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Progress Report: Hitters

Here's part two in my series of grading player performances based on their performances so far. If you want to read part one on the pitching staff, go here. I will note that these grades are mostly based on the players' hitting performance, rather than defense, or fashion sense.The rest of the grades are arbitrarily determined and whatever I felt like giving them. Enjoy!

Catchers:

John Jaso: B+
Acquired in a trade this offseason, Jaso is exactly what we wanted out of him. A catcher who can actually hit. Great trade. With a bit more time in the lineup, we are going to get a chance to see exactly what we've got in Jaso. I have a strong feeling we won't be disappointed.


Miguel Olivo: F
Oh, Olivo. What are we going to do with you? Hopefully not put you in the lineup as DH again. So far this year, Olivo has been batting pretty badly (.210/.229/.346), even by his own standards (he has more strikeouts than hits for pete's sake). He should be better down the road once he's healthy again, but man he's been rough to watch. With Jaso and Montero swinging a better bat so far, it's a wonder exactly why Olivo can't swing his way out of the lineup.


Jesus Montero: B-
Jesus Walks! Well... not really. He's only walked three times this year, but he has been hitting pretty well, especially for his rookie year. He has some pretty high expectations after being acquired from the Yankees, but so far he is definitely showing signs that he could be a big part of the future of this team.

Infield:


Dustin Ackley: B-
We all know Dustin is great. We all expect Dustin to be great. Lately, he has been a little less than great. He should come around, but his strikeout numbers have been a little higher than you like to see, especially from someone who is batting high in the lineup. Perhaps, that's what the problem is, but Dustin has been known to be a little bit of a slow starter in past years as well. I expect he should right the ship soon.


Chone Figgins: D-
I don't hate Chone Figgins. I think he really does try hard and works to do his best at all times, but it just happens to be that his best just isn't any good. Early in the year, he showed some signs that he may have turned a corner and improved from last year, but that didn't last. He seems to be riding the pine a lot more often now, as it seems that Wedge has finally give up on him, much like the fans have as well. Sigh.


Munenori Kawasaki: C+
If there's anyone who is excited to be a Seattle Mariner, it's Munenori Kawasaki. He gets to play major league baseball
along side his hero, Ichiro. Who wouldn't be excited in his shoes? He's been pretty much as advertised at the plate and adds some speed to the lineup as well. He gets a bonus plus just for being so excited to play and entertaining to watch.

Alex Liddi: A
Lids I has had limited appearances this year, but has taken full advantage of them. With clutch hitting and flashes of power, Liddi earned himself the nickname the "Italian Stallion" and anyone who earns a nickname usually is doing pretty well (or terribly awful. See: Figgy Pudding).


Brendan Ryan: F
Brendan Ryan has struggled mightily at the plate this year (.157/277/.241), which is what his grade is based on. He's definitely not in the lineup for offense, but adds some great defense at SS at times. I believe that unless Brendan's hitting improves (which it really should), a platoon at SS with Kawasaki might be the way to go. At this point though, I dont have a searing urge to change much, simply because I don't see how it could get better any time soon no matter what change is made.


Kyle Seager: A
Kyle Seager has been awesome so far this year. He's hitting the ball with power (4 HRs) and driving guys home when they're in scoring position (20 RBIs). Also, he's hitting the ball often (.298/.310/.510). Oh, did I mention he's hitting the ball? That deserves an 'A' in itself with this infield's offense.


Justin Smoak: D-
Justin Smoak is the new Michael Saunders. We all know he's talented and can hit the ball well. However, he just can't put it together. Justin had an awful season last year overall with nagging injuries, the death of his father, and just general bad luck. This year, he's had every opportunity to succeed, but has struck out 28 times in 118 PA instead. He has hit three homers, but let's be real. Miguel Olivo hit three homers before he got hurt. Justin has really not shown much to get excited about at all and really has had trouble making decent contact. He needs to turn it around, and fast, or I could see someone like Alex Liddi replacing him in the everyday lineup.

Outfield:


Michael Saunders: B+
Overall, Saunders has improved his hitting. By how much remains to be seen. He is still striking out a lot (33 SO, 12 BB) but he's hit four home runs and driven in 12 runs. The judge is still out overall but thus far he is showing signs of hope that he has turned it around and can be a staple in the lineup.


Ichiro Suzuki: A
Ichiro is Ichiro no matter how old he is. Last year was a bit of an aberration on an otherwise stable career. This year, dropping Ichiro to the third slot in the lineup hasn't hurt his performance. Although, I suspect it has changed his approach (but that's a whole 'nother post in itself). He's been more consistent than most of the lineup this year, batting around .300 all year. My guess is that Ichiro continues to be Ichiro and probably performs a little better than last year, given that he actually has some capable bats around him in the lineup.


Casper Wells: B-
Casper Wells has shown some power in his bat by stroking four doubles on the year in his limited appearances. One concern I have is his strikeout numbers are a bit high for his limited apprearances, so he needs to work on that. Honestly, he's easily forgotten on this lineup since Wedge hardly seems to use him. Why he prefers Chone Figgins in left field over Wells is beyond me. With Mike Carp back and healthy, Wells' is as likely to be seen in the lineup card as the friendly ghost he was named after.