As a lifelong skeptic, I am the first person to downplay a small sample size of excellent statistics.
When Mike Sweeney tore through spring training and earned a roster spot with the Mariners this year, part of me said 'good, I'll take an able bat on the bench,' while another part of me said 'why are we wasting a roster spot on a non-fielding designated hitter and pinch hitter when we already have Griffey filling that role?' I was skeptical, but willing to give Sweeney a few weeks to prove me wrong.
When Mike Sweeney went 1-14 to start the season (a tidy .071 batting average), I was one of the first to demand he be sent out to pasture. As previously mentioned, we already had Griffey to fill the "veteran leader slash clubhouse presence slash non-fielder slash decent pinch hitting option slash past-his-prime hitter" on the roster, and an older Mike Sweeney who couldn't even bat the Mendoza line had no spot on the team in my opinion.
Not even two months into the season, Mike Sweeney is starting to prove me wrong.
It all started last week, when a friend and I had a discussion over who we would rather have as the everyday DH, Sweeney or Ken Griffey Jr. The nostalgic part of me leaned towards The Kid, but I was arguing in favor of...Mike Sweeney.
This was before sleep-gate , before Griffey's silent demotion from the DH role, and before Sweeney strung together a few starts at DH this week, but I still endorsed him over Griffey. Why? Because, unlike Griffey, Sweeney seems to actually have some pop left in his bat.
As I mentioned before, I am generally skeptical of small statistical samples. That being said, it is interesting to look at Mike Sweeney's statistics both after his 1-14 start (April 25 to present) and starting at DH this week (May 13-15).
Since his 1-14 start, Mike Sweeney is 10-31 (.323) with 3HR/5R/5RBI. In three starts at DH this week, Sweeney is 5-11 (.455) with 3HR/3R/3RBI.
Obviously, Mike Sweeney's recent numbers will not continue all year (Sweeney's last .300+ season was in 2005), but he has shown promising results for a team desperately lacking power. His most important statistic may be his four extra-base hits (three home runs and a double) over his past four starts at designated hitter. It should be noted that since April 25, a stretch where Mike Sweeney is hitting .323, Ken Griffey Jr. is a miserable 6-35 (.171) with only one extra-base hit.
As the baseball world speculates over whether the Mariners will pursue a better designated hitter via trade, one must wonder whether Don Wakamatsu is willing to let Mike Sweeney have the job for the time being.
If the last three games are any indication, the job is Sweeney's to lose.