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First base is Justin Smoak’s job to lose, according to Lloyd McClendon

Feb 23, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals v Seattle Mariners Getty Images

With the off-season additions of Logan Morrison and Corey Hart, the Mariners were seemingly stockpiling first base types. But according to manager Lloyd McClendon, first base is Justin Smoak‘s to lose. Despite hitting .238, Smoak showed improvement last season, setting a career-high in home runs (20), slugging percentage (.412), and on-base percentage (.334).

Via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune:

“I told him he’s my first baseman,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I told him that this winter. Having said that, he still has to go out and perform. I like what I see (this spring) from him. He’s doing a pretty darn good job.”

The Mariners recently avoided arbitration with Smoak, agreeing to a one-year, $2.7875 million deal with a $3.65 million club option for 2015. He is eligible for arbitration going into 2016 and can become a free agent after the 2016 season concludes. The Mariners are hoping he can continue making progress as he nears free agency, giving them a good reason to sign him to an extension.

  1. tuberippin - Feb 23, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Well, it’s not like Logan Morrison is going to be any better.

  2. carpi2 - Feb 23, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    Given his batting average, a .334 OBP is pretty good. He may take a leap this year in production

    • mustang6984 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:57 AM

      He did improve his walk to strike out ratio last year. Worked a lot of walks…that a year before he would have struck out on.
      BUT…he needs to start hitting. He needs to be productive. Miller did well last year, and that may well make him the starting shortstop. Cano is a given, and Ackley finally looked like he remembered which end of the bat to hold last 1/2 of the season last year, hitting .273 in that part of the year. If Smoak does what he (& I) both know he can do…and they find a way to keep Franklin…there is gonna be some serious offense. Plus, word now is that since Cruz signed with Baltimore, Morales may be back on Seattle’s radar, and he was the producer last season…serious producer.

  3. bricsa - Feb 24, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    He’d have to take a much bigger leap to win an extension in my mind. Most of his HRs were from the left side and with nobody on base and .238 and 50 RBIs are dreadful for a first baseman. Still, the Ms didn’t go out and get anybody healthy to displace him, either offensively or defensively, their seeming content to “stand pat” at first and with a more-questionable outfield. If the latest batch of rumors come true, though, a signing of Morales will further complicate the 1B situation, Morales being a DH/IB. At least Morales hit better in Safeco than the last-rumored Ms signee, Cruz, has.

    • mustang6984 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:00 AM

      Actually…ALL but 1 (or maybe it was 2) home runs came form the left side. And as far as no one being on base, that surely wasn’t his fault.
      BUT…while he struck out less last year, converting many of those strikeouts form the year before into walks, he does need to produce more doubles and solid singles behind runner when they are on base.
      If he fails to get his offense in order by Memorial Day weekend, don’t be surprised to see him sitting for a week or more.

    • mustang6984 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:09 AM

      Smoak, Ackley, Miller an Cano along with Seager can make for a much better batting line-up than the team has had in awhile. Toss in the return of Morales, (which seems possible now that Cruz is in Baltimore) and there could be a whole different team on the diamond this year when the M’s are hitting. There needs to be. And if they M’s find a way to keep Franklin, and put him in every day as well..ugly for opposition could be a theme.
      Oh and Cruz…went to Baltimore Saturday afternoon. Now possible that Morales will be back. THAT would be a good asset pick-up.

  4. edelmanfanclub - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    He should be, people need to realize he plays half his games at Safeco which is not an easy place to hit. His road stats are much better: .253/.346/.436, that doesn’t change the fact that his weakness is obvious. He is not a good switch hitter.

    vLHP: .192/.274/.274 2 HR
    vRHP: .260/.361/.477 18 HR

    If he can hit better right handed he will drastically improve

    • mustang6984 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:04 AM

      That “Safeco is not an easy place to hit” garbage no longer gets the laundry washed. Other teams come in and have no problems. Hitting doubles and singles BEHIND runners is no different in Safeco than anywhere else. For Smoak, who does much better left-handed than right, hitting home runs is not that difficult either.
      He needs to get those small ball hits down to a science, level the swing, and lead with the hands better.When he does that…he can string together hits all day long. Keeping his head on the ball instead of looking to where he wants it to go is another factor.

  5. mustang6984 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:07 AM

    Smoak, Ackley, Miller an Cano along with Seager can make for a much better batting line-up than the team has had in awhile. Toss in the return of Morales, (which seems possible now that Cruz is in Baltimore) and there could be a whole different team on the diamond this year when the M’s are hitting. There needs to be. And if they M’s find a way to keep Franklin, and put him in every day as well..ugly for opposition could be a theme.

  6. musketmaniac - Feb 24, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    pirate fan chiming in. looks like Seattle is moving forward, I see improvements, its not hard to root for McClendon. To say he got dealt the wrong hand in Pittsburgh would be incorrect, he wasn’t dealt any hand at all.

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