Mariners officially eliminated from playoff race

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 9: Manager Scott Servais #29 of the Seattle Mariners looks on from the dugout during the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 9, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 9: Manager Scott Servais #29 of the Seattle Mariners looks on from the dugout during the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 9, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

On the night of their most dominant win of the season, the Mariners were officially eliminated from playoff contention following a walk-off victory for the A’s.

The Mariners’ terrible run differential has been the focal point of the criticisms thrown their way. So of course they would be mathematically eliminated from the playoff race the same night they blow the Rangers out 13-0.

This now marks the 17th season in which the Mariners have missed the postseason. Honestly, this may have been the most painful playoff-less season to date.

Even after a mediocre month of June, the Mariners were seemingly running away with the second American League wild card heading into the All-Star break. But they continued to stumble, and while they continued to stumble the A’s kept winning.

Oakland’s season has been no short of a miracle. They found a lot of success from quite a few unlikely sources and built a juggernaut of a bullpen along the way. They deserve the respect they have earned and could seriously make noise in the postseason.

The Mariners, on the other hand, never seemed poised to win a single-game playoff no matter how good they were this season.

For a while, the American League only had five teams above .500, including the Mariners. Even the Indians, sitting atop the American League Central, were struggling to stay over .500. It felt as if a gift had fallen into Seattle’s collective laps and they would stroll right into the postseason for the first time since 2001.

But Oakland’s miraculous turnaround, paired with an offensive meltdown and terrible trade deadline luck, torpedoed Seattle’s playoff hopes. Yet, somehow, the Mariners may still finish the season with 90 or more wins.

In both 2002 and 2003, the Mariners finished 93-69 and missed out on the playoffs. The MLB had yet to implement the second wild card formula, which would have benefitted the Mariners at the time.

Now, if the Mariners reach the 90-win threshold, they will be the first team to accrue such a win total and miss the playoffs during the second wild card era. Of course that would happen to this organization.

The poor state of the MLB, and the American League specifically, allowed its best teams to dominate their way to high win totals. The Mariners were decent enough to take advantage of mediocre competition for the first half of the season, but they were simply not build to sustain the success needed to win 95-plus games.

Being in the American League West, a division that stars the defending champion Astros and the red-hot Athletics, is suboptimal. Many fans will point out that the Mariners would still be in the thick of things if they were in the National League, or even the American League Central for that matter.

But ask yourself this – would the Mariners be where they currently are, record-wise, had they played in the more competitive National League? My answer is no, simply based on how weak the American League has been.

For the first three months of the season, the Mariners faced the Rangers, Tigers, Angels, Blue Jays, Twins, Royals, White Sox, and Orioles 44 times and went 31-13. If the season ended today, seven of the eight teams mentioned would choose in the top 10 of next year’s MLB Amateur Draft.

Not to mention, the Mariners also had great success against the A’s, Rays, and Indians during that time, when all three teams were shells of their current self.

What it boils down to is that the Mariners were a middle-of-the-road team that was simply just not good enough to hang with the top half of the American League. Well, that and the Athletics’ run was just absurd.

So where do the Mariners go from here? We’ve thrown around a few ideas about the many roads Jerry Dipoto and his crew can go down. Whichever option they view as the most viable for their future will hopefully not revolve around standing pat. Despite a potential 90-win season this year, we do not see this current team being able to duplicate its win total in 2019.

There are just too many question marks and holes that need to be filled that weren’t during the season. Perhaps if they were, this article wouldn’t have been written, or a better, more celebratory one would have taken its place.

But the past is the past, and no one understands that better than Mariners fans. Once again, we look to the future, hopeful to witness the season we thought we were getting this year.

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The doom-and-gloom ends today, however. Stay tuned to Sodo Mojo as we begin to preview the offseason and take a look at how the Mariners can make real, significant improvements to their ballclub and find themselves a playoff berth in 2019.