Don’t look now, but the Seattle Mariners are pretty good.
How good? Good enough that the Mariners are again in the hunt for the Wild Card. Good enough that the M’s are actually rallying to beat good teams like the Kansas City Royals.
How are the Mariners accomplishing this? The numbers can be interpreted a variety of different ways, and there is not necessarily one stat that is making the difference.
However, run differential does stand out this season.
The Mariners have given up the fourth fewest runs in all of baseball (264), which is not surprising when Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma are at the top of your rotation. Not surprising, the Oakland A’s have given up the fewest (254), but that could change in the future.
Seattle does not exactly have an amazing offense, but it has been much more prolific than in previous years. What this has resulted in is a run differential of +39 for the season.
That run differential is tied for fifth in the league, which may have contributed a great deal to the 40-36 record. Granted, the A’s have a +135 run differential, but we’ll just pretend that doesn’t exist right now.
Now, a positive run differential is not required to win consistently. The New York Yankees are percentage points ahead of the Mariners at 39-35, but they have a -30 run differential in 2014.
A positive run differential helps, but it also helps to score at least 1-2 runs when someone like King Felix pitches. Just saying.
For now, this is a positive statistic and it seems to be leading to good results. Score runs. Don’t give up any. Simple, right?