Mike Zunino was supposed to be a cornerstone piece of the Mariners future. A proven college player, from a big-time school (Univ. of Florida), with a track record of consistent success. Unfortunately for both Mike Zunino and the Mariners, that consistency never translated to the major league level, despite his obvious power, he often times found himself struggling to keep his head and batting average above the Mendoza line. Strikeouts and inconsistencies at the plate were rampant throughout his time in Seattle.
Guillermo Heredia has shown the ability to play the outfield with an impressive athleticism but has struggled in his career with the Seattle Mariners to hit consistently. In essence, the same issues Zunino faced, also limited Heredia’s success in Seattle.
At the beginning of the season it appeared that a more compact swing had helped Heredia limit his hitting droughts, Ultimately, he faded out of the starting lineup, and then from getting much playing time entirely, as the season wore on and his batting average sunk lower. He was even demoted to the minors in August.
The M’s decided to move on, they acquired a player the team believes is an everyday player, Mallex Smith. The 25-year-old center fielder is coming off a breakout 2018 season with the Rays. He hit .296, with a .367 on-base percentage (OBP), and .406 slugging. He smashed 27 doubles, stole 40 bases (76.9% success) and led the AL with 10 triples.
Smith slots in nicely at the top of the Mariners lineup. Last season, Dee Gordon‘s struggles to get on base after a toe injury were well documented. Gordon finished with a pretty poor.288 OBP last season, not what the M’s want in a leadoff hitter.