The Seattle Mariners snapped a 5 game losing streak with a dominating 7-2 win in Boston. The win gets Seattle back 17 games over .500. So why are so many fans wanting to be angry?
Based on my experience with social media, the idea is that the recent 5 games losing streak proves the Mariners cannot compete with the “big boys”. The Big Boys group includes the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros.
Like many ridiculous claims, there is a kernel of truth in this statement. The Mariners are 2-4 against the Astros. They are 0-3 against the Yankees. And 3-3 against the Red Sox. I’m not gonna tell you that a 5-10 record is good. I am going to tell you that it really doesn’t matter.
But let’s go down this crazy train track and dig deeper. The Mariners lost 2 winnable games against the Yankees. The 3-3 record against Boston feels true. After all, the Mariners could easily be 5-1 against the Sox. So, of course, they could be 1-5. But none the less, Seattle has battled with both the Yankees and Red Sox.
Even if you want to use this small sample size to justify comparing 2 good teams (you shouldn’t) you should acknowledge that Seattle hasn’t exactly been embarrassed against these 2 teams.
Houston is a different story. But we still have 13 games to go against the Astros, and the record against them isn’t all that relevant in the playoffs. Why? If Houston wins the division, the Mariners could not face them until the ALCS.
However, focusing on these 3 opponents is unfair to Seattle. It ignores the 5-2 mark against the AL Central-leading Indians. It ignores a 4-2 mark against the Wild Card contenders Angels. And it ignores a 5-1 mark against reigning Wild Card game participant, the Minnesota Twins.
Of course, there are other factors that are better indicators than head to head. An honest look at the Mariners roster should come to the conclusion that they are not as good as the ” Big 3″. However, is the difference substantial? Surprisingly, no.
Besides this, it is June 24th. It is impossible to state how large a talent gap will be on October 1st on this date. There are too many variables to consider. Trades, callups, injuries, and hot/cold streaks will all play a factor in a “talent gap” in the playoffs.
Finally, a popular argument is that the Mariners will likely lose a 1 game playoff series anyway, so why spend resources for an early exit. Let’s break down the lunacy of this statement, shall we?
First, there is value to ending a 16-year playoff drought, even if it is for 1 game. Re-energizing your fan base is valuable. A playoff appearance on a resume is valuable when talking to free agents. And of course, there is the value of making the freaking playoffs.
Second, anything can happen in a 1 game playoff. Over the course of 162 games, Boston or New York is probably a better team. In a 1 game playoff, it is a true coin toss. James Paxton can match up with almost anybody. Any pitcher can have a bad game, and it doesn’t just apply to Mariners.
Anything can happen in a single baseball game. As evidence, I site Wade LeBlanc throwing a 2-hit shutout against the Red Sox. Then, a week later, he got lit up in 4 2/3 innings against the same team. Saying that the Mariners can’t beat the Yankees or Red Sox on any given day is simply moronic.
Finally, we have watched Wild Card teams advance quite far in the playoffs in recent memory. Last year, the Yankees went from the one-game playoff to game 7 of the ALCS. In 2016, it was Toronto who reached the ALCS after winning the Wild Card game. In 2015, the Cubs did the same. And in 2014, the Royals went from Wild Card participant to game 7 of the World Series.
Making the playoffs makes you a World Series contender. If you are one of the 5 AL teams left standing in October, you can be the last one standing in the season.
The idea that Mariners shouldn’t put there best foot forward to make the playoffs is absurd. Almost as absurd as the idea that Seattle cannot defeat other playoff teams. Seattle is a good baseball team. I’ll take my chances.