Jose Lopez Is the Third-Best Hitter in Baseball, and Other Conclusions from the World Baseball Classic

The Mariners are faring well in this spring's World Baseball Classic, the international tournament that's like the Olympics but with pro players. In particular, Jose Lopez--the 2nd baseman who struggles with 300-yard sprints like Michael Scott struggles with fun runs--is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. In 12 plate appearances (hey, that's all we've got to go on!), he has one home run, seven doubles, two walks, and an astronomical 2.250 OPS.

Only Adam Dunn and Carlos Delgado are hitting better than Lopez, but they have fewer plate appearances. If the young Venezuelan can maintain this pace, he will shatter numerous hitting records this summer. But Lookout Landing warns us not to credit that impending dominance to Lopez's new batting stance.

Similarly, new leftfielder Endy Chavez (2 HR, 7 RBI, 1.278 OPS) and offensively anemic catcher Kenji Johjima (2 HR, 8 RBI, 1.345 OPS) are feasting on the WBC's largely semi-pro pitching. As for the Mariners own pitching, the downsized versions of Carlos the Whiner (0.00 ERA, 1.75 WHIP) and Felix the King (0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP) have thus far been decent and untouchable, respectively. And first-round pick Phillippe Aumont got himself into a mess--and then got himself out of it.

Who's struggling? Former Mariner and Ichiro-blaming oaf JJ Putz, who nearly blew a save against Canada. And Ichiro has been just ordinary, with four singles and a .571 OPS.

Finally, on the spring training end of things, it's worth noting that wunderkind pitcher Brandon Morrow--profiled last summer by SW's Jesse Froehling--may lose his spot in the rotation because of a forearm injury.

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