Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The Mariners’ struggles in the outfield have been well documented. Not only the team’s struggle to put together a polished product that flies statistically, but also the team’s struggle to put a constant product together.
It was a struggle to find suitable partners for Ichiro Suzuki in the outfield. Recent examples include the likes of Raul Ibanez, Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp, etc.
Take away Ichiro and it turned into a struggle to find a suitable outfield trio.
The Mariners tried almost everything, including a rash of outfielders who spent time between Tacoma and Seattle. That group included Casper Wells, Mike Wilson, Carlos Peguero, Trayvon Robinson, Eric Thames and Carp. Then there was the newer group of older, mostly hitting-oriented outfielders. That group included Ibanez, Chavez, Michael Morse and Jason Bay. Seattle also tried its fair share of experiments, using both Dustin Ackley and Chone Figgins in the outfield with mixed results.
Mixed results, that’s what the outfield has been for the Mariners. Of all the Mariner outfield forays listed above only Ibanez, Guti, Chavez, Saunders and Ackley are still with the big league team. That number could decrease this off-season considering the former three have their contracts expiring.
Not a lot has worked. Saunders and Ackley have both showed flashes of being good players, but those flashes are almost always followed by months, or seasons, of inconsistency.
Seattle needs a new outfielder, specifically a center fielder. Enter Jacoby Ellsbury.
You can make all the talk you want about him being a Northwest native (from Oregon, went to Oregon State), but the M’s need his talent whether he’s from Oregon or Timbuktu.
This past year, the speedy Red Sox center fielder hit .298 with a .781 OPS. Only Ibanez and Kendrys Morales had higher OPS numbers on last season’s Mariners, mainly due to their high slugging percentages.
Not only does Ellsbury provide an elite speed and production at the top of the order, he also provides the M’s with above average defense in the outfield. Two things the M’s have been looking for, pretty much since Ichiro left.