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2018 MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners

A look at the Seattle Mariners with fantasy baseball in mind.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Stats:

Final Record: 78-84
Runs: 15th
Home Runs: 17th
Stolen Bases: 13th
ERA: 15th
Saves: 15th
Strikeouts: 21th

Look at those team stats! Doesn’t get more middle of the pack then that! After starting the season as a popular selection to win their division, or at least make the postseason, the Mariners failed to reach the playoffs for the 16th straight season. The last time was Ichiro’s rookie season FYI. With a trade happy front office, the 2017 offseason will keep Seattle as one of the more interesting teams heading into next season.

Let’s take a look towards 2018.

The Superstar: Dee Gordon

Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano are the household names, especially for the Seattle faithful, but Dee Gordon is a fantasy baseball superstar. I often get grief for my ranking on Gordon, but he usually proves me right. Gordon finished 2017 as the #6 overall player in fantasy. Again, THE #6 OVERALL PLAYER! Sure, he only hit 2 HR and had 33 RBI, but fantasy baseball has more than just power stats. Gordon finished 5th in baseball with 114 runs scored and had a .308 batting average, good for 14th in MLB. Oh, he also led the league with 60 SB! The trade to Seattle, which is examined in detail here, helps Gordon. The Mariners and Marlins were pretty similar in 2017. The 2018 rosters are heavily favoring the Mariners! Gordon is a safe bet for a .300 average, 100+ runs, and 50+ SB. Hard to envision this being much worse than top 40.

The Sleeper: Nelson Cruz

It’s strange to consider a top 50 player a sleeper but hear me out. Cruz is going to be DH only going into 2017. This tag usually hurts a player’s value for some reason. It certainly did for David Ortiz for years! Cruz has been a top 50 player the past 2 seasons. In fact, since returning from his suspension in 2014, Cruz has AVERAGED 42 HR 106 RBI and a .287/.359/.549 slash line. Cruz is a top 40 pick in drafts next season who I fear will drop to the 75 range because of his DH only tag.

The Guy to Avoid: James Paxton

Paxton is a great pitcher, I’m not arguing that. This doesn’t change the fact he is being taken far too early in drafts. This trend started last season and I was a big advocate to avoid paying up for Paxton. The reason is health. Paxton reach a career high in major league innings last year with 136 IP. I can’t justify using a top 70 overall pick on a SP who gets me less than 25 starts. I’d much rather have Robbie Ray, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Nola, or even Marcus Stroman over Paxton next season when factoring in the cost to obtain them.

The Prospect To Watch: Dan Vogelbach

I guess this is Vogelbach. The Mariners are another team with little excitement in their farm system. Especially for 2018. Vogelbach at least offer power upside that could be used in deep deep leagues or AL Only. In 24 games of big league action, Vogelbach has 44 PA. He is hitting .175 with 1 double and 2 RBI. He has zero big league homers. The former 2nd round pick does have promising minor league numbers. Over 7 years in the minors, Vogelbach is hitting .287/.390/.476 with 100 HR and 438 RBI. More recently, his 2016 and 2017 seasons (both at AAA) resulted in a .291/.403/.480 slash with 40 HR and 179 RBI. Pay attention to the .403 OBP. This is an amazing stat! A safe average/on base with 20 HR potential is what I see in 2018 should Vogelbach get ample playing time in the majors.