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The Red Sox went from worst to first in 2013. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Mariners: Chances For Making Playoffs

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It appears, at least on the surface, that the cast of characters the Seattle Mariners have will the be the ones they head into Spring Training with. So it begs the question: Can this team make the playoffs?

While there are a number of things that will contribute to whether or not this team makes the playoffs, statistical analysis and current trends tend to tell the story.

First, let’s look at the trends. Has there been a team in the past 10 years to lose 71 or more games one year and make the playoffs the next?

Let’s begin by looking at how many teams won 71 or fewer games since 2003 (not counting 2013, because we don’t know yet how the teams will do in 2014).

2003- 9 teams
2004- 9 teams
2005- 6 teams
2006- 6 teams
2007- 6 teams
2008- 5 teams
2009- 7 teams
2010- 7 teams
2011- 6 teams
2012- 7 teams

So, over the past decade, a team has won 71 or fewer games 68 times. Of those 68 times, how many teams improved their record the next year?

2004- 8 of 9
2005- 6 of 9
2006- 4 of 6
2007- 5 of 6
2008- 4 of 6
2009- 2 of 5
2010- 5 of 7
2011- 7 of 7
2012- 5 of 6
2013- 4 of 7

So of the 68 teams, 50 teams (73.5%) improved the next year. And of those teams, only seven made the playoffs the following year.

Four of those seven were in the past three years – two this past year, including the World Champion Boston Red Sox who won 69 games in 2012 and 97 in 2013.

So only seven teams made the playoffs, but how many teams made a significant jump (from 71 or fewer wins to at least a .500 record)?

13

19.1% of all teams to win 71 or fewer games in a season over the past decade went on to a .500 record or better in the next season. With that stat alone, I give the Mariners a 4:1 chance of having a .500 record in 2014. I give them 10:1 odds for making the playoffs.

It’s worth noting that the Mariners finished with 71 or fewer wins in five of those past 10 seasons (not counting 2013) and improved to .500 or better once (61 wins in 2008 and 85 wins in 2009).

Now let’s look at statistical evidence.

Assuming no injuries and assuming increases in performance from last year’s younger players, the team could score between 700 and 800 runs (which is a HUGE improvement). For the sake of this example, I’m using info from Fangraphs to assume 750 runs scored and 614 runs allowed.

Using Bill James‘ Pythagorean Theorem of baseball, the Mariners should finish the 2014 season with 97 wins. Now this number will change as the roster is finalized to reflect minor league moves and any additional signings that may be made.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that the run projections are accurate.

Over the past 10 years, here is the Mariners’ win total compared to the expected total. (WE= Wins expected, AW= Actual wins, Diff= Difference)

Year    WE  AW  Diff
2004    68    63    -5
2005    75    69    -6
2006    77    78    +1
2007    79    88    +9
2008    66    61    -5
2009    75    85    +10
2010    57    61    +4
2011    65    67    +2
2012    77    75    -2
2013    66    71    +5

So over the past 10 years, the Mariners have won more than their run differential indicates they should six times by an average of 5.1 wins. The four years where they lost more than expected, they lost an average of 4.5 games more than expected.

So nothing can really be derived from this. The runs scored and allowed predictions are just that….predictions. But if they can actually be on pace for 97 wins expected, whether they get five more or four less, it should produce a visit to the playoffs.

But remember, this is all best case scenario. I will revisit these numbers when I make my annual MLB predictions in March. But the numbers and the trends are both in favor of this team at least making it to .500 in 2014.

Would that be good enough for Mariners fans this year?

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