Adding Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez gives the Mariners a stronger presence in the middle of the order, allowing other players to move to more natural spots in the lineup.

The Mariners have a more formidable middle of the order this season than they’ve had in a while. Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Jesus Montero and Raul Ibanez should get most of the at-bats in the 3-4-5 slots. That’s an improvement on the past three offense-challenged seasons.

2010 No. 3
hitter   
No. 4
hitter   
No. 5
hitter   
Mariners .227, .238, .210,
23 HR 18 HR 13 HR
AL average   .276, .275, .264,
22 HR 29 HR 22 HR

Mariners notes: Franklin Gutierrez, who hit .245 with 12 home runs, was the Mariner who got the most time in the No. 3 spot in the order. Russell Branyan, acquired in midseason, and Casey Kotchman also got some time there. Jose Lopez, who hit poorly enough the team traded him after the season, was the team’s cleanup hitter, with Gutierrez and Branyan also hitting in the No. 4 spot. Gutierrez, Lopez and Ken Griffey Jr., before his abrupt retirement, were the team’s most common No. 5 hitters.

2011 No. 3
hitter   
No. 4
hitter   
No. 5
hitter   
Mariners .244, .215, .233,
16 HR 16 HR 18 HR
AL average   .272, .264, .267,
24 HR 24 HR 21 HR

Mariners notes: This isn’t good. The Mariners’ hitters who spent the most time in the 3-4-5 spots were Dustin Ackley (6 home runs), Mike Carp (12 home runs) and Justin Smoak (.234, 15 home runs). When Ackley wasn’t hitting third, it was usually Smoak, Milton Bradley or Adam Kennedy. After Carp, Miguel Olivo and Jack Cust got the most at-bats in the cleanup spot. Kennedy and Olivo were the most common hitters, after Smoak, at No. 5, a spot where the Mariners tried 14 players.

2012 No. 3
hitter   
No. 4
hitter   
No. 5
hitter   
Mariners .260, .234, .275,
11 HR 17 HR 31 HR
AL average   .264, .274, .261,
28 HR 27 HR 25 HR

Mariners notes: The Mariners began the season with Ichiro hitting third, although Kyle Seager ended up with the most games in that spot. Jesus Montero, then John Jaso and Justin Smoak received the most time at cleanup. Seager, Smoak and Montero shared the No. 5 spot in the order.

Bill Reader, The Seattle Times