Friday, May 6, 2011

MARINERS: Don't look now, but Justin Smoak is putting the Mariners on his back

The Mariners are 3 games out of first place in the AL West.

Wait, what?

Yeah, you heard me. The Mariners are on a tear, winning seven of their last nine games. The pitching has been excellent, especially from closer Brandon League, who is 9/9 on save opportunities. But the Mariners’ current winning ways can be largely pointed to one man.

Justin Smoak.

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(Wait, first off, I’ll make sure to not use the phrase “Smoak is on fire” on this blog. Why? Doing that would clearly be taking away from Tacoma News Tribune writer Ryan Divish, who uses that phrase every time Smoak does something great on his Twitter account. Good, we got that out of the way.)

The former Texas Ranger has been annihilating opposing pitchers. In his last 17 games Smoak’s batting average is .362 (21-for-58), and has hit 4 douubles, mashed 5 Home runs, and collected 18 RBI. VERY impressive.

Let’s put that in perspective. Franklin Gutierrez led the M’s last year with 12 homers, while Justin Smoak ALREADY has 5. He’s on pace to hit 30 home runs. While I don’t expect Justin to reach 30, it’s nice to think he COULD.

Smoak has reached base at least once in 23 of his 26 games this season, and has reached base at least twice in 14 of them.

Justin hasn’t been perfect, and it is early in the season. Any player on earth is capable of getting red-hot for a month. But Smoak is showing improved discipline at the plate, encouraging results versus lefties, and surprising power.

And hey, who knows where the Mariner would be without Justin Smoak. Chone Figgins is hitting .215, Milton Bradley .213, Miguel Olivo .208, and Jack Cust .198.

What’s great about Smoak is he’s not just padding his stats, but all his homeruns and hits have helped the Mariners as a whole.

That’s all you can ask for from a baseball player.

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