Zoning in on Seth Smith


Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Chris Iannetta.

The heart of the Mariners order has its fair share of big name—and then some. There is of course Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. The trade for Adam Lind even adds another slugger. But right in there as well, quietly lurking with his consistent production, is outfielder Seth Smith.

Of course, many Mariners fans learned the name quickly in 2015 as he went 3-3 with two doubles, a triple and 2 RBI  in his Mariners debut, which came in a packed house at Safeco Field on Opening Day.

He’s off to a similarly hot start here in Spring Training, putting up quite the line—he’s batting .548/.588./.744, for an almost absurd 1.362 OPS.

Those numbers are nice, and so are the ones that Seth Smith has put up over his career, but there’s a noteworthy one from last year that sure fits into the Mariners philosophy this season.

In 2015, Seth Smith saw an average of 4.21 pitches per plate appearance, which wasn’t only the best on the Mariners, but also ninth in all of baseball for players having had at least 450 plate appearances. It’s something that surely appealed to general manager Jerry Dipoto as he looked over his roster heading into the offseason with an eye towards a more refined offensive approach.

“It’s definitely something we used as a focal point while we were trying to build our offensive club,” Dipoto said on the Hot Stove show in speaking about controlling the strike zone. “You can go out there and grind out at-bats and lengthen the lineup. Even though some of the names in there might not be marquee, star-quality players, you can drive run scoring by controlling the strike zone and grinding at-bats.”

Smith’s approach at the plate is something that caught the skipper’s attention.

“Seth has done that his whole career,” manager Scott Servais said in speaking with Greg Johns of Mariners.com earlier this spring. “He fits in perfectly with what we’re trying to do. In our lineup, there are certain days we get very left-handed, and he’s part of that. But he’s off to a great start this spring. His at-bats have probably been more consistent than anybody else’s.”

Look for Seth Smith to share time in a corner outfield spot with Franklin Gutierrez, as they team up in a bit of a platoon—with Smith facing a lot of righties and Guti getting the lefties.

Off the Field

Like a lot of the Mariners we’ve profiled so far in this series, Smith was a star in multiple sports growing up. Playing football at Hillcrest Christian High School in his native Jackson, Miss., he was Mississippi Private School Association 4A MVP in football. He was also all-conference in basketball twice and soccer three times. He actually went on to be backup quarterback to Eli Manning during his time at Ole Miss.

In baseball, he was also a member of the USA National Team, and won a silver medal at the Pan American Games in 2003.







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