Rookies Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Mitch Haniger have played well and will be a cheap outfield for the coming seasons.
HOUSTON — As the 2017 season comes to an end, the Mariners can look at their outfield with a level of certainty and optimism for the future. It’s certainly different from a year ago, when offseason change at the position was a certainty.
On Sunday, the Mariners started rookies Ben Gamel (left field), Guillermo Heredia (center field) and Mitch Haniger (right field) in their typical look with Jarrod Dyson on the disabled list. It’s a lineup you’ll see the rest of the season and likely quite a bit next season.
The three youngsters give the Mariners defense, athleticism, more offense than expected and affordable contracts. All three are making the major-league minimum and have years of club control ahead.
Playing so many rookies, particularly all in the outfield, isn’t typical.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Analysis: Does Russell Wilson really want to leave the Seahawks for the New York Giants?
- Seahawks mailbag: Earl Thomas comp picks and what to do about special teams
- Patriots owner Kraft denies charges of soliciting prostitute VIEW
- Five things to know about Husky great Myles Gaskin entering the NFL combine
- Mariners score court victory to have Lorena Martin discrimination case heard in private arbitration
The Mariners are one of three teams since 1913 to have three rookies start more than 80 games in the outfield, with Gamel starting 115 games, Heredia starting 98 and Haniger starting 82 despite missing two months on the disabled list. The most recent team do it was the 1969 Kansas City Royals: Lou Piniella (125), Pat Kelly (106) and Bob Oliver (89).
There have certainly been ups and downs that come with playing rookies.
Gamel hit a solo homer on Sunday, giving him 10 to go with a .278 batting average, .722 on-base plus slugging percentage, 22 doubles, five triples and 54 RBI. After going on a torrid run and hitting .354 in his first 51 games, Gamel predictably cooled off. Still he’s having a season that has the Mariners hopeful for more.
“I think Gamel has hung in there,” manager Scott Servais said. “I don’t think he was going hit .350 the whole year. After he tailed off, he’s come back a little. He’s competing and he plays hard all the time. That’s all we ask of our guys.”
Gamel admitted he’s lost about 5-10 pounds through the grind of the season, off a frame that didn’t have much to spare, while dealing with minor dings and dents. It’s a product of how he plays. But he isn’t making excuses.
“I feel as good as I can be,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to stay healthy. There’s nothing major. Everything I can play through. Being up last September helped my mindset.”
Haniger has been on a torrid stretch of late. He went 1 for 4 on Sunday and is hitting .403 (29 for 72) with six doubles, a triple, five homers and 12 RBI over the last 17 games. For the season, he’s hitting .277 with an .832 OPS, 21 doubles, 13 homers and 42 RBI in 84 games. An oblique strain sidetracked him in March and June, and a fastball to his face sidelined him in August.
“It’s really important how you finish seasons,” Servais said. “Everybody says it, but to really put into play what Haniger has done and how he’s bounced back and not just, ‘Oh, he just had one good month.’ No, he’s had a couple good months. When he’s healthy and playing every day, you can see how his preparation and how he goes about it start to pay off.”
Gamel and Haniger are the eighth and ninth players in club history to bat .270 or better in their rookie season (minimum of 340 plate appearances). The last time the Mariners had a pair of rookies do that in the same season was in 1984, when Alvin Davis hit .284 (161 for 567) and won the rookie of the year award while Phil Bradley hit .301 (97 for 322).
• D.J. Peterson, once considered to be the Mariners’ first baseman of the future, is joining his third organization this season.
The Mariners’ first-round pick in the 2013 draft was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday from the White Sox.
It was the second time this season Peterson had been claimed off waivers. He started the season as the starting third baseman for Class AAA Tacoma and on the Mariners’ 40-man roster. But Seattle designated him for assignment on July 30 in a series of roster moves. The White Sox claimed him off waivers on Aug. 6. Peterson reported to Class AAA Charlotte, playing in 25 games and hitting .198 with a .642 on-base plus slugging percentage with two doubles, four homers and nine RBI. But he wasn’t called up with September roster expansion. The Reds had an open 40-man roster spot with one-time Mariners reliever Drew Storen being transferred to the 60-day disabled list and scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery.