The Seattle Mariners have struggled with getting on base and scoring runs throughout the 2015 season, despite their off-season acquisitions. That’s why it wasn’t that big a surprise that hitting coach Howard Johnson was going to be replaced. What was surprising was who they’re replacing him with.
This move screams of desperation for a team that is looking to improve an offense that is currently hitting .233/.295/.375 while posting a wRC+ 90 — remember, league average is 100 — in the 2015 season. Seattle’s in ability to get on base is costing the 68 home runs the team has clubbed so far. It’s one of the reasons the Mariners are the only team in the AL West to post a negative run differential (-47 runs in case you were wondering).
There are a lot of reasons the Mariners are struggling, like the fact that they are striking out in 22.2% of their plate appearances, and I’m not entirely sure that Johnson is that big a part of their struggle.
While this is the most complete roster Seattle has had since the early 2000’s, it’s a feast or famine roster that is built to hit home runs and that’s about it. Now there are some notable exceptions to that statement, second basemen Robinson Cano is the only player with a career track record of consistently getting on base…but he isn’t performing up to his usual standards and it has crippled the team’s offense.
Cano’s bad year and the continued under performance of several draft picks (Dustin Ackley, for example) has led to an offense that has been unable to help designated hitter/right fielder Nelson Cruz…especially since Cruz’s performance is now coming down to earth. The Mariners are apparently hoping that Martinez, who struck out in 13.9% of his career PAs and walked in 14.8%, can help the team’s players start performing up to their usual level.
Martinez retired after the 2004 season, and he disappeared from the public eye for a while. A few years ago the team brought him on as a roving instructor throughout the minor league system. It appears that the team feels comfortable enough with his performance in the minors that they are going to promote him and demote Johnson to the minors.