You’re a Seattle Mariners fan, and it’s September, and you’re bored. But it’s alright, mostly, because you’ve grown accustomed to this. No playoff hopes? No problem! The NFL season starts in a week, after all, and the Seattle Seahawks are still awesome. There are worse things than a baseball team that won’t stop losing! Except wait, the Mariners just beat the Oakland Athletics today, capping a sweep and giving the M’s their fifth straight win.
It’s a season high for consecutive wins – an embarrassingly low “high,” but a high nonetheless. And that’s not all – factor in the Mariners’ .500 performance in August and you have a team that appears to be in the middle of a serious second half turnaround. While we were hurriedly not paying any attention, the Mariners were busy making something out of nothing.
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Let’s get this out of the way before we go to deep down the cheer wormhole – no, the Mariners aren’t going to make the playoffs. They’re currently 66-71. All this winning has brought them to within five games of .500! If they can follow their current five-game streak with another five-game streak, that’ll give them as many losses as wins with twenty games to play. Then they’d still be many games and many teams out of the second wild card. It could happen, buttttt… only technically.
While the Mariners haven’t done enough to resuscitate their playoff odds, they have played well enough in the second half to re-evaluate our idea of their talent. Again. All we do in baseball is evaluate over and over and over, based on the ever-expanding base of knowledge we have. Every day brings a new game, and every game brings us new information. The Mariners have brought us lots of newer, better information as of late.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this year’s Mariners team is the sheer number of passable hitters on the roster. Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Seth Smith, Franklin Gutierrez, Brad Miller, Robinson Cano, and Ketel Marte all have posted adjusted offensive totals above league average this year. The since-traded Austin Jackson and Justin Ruggiano both came close, and both Mark Trumbo and Logan Morrison are within reach of a 100 wRC+.
The Mariners, by season’s end, could conceivably be able to field an entire team of average-or-better hitters. Granted, that team would be starting Trumbo behind the plate, but the point stands: the Mariners have good hitters. Not great hitters, and not a ton of them, but they’ve quietly become a way better hitting club than anyone realized.
Can the same be said about the pitching staff? No, not at all. In fact, it’s been an improved offense driving the current streak, and nothing else. The rotation is still a few pieces shy, and the bullpen still sucks, despite tons of new names. Weird how the offense would turn out to be the legit unit. Like, so weird.
The Mariners are winning in the second half, and it’s because they suddenly have hitters. This is kind of nuts, and now that the M’s have won five in a row don’t they feel invincible? I love this feeling. Live for this feeling. Our favorite team will never lose again! Until the next time they lose, that is.
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