If I told you a month ago that Michael Saunders would be on the front page of Yahoo Fantasy Sports as a “must add” player, would you have believed me? Of course not! Even as the most ardent of Condor supporters I wouldn’t have believed it myself (though I often dreamed of such a day). Yet here we are on June 7th, and Saunders is leading the Mariners in batting average, stolen bases, and is sporting a healthy .807 OPS.
It’s easy to forget, since he’s been in Seattle since 2009, that Saunders is still just 25-years-old and might just be figuring out big league pitching. His aggressive approach at the plate this season is paying early dividends with 13 first pitch hits in 2012 against just one first pitch hit in 2011. Saunders ability to hit the ball the opposite way and up the middle leaves pitchers fewer spots to expose his swing than last season when his only success came pulling the ball.
After being nonplussed by left-handed pitchers for the first three seasons of his career, Saunders is hitting southpaws with authority (.873 vs. lefties/.783 OPS vs. righties) and is putting to rest any idea that he is merely a platoon outfielder. He struggled with strikeouts early in the season and probably always will, but he’s K’d just three times over his last 40 at-bats, showing the ability to make adjustments on the fly. Saunders is hitting for average, he’s hitting for power, he’s stealing bases, and he’s playing terrific defense in centerfield.
The Condor is soaring. Enjoy the ride…