After four straight seasons of historically low offense of output, the Seattle Mariners are certainly raising some eyebrows during the first week of the Cactus League season.
Not only is the team enjoying a seven-game win streak, but they are showing tremendous amount of power, leading all of baseball with 18 home runs to date. What makes this even more ironic is that newcomers Michael Morse and Kendry Morales have only one home run between them.
Instead, names like Justin Smoak, Jason Bay, Carlos Peguero, Michael Saunders, Nick Franklin, and others have been the ones going deep.
I always caution people that it’s important to remember that this is spring training, but it is encouraging to see production up and down the line up. This is where general manager Jack Zduriencik had in mind when he added veteran sluggers like Raul Ibanez. The hope was that veteran leadership as well as proven bats would take pressure off the younger players and allow them to blossom.
The fact that More and Morales are also playing for new contracts also did not hurt, as players often shine when looking for their next big payday.
One key element to the early offensive out-pour is new hitting coach Dave Hansen. Hansen was a former Mariner who made a name for himself through several years in the majors as a solid professional hitter and a very dependable pinch-hitter.
He and Ibanez were teammates with the Mariners in the past, and bonded over their love of music and hitting theories. Hansen apparently has related very well to both the veterans and younger players, all of whom seem to have responded to his teaching approach and instruction.
It remains to be seen if this approach will continue to show success when the team plays in colder climates, and is forced to deal with the grind of the regular season where they will face major league pitching every night.
For now, fans and the front office are encouraged by what they see, and believe that the Mariners finally might be sailing in the right direction.