Sep 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcherFelix Hernandez
(34) pitches to the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Starting Pitching WAR: 12.0:
This projection for the Mariners is tied for the 2nd-highest in baseball with the Cleveland Indians and behind the stellar rotation of the Washington Nationals.Felix Hernandez alone accounted for over half the 2015 projection last season (with a 6.2 WAR). Even if Felix comes down to earth and only manages a 5.0 WAR, and Hiashi Iwakuma provides another 3.0+ WAR performances, the M’s would only need a collective 4.0 WAR from the 3-4-5 in the rotation. In only 74.0 innings pitched James Paxton accounted for 1.3 WAR last season. Double his innings and it’s fair to expect 2.0 WAR out of him in 2015. Roenis Elias had 1.3 WAR in over 150 innings pitched. And, assuming Taijuan Walker isn’t traded, it’s reasonable enough to expect a 1.2-1.5 WAR contribution from him next season (Steamer projects him at 1.2 for 2015).
Even putting those numbers together gets roughly 12.5 WAR from the rotation. The Mariners could easily out perform these numbers if the youngsters keep performing or if the M’s get a free agent starting pitcher. But at the same time be wary, because the overwhelming youth of the rotation could at the same time be it’s undoing.
Relief Pitching WAR: 2.1:
The highest relief pitching WAR projection by Steamer is 4.o for the Kansas City Royals. By nature, bullpens are one of the most volatile things in baseball. Even just combining Fernando Rodney‘s (1.2) and Danny Farquhar‘s (0.9) WARs from 2014 would reach this Steamer projection. Not to mention the positive work by Domonic Leone and Carson Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen and Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush.
This bullpen could easily be worth the rough 3.7 WAR it was in 2014, but again, with it’s youth and the inconsistencies of bullpens, it could be worth 1.0 WAR as well.
So what is there to get out of all these WAR numbers besides interesting anecdotes? On paper, the Mariners have a team that ought to be respected. With key additions in the weakest links, this team could be one built for the playoffs on pitching and defense.
Add it all up and the Mariners are projected to be worth 39.3 WAR in 2015. That’s definitely something worth paying attention to.
WAR is not an absolute indicator of player and team success, but it does lend itself to the quality of play by players. If these WAR projections do become indicators of the Mariners’ 2015 season, expect October baseball in the Pacific Northwest.