From 1995-2003, the Seattle Mariners were one of the best teams in Major League Baseball. The Mariners made the only four playoff appearances in franchise history over that stretch which included them tying a single-season MLB record for wins in 2001 with 116. During this span, the M’s had future Hall of Famers in Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. suiting up for them, but they were unable to reach the World Series. The Mariners would win 93 games in 2002 and 2003, but as the American League West was so highly competitive with the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics at the time, Seattle was unable to make the postseason. Since then the Mariners have had a few occasions where they were close to making the playoffs, but they always fell short.
In 2007, Seattle won 88 games, but they missed the postseason by six games. In 2009, the M’s won 85 games, but they were unable to overtake the Halos in the American League West. And in 2014, the Mariners would win 87 games, but they would fall one game short of the final wild card spot in the A.L.
After posting a losing record in 2015, the Mariners showed signs of life this season. After two months in the 2016 Major League Baseball campaign, Seattle was playing winning baseball as they had a record of 30-21. At the All-Star break the Mariners were 45-44; however a surge saw them get to 67-57 by August 22. But the M’s would continue to be an up and down team throughout the regular season which ultimately caught up to them.
After completing a three-game sweep of the Angels on September 14, the Mariners found themselves in the midst of an eight-game winning streak. But Seattle would follow this up by losing consecutive series’ against the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays who were two teams that they were in contention with for a wild card spot in the American League. The M’s entered their final series of the season needing to sweep the A’s, while getting some help as they hoped to catch either the Blue Jays or Baltimore Orioles. The Mariners would win the first two games of the series, but they would lose a 10-inning heart breaker to Oakland this past Saturday night in spite of the Herculean efforts by designated hitter Nelson Cruz and second baseman Robinson Cano who combined to keep Seattle in the game. And as the Orioles and Blue Jays were winning, Sunday’s game for the Mariners was meaningless as they would go on to split the series with the Athletics.
The Mariners finished the season with a record of 86-76 as they were three games shy of a wild card spot. And as Seattle heads into the off-season, they must find a way to end the longest current playoff drought in Major League Baseball.
Jerry Dipoto just completed his first full season as the Mariners general manager, while the same can be said for the team’s skipper in Scott Servais. And whereas the Mariners have been close to making the postseason in the past, they cannot afford to take another step backwards.
Cano and Cruz have proven to be a solid power hitting combination in the middle of the Mariners lineup as they combined to hit 82 of the club’s 223 home runs this year. And although that Felix Hernandez is the best pitcher in Mariners team history, he was not this year as Hisashi Iwakuma led the club in wins with 16. The M’s will undoubtedly be hopeful that Hernandez will regain the form that made him the American League’s Cy Young Award winner in 2010, but this is a team that needs more depth in their lineup as well as the starting rotation if they intend on making the postseason. And with $83.4 million committed to payroll for 2017, Dipoto must go out there and make upgrades to this roster that are going to make Seattle a playoff team in 2017.
With the likes of power hitting sluggers such as Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo, and New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes expected to become free agents over the winter, the M’s need to be actively pursuing one of these big boppers in order to add depth to their lineup. Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson is set to become a free agent as well, and with a lack of quality starting pitching on the market, he could be a hot commodity. And the same can be said about Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale who showed signs over the summer of not being a happy camper in the Windy City which could lead to him being traded during the off-season.
As you look inside of the numbers the Mariners one of the best statistical teams in the American League and they need that little something extra to get them over the hump which will makes these next few months in the Pacific Northwest very interesting.