Mike Zunino – Your June RBI Leader

If you asked me two or three weeks ago, who would lead all of Major League Baseball in RBIs for the month, I would have chosen maybe 500 players before settling on Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino.

I have very little personal interest in Zunino – in fact, his second home run Monday night screwed up a save opportunity for Eddie Diaz and I wasn’t happy about it. (#FantasyBaseballIssues)

Zunino is absolutely locked in right now. There’s no disputing that – and people have tried to argue with me about this and it has made me pretty hot (As In upset…not attractive). Zunino’s at-bat in the third or fourth inning when he screwed up I think is what turned the corner for him. Jarrod Dyson had just singled, and he and Danny Valencia were on base waiting for Zunino to drive them in.

“He JUST missed it,” were the words I said emphatically as he fouled off a 91-mph pitch from a disheveled veteran pitcher (Anibal Sanchez) as I watched the game with my girlfriend who was nice enough to go out of her way to experience watching a baseball game with me. Unfortunately, I then had to explain what a foul ball was to justify my reaction – but it was so close to getting hit out of the park! The next two pitches he looked really bad, and it made me lose faith in what he could do to help the Mariners the rest of season.

But he had two more at-bats left.

Zunino turned a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 Mariners lead and eventually a 6-2 win, which segways into my next point.

I messaged everyone in my highly competitive fantasy baseball league that Zunino was on a tear, and he was leading all of Major League Baseball in RBIs for the month of June, so if anyone needs a catcher…he’s a good choice and on our waiver wire. I got a reply from my league adversary that read “only 16 catchers have outscored him.’’ It’s a ten-team league so obviously, he wasn’t impressed. Of course, we happen to play each other this week, and the four-run lead Zunino gave the M’s took Diaz out of a save opportunity.

In Zunino’s defense, he had a really slow start to the year, got sent to Triple-A Tacoma to work through his issues and ever since – he’s been the best catcher in baseball. Comparing numbers for the entire year isn’t fair considering his circumstances and it wasn’t that long ago when he was considered among the best catching prospects in baseball.

He’s proving that now.

So, let’s discuss his two home run balls from Monday. After the really bad at-bat where he fouled off probably his best pitch to hit, he swung and missed at another Sanchez special in the hot zone, and then he was struck out on a breaking ball that floated into the heart of his swing preference. I was really mad at him. There were already two outs and he had two guys on base. I was not happy.

Oh crap, we’re supposed to be talking about the two home runs.

Yeah, they were not expected. Granted he had ‘help’. In both cases, Jarrod Dyson was on first base for both at-bats and his level of speed creates a panic for the brains of pitchers. Maybe they rushed their delivery or were at least worried, but in both cases, Mike didn’t hesitate. He was patient in his first AB – homering on a 3-2 pitch, but jumped all over a 1-0 breaking ball down in the zone for his second bomb.

He’s beyond ‘heating’ up. Zunino is officially heated up, and manager Scott Servais may continue to move him up the batting order in the near future.

I hope I don’t have to explain a foul ball from him to my girlfriend again (As much as I want to watch baseball with her)…and I hope the managers in my fantasy league will admit when they are wrong, but until then, please enjoy this absolute moon-shot, astral-projection show from Mike Zunino!

He’s so hot right now.

About Simon Teska 38 Articles
Hello friends of the Pacific Northwest! I am still learning the ways of the west coast sports, but I have quickly grown fond of many of your sports team and I really enjoy writing about them all! I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania – not Philadelphia. 95% of the people I meet in Oregon assume I’m from Philadelphia. I went to college in Miami, Fla., moved to Denver, Colo. Before moving to Jamestown, N.Y. (south of Buffalo) where I was a sportswriter for the local newspaper for three years. I got involved with the YMCA and was a youth sports director for six years at several different branches. Working with kids is fun…and I enjoy it, but writing sports stories is usually more fun – unless I don’t have a topic to write about in mind. Then playing basketball with third graders is way more fun. I have evolved into a Blazers fan, and am a HUGE fan of Terry Stotts. I like the Seahawks and the Ducks. The Mariners are cool too. Baseball is my favorite sport and my favorite teams are the Miami Marlins, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Heat and the Indianapolis Colts. (When you grow up with a bunch of Steeler fans, you have to be a rebel and I really liked Marshall Faulk) I look forward to learning and writing about the sports scene here in Washington and Oregon. Go Blazers, Go Ducks, Go Mariners, Go Hawks! And I guess those Beavers, Timbers and Hops are floating around somewhere too.