to say, they’re not going to fare very well on the following list.

Let’s take a look at each team’s OPS out of the cleanup spot this season.  Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera are leading the way.

1. Brewers – .984
2. Tigers – .983
3. Cardinals – .970
4. Dodgers – .969
5. Red Sox – .929
6. Marlins – .919
7. Braves – .895
8. White Sox – .892
9. Yankees – .818
10. Phillies – .816
11. Rockies – .814
12. Diamondbacks – .784
13. Mets – .777
14. Blue Jays – .768
15. Rangers – .761
16. Cubs – .758
17. Indians – .755
18. Angels – .750
19. Twins – .745
20. Astros – .730
21. Royals – .721
22. Pirates – .710
23. Orioles – .697
24. Nationals – .696
25. Giants – .686
26. Reds – .678
27. Rays – .666
28. Athletics – .663
29. Padres – .624
30. Mariners – .549

Mariners cleanup hitters have an OPS worse than Diamondbacks No. 9 hitters and 130 points worse than Seattle’s own No. 9 hitters.

The bulk of Seattle’s cleanup at-bats have gone to Jack Cust and Miguel Olivo. As disappointing as Cust has been, he’s actually been a huge improvement on the rest of the dreck:

Cust – .643 OPS in 159 PA
Olivo – .499 OPS in 131 PA
Justin Smoak – .477 OPS in 70 PA
Adam Kennedy – .469 OPS in 34 PA

Olivo, of course, leads the way in worst performance by a cleanup hitter this year. Here’s the worst, with a minimum of 100 plate appearances:

1. Olivo – .499 OPS in 131 PA
2. Scott Rolen – .553 OPS in 143 PA
3. Hideki Matsui – .576 OPS in 157 PA
4. Ryan Ludwick – .578 OPS in 192 PA
5. Adam LaRoche – .595 OPS in 132 PA
6. Evan Lonforia – .640 OPS in 131 PA
7. Justin Morneau – .642 OPS in 158 PA
8. Cust – .643 OPS in 159 PA
9. Jeff Francoeur – .664 OPS in 152 PA
10. Carlos Pena – .670 OPS in 104 PA

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.