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Seattle Mariners: 2022 Season Preview

Previewing the 2022 Seattle Mariners season, including lineup, rotation, top prospects to watch, and win/loss projections.

Bills Mafia

The Mariners were one of the 2021 season’s biggest surprises. They finished with a 90-72 record, their highest win total since the 2003 season. Much of their success seemed short-lived, but the ball just never dropped on their success last season. Their Pythagorean win-loss record was 75-87, meaning they beat their expected win total by 15 games.

Scott Servais did a good job with his young talent. Top prospects Logan Gilbert and Jarred Kelenic made their much-anticipated debuts. Although Kelenic struggled mightily, he turned things around late in the season and should be a strong contributor in 2022. The Mariners, who own the second-best farm system in the major leagues, should have additional reinforcements on the way this season. Headlining those reinforcements is baseball’s number three overall prospect, Julio Rodriguez.

The Seattle Mariners 2022 Season Preview:

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Notable Departures

RP Kenyan Middleton – Free agent, signed a one-year deal with ARI

SP James Paxton – Free agent, signed a one-year deal with BOS

RP Joe Smith – Free agent, signed a one-year deal with MIN

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SP Tyler Anderson – Free agent, signed a one-year deal with LAD

RP Sean Doolittle – Free agent, signed a one-year deal with WAS

SP Yusei Kikuchi – Declined player option, free agent, signed a three-year deal with TOR

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3B Kyle Seager – Declined team option, free agent, elected retirement

1B Jake Bauers – Free agent, signed a one-year deal with CIN

1B Jose Marmolejos – Signed to play in the NPB

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Notable Acquisitions

2B Adam Frazier – Acquired via Trade with SD (for LHP Ray Kerr and OF Corey Rosler)

SP Robbie Ray – Signed to a five-year, $115 million contract

3B Erick Mejia – Signed to a minor league contract

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OF Jesse Winker – Acquired via Trade with CIN (for OF Jake Fraley + additional players)

3B Eugenio Suarez – Acquired via Trade with CIN (for OF Jake Fraley + additional players)

RP Tommy Milone – Signed to a minor league contract

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Projected 28-Man Roster

Catcher: Luis Torrens, Tom Murphy, Cal Raleigh
First Base: Ty France
Second Base: Adam Frazier, Dylan Moore
Third Base: Abraham Toro, Eugenio Suarez
Shortstop: J.P. Crawford
Left Field: Jarred Kelenic
Center Field: Julio Rodriguez
Right Field: Jesse Winker, Mitch Haniger
Pitchers: Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, Matt Brash, Diego Castillo, Ken Giles, Andres Munoz, Sergio Romo, Paul Sewald, Justus Sheffield, Drew Steckenrider, Erik Swanson, Yohan Ramirez, Anthony Misiewicz

The Mariners don’t have much outfield depth on the surface, although super-utility man Dylan Moore can play there if needed. Kyle Lewis should start the season on the injured list, with a return possible in May or June. One of their four major outfielders, likely Haniger or Winker, figures to get time as a rotating DH in 2022.

I initially left Cal Raleigh off of my initial projection, but I expect until the return of Lewis from injury, the Mariners will look to utilize Torrens more as a DH, opening the door for some starts for Raleigh behind the dish.

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Projected Lineup (and Slash Projection)

  1. 2B Adam Frazier: .270/.345/.415, wRC+ 110
  2. 1B Ty France: .280/.365/.455, wRC+ 130
  3. RF Jesse Winker: .300/.380/.520, wRC+ 150
  4. DH Mitch Haniger: .240/.315/.490, wRC+ 100
  5. 3B Eugenio Suarez: .235/.315/.450, wRC+ 97
  6. SS J.P. Crawford: .285/.345/.380, wRC+ 105
  7. CF Julio Rodriguez: .260/.325/.455, wRC+ 105
  8. LF Jarred Kelenic: .255/.320/.410, wRC+ 90
  9. C Tom Murphy: .225/.315/.390, wRC+ 90

The Mariners lineup has taken huge strides to improve over the past two seasons. Adam Frazier gives the Mariners the true leadoff bat they’ve been missing while new acquisition Jesse Winker provides the much-needed stability in the middle of the lineup that perhaps could have propelled the club to the playoffs last season.

I’m not projecting Julio to set the world on fire; we saw last season from Jarred Kelenic why that isn’t always realistic. I expect him to slump at times in 2022, but overall he should post a very respectable rookie batting line. For reference, I project baseball’s top prospect, Bobby Witt Jr., to post a 110 wRC+ in his rookie campaign. If the Mariners can get better than average production from Julio and he’s able to stick in center-field all season, that’s a massive win for the franchise.

A name not featured in the lineup above that could play a huge part this season is Kyle Lewis. If the 2020 Rookie of the Year can return healthy in early May, the Mariners could deepen their outfield tremendously. It would allow them much more flexibility within their lineup.

Projected Rotation (and Stat Projections)

  1. Robbie Ray: 14-5, 3.40 ERA, 235 SO, 55 BB
  2. Marco Gonzales: 9-7, 4.10 ERA, 110 SO, 50 BB
  3. Logan Gilbert: 10-3, 3.90 ERA, 185 SO, 38 BB
  4. Chris Flexen: 11-9, 4.35 ERA, 144 SO, 47 BB
  5. Matt Brash: 8-5, 4.00 ERA, 156 SO, 75 BB

The Mariners made the move to add prospect Matt Brash to their rotation to start the 2022 campaign. I expect his stuff to carry well in the major leagues but he will need to tidy up the walks against much tougher competition in the major leagues. Most improved on the list above figures to be last year’s call-up Logan Gilbert.

I expect Gilbert to cement himself as a top, young starter in the rotation for the Mariners. He has top of rotation stuff and already showed strong results in his work last season. Robbie Ray won the Cy Young in 2021, thanks in part to an extremely low BABIP that helped his case and kept the ERA down. I expect slight regression to the mean in that regard which brings his ERA up some. Regardless, he should pitch 200 innings, break 200 strikeouts with ease, and limit walks. He’s a true ace of the staff.

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Prospects To Watch

1. George Kirby – Starting Pitcher (Mariners No. 3, MLB No. 32)

A name to watch will be the Mariners’ top-pitching prospect, George Kirby. Kirby made a strong case to make the Opening Day roster (and almost did so). He needs to get some innings on his arm after some injuries have bitten him the last few seasons. Once he does, he should be a call-up for the Mariners this season. The stuff is electric and the control could be among the best in baseball on day one. Last season, between High-A Everett and AA Arkansas, Kirby logged 67.2 innings. Over his innings of work, he pitched to a 2.53 ERA with 80 strikeouts and just 15 walks. He allowed just one home run all season. That, paired with his 10.6 strikeouts per nine is evidence of his elite control and plus stuff. He’s truly an ace in the making and should make his way to Seattle this season.

2. Noelvi Marte – Shortstop (Mariners No. 2, MLB No. 11)

Noelvi Marte was an international signing by the Mariners in 2018. Last season, he made his professional debut stateside. He played 107 games in total, between Low-A Modesto and High-A Everett. Over those 107 games, he was fantastic. Marte hit .273/.366/.460 with 117 strikeouts, 60 walks, and 47 extra-base hits (17 of which were home runs). Only 8 of his games last season were in High-A, where he should get to start the 2022 season. If the hitting success continues, he should make his way to AA by mid-season. J.P. Crawford has become a strong everyday contributor for the Ms and still remains under contract through the 2024 season. The biggest question with Marte will be whether he makes the move to third base this season. He’s bulked up quite a bit since he signed as a 16-year old, and his frame profiles strongly as a hot-corner infielder.

3. Levi Stoudt – Starting Pitcher (Mariners No. 7)

Levi Stoudt is a 24-year old RHP that was drafted by the Mariners in the 3rd round of the 2019 MLB Draft. This Spring, Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto was asked by ESPN 710 Seattle’s Mike Salk about acquiring an additional starting pitcher in free agency. His response was clear: the Mariners believe in their young pitching talent. “We want to focus on adding someone who pitches closer to the top of our rotation than the back end,” DiPoto said. “We love the young guys, Levi Stoudt, George Kirby, Matt Brash, the guys we feel like are on the doorstep.” That’s how good Stoudt is. DiPoto’s inclusion of Stoudt with top talents like Kirby and Brash was no small mention. Last season between High-A and AA, Stoudt pitched 81 innings with a 3.31 ERA, 86 strikeouts, and 37 walks. He should make his way to the major leagues by mid-season or even earlier if a need arises in the bullpen or rotation due to injury.

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Projected Offense

In 2021, the Mariners’ run differential was -51 (their Fun Differential was +90). The Mariners ranked 15th (among 15 teams) in the AL in hits. They were 13th in doubles, 15th in triples, 8th in home runs, 15th in batting average, 13th in on-base percentage, and 14th in slugging. This led to them finishing 14th in OPS and 11th in runs scored. The Mariners’ largest hurdle in capturing the team’s first playoff appearance in over two decades will be improving their offensive output.

That’s the bad news. The good news? The front office has done an outstanding job tackling the problem this offseason. The addition of Jesse Winker takes their offense to new heights. The upside and promise of Julio Rodriguez could take them there also. The acquisition of leadoff man, Adam Fraizer (for pennies) gives the Mariners a true leadoff man that they haven’t had in recent seasons.

All of these additions make the Mariners a true offensive force in the American League. Instead of finishing in the bottom half of the league, they have the pieces to field a top-half offense in 2022. Look for the Mariners to improve their runs per game mark from 4.30 (in 2021) to well above 4.53 (league average) this season.

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Projected Defense

On defense, the Mariners have a mixed bag. J.P. Crawford made a strong case for a Gold Glove at shortstop last season. In the outfield, Jarred Kelenic played mostly solid defense in left-field. Rookie Julio Rodriguez is learning center-field this season. He practiced there this offseason, with his first game action coming this Spring. If “JRod” starts Opening Day in center field, it will be his first real-game action at the position. This could prove to be a liability for the Mariners if he struggles. His athleticism has improved greatly, so it’s possible he succeeds. It’s a true question mark, at any rate.

In the rotation, the Mariners allowed 4.62 runs per game last season. The League average was 4.53. The Mariners were essentially an average rotation last season before adding the 2021 Cy Young Winner (Robbie Ray). Ray will help the rotation improve, as will a sophomore version of Logan Gilbert. Gilbert pitched well last season and with a full season under his belt should be even better in 2022.

The Mariners’ depth is stronger, not due to the signing of Ray (Kikuchi and Anderson left in free agency) but due to the youngsters being on the cusp of contributing at the major league level. I expect the rotation to be better than last year’s league average group.

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Projected Win-Loss Record

With an improved lineup and a rotation even better than last season, the Mariners should be a contending team once again in 2022. A good frame of reference for what this could look like this season is similar teams last year, in 2021. The 2021 Athletics and Brewers.

The 2021 Oakland A’s scored 4.59 runs per game last season, just over the league average mark of 4.53. They allowed a good margin under the league average in runs allowed, at 4.24. If the Mariners can improve their runs allowed per game mark to just top-12 (it was 17th last season) while also achieving just a league-average lineup then they should finish close to where those Athletics did last season. Those Athletics, of course, finished 86-76 in third place of the AL West behind last year’s Mariners.

The 2021 Brewers also finished with a league-average offense, scoring 4.56 runs per game (essentially league average). Their pitching, on the other hand, allowed just 3.85 runs per game, good for third in baseball. If the Mariners can achieve similar results, meaning they improve their offensive output to just league average but their pitching jumps from 17th to top five, they could see similar results. Those Brewers finished with 95 wins and an NL Central division title.

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I don’t think that sort of improvement in the pitching department is beyond the Mariners. Anything can happen, even if they don’t, with a little bit of “fun differential.” However, I expect they post a top 5 pitching staff next season and win 94 games, en route to their first playoff birth in just over two decades. Buckle up Mariners fans, it’s going to be one to remember.

Written By

I'm a life-long Chiefs and Royals fan from Liberty, MO. I've since moved to Seattle, WA. I love the west coast life with my wife, two beautiful children, a german shepherd, and chihuahua. It's my pleasure to grow Stadium Rant as Director of Content, but I still love writing as well about what topics I'm passionate about.

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