The Seattle Mariners Are Fine, Maybe


To say that the first ten games of the Seattle Mariners’ 2015 season have been a disaster is an undeniable overstatement. Yet at the same time it’s only appropriate, seeing as the M’s entered the year with sky-high expectations and are currently sporting the American League’s worst record. Two weeks ago all the talk was about the impending Mariners-Nationals World Series. Now the Mariners have three wins and seven losses.

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What’s gone wrong? What’s gone right is probably a better question to ask, if only because the answer is much shorter. Nelson Cruz, for one! Nelson Cruz leads the league in long balls, and he hit all of them in a five-game stretch. Dustin Ackley‘s been great. Several of the relievers have been fine, and Felix Hernandez is still Felix Hernandez.

That leaves a lot to be desired, of course, and it’s worth noting how many of the projected big contributors have been zeroes, if not outright negatives. Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton have turned in duds, and Fernando Rodney‘s ninth inning shennanigans have just about gotten out of control (pun intended). In fact, lots of Mariners pitchers right now are walking too many and striking out too few. But that hasn’t even been the team’s biggest problem.

Logan Morrison has had two home runs robbed: one by Mike Trout on opening day and another by Shin-Soo Choo last night. Maybe give him those and his season doesn’t look like the worst thing ever. But they weren’t homers, and what we have here is a big first baseman who’s doing nothing at the plate. As far as dead weight goes, LoMo’s been the biggest culprit thus far.

He’s not alone, though, as the team’s getting less than nothing from the bats of Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Austin Jackson, Rickie Weeks, and Justin Ruggiano. Not to mention the fact that stars Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano are right there with them. With Cano and Seager, we have every reason to believe the bats will come around. As for the rest of them…

Look, the last couple weeks have been tough. Maybe you look at those six hitters up there who are doing nothing and realize before the season begins that all six have the potential to be above-average contributors. We’ve all got an overly positive view of things before the season starts, and maybe we even expect all of Zunino/Miller/Jackson/Weeks/Ruggiano/Morrison to hit, and hit often. In reality, this never happens.

What happens if even three of those guys start to hit? The offense gets a huge boost. If they all hit, great, you’ve got an easy playoff team. These guys are the make-or-breaks. The Mariners can realistically expect Seager, Cano, Iwakuma, and Paxton to be much better. With everyone else, there’s the risk that they simply don’t turn it on.

The M’s are basically getting worse-than-expected results from everyone, all at once. That’s why they’ve won three of their first ten games. But these things don’t keep up. That was just ten games – they’re going to play 152 more of those, you know. One hundred and fifty-two! That’s so many games!

Don’t freak out. Don’t proclaim the Mariners dead. Just… we’ve been issued a harsh reminder, which is that not every bounceback candidate bounces back, not every breakout candidate breaks out, not every steady contributor stays that way. Players will perform differently than we’re expecting them to perform. Happens to everyone. It’s just happening to the Mariners in a particularly painful manor right now.

The 2015 Seattle Mariners should be okay. They aren’t too different now than the team we thought they’d be a few weeks ago, when spring training was still underway. These two weeks of results aren’t any more of less telling than any other random two week sample would be. Which is to say, they’re not telling at all.