The Mariner’s New Center Fielder

Isn’t new at all.  Thanks for the click by the way.  Instead the following are words and thoughts on once praised, now questioned, Franklin Gutierrez.

Franklin had a shitty season last year.  Anyone?  See what I did there…. Okay, Moving on.  After finally diagnosing his stomach ailments Guti returned to the M’s lineup as a shell of his former self.  Underweight and out of shape, Franklin never really got going in 2011.  In 344 plat appearances Franklin managed 1 homer, 13 doubles and 0 triples.  Jack Cust got a triple last year by the way.  Franklin had an ISO (Isolated Power) of .050 (compared to his .126 career mark.)  For all batters last season with at least 300 plate apperances, that ranked 6th worst, between Juan Pierre and Ruben Tejada.  Chone Figgins’ .056 was better.

At the end of the day his triple slash – .224/.261/.273 pretty much described the Mariner’s offense.  What the hell?

But like wise some people say, “tomorrow is a new day and you can’t change the past” and in the case of baseball, 2012 is a new season.

Assuming the stomach issues truly are a thing of the past and Guti recovers from his late season oblique strain, his numbers will be substantially better this season.  Franklin will play the 2012 season at the age of 29.  An age that if healthy, should be one of his prime years.  Bill James projects a .255/.312/.378 line next season, with a .304 wOBA (early fan projections have him at a .303 wOBA)

Now you might be saying “We need more offense, not a slightly below average major league hitter” and while true, the situation must be looked at in context.  Last season Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders contributed roughly 450 at bats while playing center field.  Between the two of them they posted an average wOBA of .220 (.245 for Gutierrez & .195 for Saunders)  In terms of wRC+, a very fun stat, the two combined created 66% fewer runs than your league average hitter.  Yikes.  Even if Gutierrez performs at his 2010 level and not his 2009 level next season, that would still be an increase of about 53% in terms of runs created next season.  Or 10% more than the Angels would have received playing Pujols over Trumbo last season.  Cust’ sayin.

This isn’t to say the M’s will break any scoring records in 2012.  This offense still needs plenty of improvements and in the coming weeks we should see some moves to address those needs.  A healthy Franklin Gutierrez in center field will be one of the improvements going into 2012, and he’s already ours.