Shawn O’Malley has settled in as a spare outfielder for Scott Servais and the Mariners after a stint as a regular starter. Where does the utility man fit in for the stretch run?
Shawn O’Malley was recalled from Tacoma after being optioned there to start the season on May 15th. Before he was called up, he slashed .317/.412/.439 and stole five bases for the Rainiers. O’Malley filled in at shortstop when Ketel Marte was out with an injury earlier this season and has slashed .252/.324/.365 in 67 big-league games.
We saw Shawn O’Malley last night against the Yankees late in the game as a defensive replacement. He joined Leonys Martin and Guillermo Heredia to form an excellent defensive outfield to help the bullpen protect a slim lead.
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Shawn O’Malley passes the eye test for me defensively. While his defensive numbers, according to Baseball-Reference.com, are only slightly above average or a shade below average, he has had such a small sample size at each position for me to take too much stock of them. He was smooth in the hole, showed good range, and displayed a solid throwing arm.
Offensively, Shawn O’Malley doesn’t have a huge power profile, but he has shown good contact skills at the AAA level and has proven savvy and fast on the basepaths. He has five steals for the Mariners this year, which doesn’t sound like a ton, but consider the Mariners are 14th of 15 American League teams in steals.
Not every team needs steals to score. The Mariners are fourth in the league in runs scored and third in home runs, but they have been incredibly inefficient and generally ineffective at stealing bases. Martin is the only baserunner on the team who should see the steal sign other than O’Malley, based on the numbers. Martin is by far the Mariners’ leader in steals with 15. Marte has eight but has been caught five times, and Nori Aoki, third on the team with six steals, has been caught an appalling nine times (6 for 15 in stealing attempts!).
Shawn O’Malley has been caught twice in his seven attempts this season, but if he can add an element of speed to the lineup whenever he sees action, he brings a rare dimension to this Mariners’ offense and allows Servais and company more options than to simply wait around for the home run.
Jerry Dipoto hasn’t been shy about optioning and recalling players between Seattle and Tacoma early and often. O’Malley has appeared to have carved out a role on the big league club for the foreseeable future and with good reason for his smooth fielding and speed.