2017 Fantasy Recap: Seattle Marriners
The Seattle Marriners haven’t reached the postseason since 2001, the longest active drought in the majors. They were a middle-of-the-pack team in both hitting and in pitching this year, with the latter likely being a result of their pitchers spending an MLB-high 1,114 combined days on the disabled list.
To that end, the days of Felix Hernandez using his overpowering fastball and deceptive change-up to dominate hitters for seven, eight or nine innings will become rarer in the future. The Marriners believe shorter stints on the mound and potentially more rest between starts will be the way to ensure Hernandez’s long-term availability.
He had two different stints on the disabled list and missed a total of 92 games. He was sidelined by inflammation in his right shoulder in late April, returned in late June and was back on the disabled list in early August with bursitis in the same shoulder. Hernandez is coming off an injury-filled 2017 season during which he made a career-low 16 starts due to a series of injuries, going 6-5 with a 4.36 ERA. He will turn 32 next April and he has thrown more than 2,500 innings in his career.
With Hernandez spending so much time on the disabled list, right hander James Paxton actually led the Marriners with a 12-5 record; those 12 wins this season represented a career-high. Paxton will finish the campaign with an impressive 2.98 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 10.3 K/9. Injuries remain a concern entering the 2018 season, but there’s no denying Paxton’s upside when healthy. As he took the mantle of “staff ace” from Hernandez, the team will also look to apply the same strategy of rest and recovery, along with shorter outings in the hopes of lessening concerns of overuse, for Paxton.
In terms of the batting order, first baseman Yonder Alonso heads into free agency unsure of his next destination, though he’s very open to staying in the Pacific Northwest. The first-time free agent is coming off a breakout season in which he slashed .266/.365/.501 with 28 home runs and 67 RBIs while making the American League All-Star team. Alonso, 30, hit .265 with six homers and 18 RBIs in 132 at-bats following the trade to Seattle. He had never hit more than nine home runs in a season prior to 2016.
Nelson Cruz might have turned 37 years old this past summer, but you would’ve never guessed as much with the season he had in 2017. His 39 home runs were the fourth-most in the American League, and his career-high 119 RBI actually led the AL. His slugging percentage (.549) and OPS (.924) were both good for fifth in the AL.
Seattle already addressed a major 2018 need by dealing for pitcher Mike Leaked, with St. Louis eating enough money of Leake’s contract to turn the right-hander into a $13 million-a-year pitcher over the next few seasons. He went 3-1 over the five starts he had with Seattle this year.