The ballad of Mariners catcher Mike Zunino is a tale of woe. Zunino has shuttled to and from Tacoma trying to stick in MLB. After a historically prolific month at the plate, is Mike Z here to stay?
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, regardless of what he does over the next four games, has already etched his name next to Mariners greats Edgar Martinez and color commentary man Mike Blowers with his 30 RBIs in a single month. He needs only four more to pass Blowers and Martinez for most RBIs in a month in Mariners history.
Zunino has been a monster since his call-up in late May, slashing .333/.392/.713. A combination of a different approach at the plate and perhaps renewed confidence in his swing has produced a run by Mike Z unlike any in the former third-overall pick’s career.
First, we have to look at the numbers Zunino has produced since his most recent call-up from Tacoma. I mentioned his .713 slugging percentage. That’s the result of over half of his hits since May 23rd (his call-up) going for extra bases. Of his 29 hits in that span, six have been doubles and nine have left the yard.
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Those power numbers are in spite of a horrendous 38:7 K:BB ratio, and helped by a truly incredible .488 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). The only way to get Zunino out in recent games has been to strike him out.
If you were to extrapolate the numbers Zunino has posted over the past five or six weeks to a full season, here’s the stat line you’d get: 88 Runs, 38 doubles, 57 home runs, 194 RBIs, 44 BBs, and 237 Ks.
It’s insane how much Zunino has been getting on base, let alone blasting baseballs over fences, while striking out so much. Eventually, the BABIP will come down, and the strikeouts will catch up to him, but if Zunino can destroy baseballs like he has been in late May and early June, there’s a good chance this is the season he stops taking the bus down to Tacoma. It all depends on how Zunino responds when the league adjusts to him again.