Seattle Mariners: A Top-5 Team in Major League Baseball?


The Seattle Mariners just sniffed David Schoenfield’s Top-5 in his ESPN MLB power rankings.

Coming in at 6th on the list, the Mariners made a number of key additions this offseason that should push them towards the postseason.

Here’s a breakdown of what Schoenfield had to say:

Big Offseason Moves:

"Signed DH/OF Nelson Cruz; acquired OF Seth Smith from the Padres for RHP Brandon Maurer; acquired OF Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs for RHP Matt Brazis; traded OF Michael Saunders to the Blue Jays for LHP J.A. Happ; signed DH/2B Rickie Weeks; lost 1B Justin Smoak and RHP Chris Young to free agency."

He doesn’t include Joe Beimel or Kendrys Morales or Chris Denorfia in the ‘lost to free agency’ section but overall the team has added by addition and subtraction. Losing Justin Smoak was by no means a loss after his recent spate of poor production.

Overall, the Mariners had a nice offseason haul, getting a power right-handed bat, setting up a right field platoon, and acquiring mid-rotation pitching depth and a potential utility-man in Weeks.

Most Intriguing Player:

Schoenfield names Nelson Cruz as his most intriguing player. Rightfully so. If Cruz managed to hit another 40 home runs in 2015, the M’s could easily win 90+ games. 40 home runs is a BIG ‘if,’ though. Cruz is a year older, and removed from a ballpark that suited his hitting.

Even though people fear Safeco and its consumptive nature of right-handed hitters, Cruz has one of the highest home run rates of any visiting right-handed hitter to Safeco Field of all-time.

Intriguing is the perfect word to describe him.

Due For A Better/Worse Year:

More from Mariners News

For a better year, Schoenfield thinks Brad Miller. If he starts, and hits, he could make the difference for the Mariners. If he struggles offensively, though, he will struggle to find playing time.

On the ‘worse year’ end of the spectrum, he names the aforementioned Cruz, and Fernando Rodney. If you’ve witnessed the Fernando Rodney Experience, you know why. He gets the save more often than not, but the process of the 9th inning has given me more heart attacks than anything else in my life.

Schoenfield then talks about Austin Jackson and his struggles. In “a league with more hard-throwers than ever,” he writes, “[Jackson] struggles against fastballs.”

That’s not a good thing if he wants to have a comeback season. He does remind us that the M’s did sign Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez to minor league deals. Stop-gap, anyone?

His Final Word:

Sep 23, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Seattle Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley (13) during batting practice before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 10-2. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Schoenfield predicts an 88-74 record for the Seattle Mariners, a 1-game improvement from 2014. This is a fair prediction, as an injury to one of the big three– Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, or Robinson Cano— could derail the entire season for the Mariners.

But, if players produce like they’re supposed to, and guys like Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino step up, it’s no great stretch to imagine a 90+ win team. Especially considering that FanGraphs has the Mariners as the best team in the American League, and 3rd in the MLB behind the Dodgers and Nationals.

All in all, the team has done nothing but improve its weaknesses this offseason. So, as long as there isn’t any crazy regression, the team should at the very least match their win total from 2014, and find themselves in the postseason for the first time in 14 long years.