Mariners’ Offense: A Look Back, A Look Ahead
Okay. So, if you are the current Mike Zunino batting average (.069) percent of the Mariners’ fan base populous who haven’t been paying attention to this “restructuring” 2019 ball club, you’re missing quite the offensive performance.
Through the first baker’s dozen games of the season, this team has by far surpassed my expectations. How could a team that traded all of their All-Stars play this well? The Mariners are either lucky or Jerry Dipoto is an unaccredited genius.
Honestly, if someone told me that the Mariners would host the Boston Red Sox and take 3 of 4, and run the scores up on Boston’s aces, I–a diehard M’s fan–would have laughed at you and questioned your knowledge of baseball or Mariners’ history. Well, it happened.
If you would have told me during Spring Training that the Mariners would eventually be 11-2, nearly 13-0 sans bullpen and defensive collapses, breaking all sorts of franchise home run, hit, and runs scored records, plus lead the MLB in the same categories, I would probably say something like, “Yeah I remember my first time having a beer too.”
But it has happened. And it has a lot of us, MLB, and the Sports Network going “WTF?”–which stands for Waaay’ over The Fence, of course.
Throughout the various channels of social media, news outlets, and good ole’ Reddit, you will find a ton of optimism. With that, comes even more skepticism, and of course, the trolls. The Mariners, since 2001, have pretty much tanked. Even though 2001 was a great season, the tools were there to go to the World Series, but they did not.
The Mariners have been the franchise of disappointment–at least since I was able to understand the game about 30 years ago. So, a lot of us fans, you and me, do not like to get our hopes up because we always get let down. It’s like the girl or boyfriend who breaks up with you but keeps wanting to get back together. At some point, you just put up more defenses until you see real change. The same applies with the Mariners–as it did with the Seahawks.
It’s early right now. 13 games into the season are hardly enough to determine the success of the 2019 campaign. However, the Mariners were supposed to win 65 games this year, right? Well, they’re a win away from being 20% of the way to 65 with 90% of the season left.
After looking over the last 13 games, I took a deeper dive into the competition the Mariners have been facing–primarily the pitching. Oakland pitchers combined for an ERA of 4.14 which is 10th in the American League.
Boston and Chicago have ERAs of 6.35 and 6.72 to round out the bottom two ERAs in the AL. The Angels pitching staff have a combined ERA of 3.93 which is 9th in the league. Kansas City is 13th in the AL with an ERA of 6.14. Ball clubs, other than the Mariners have been knocking around these teams.
This means that the Mariners haven’t faced any of the top-5 pitching staffs (Tampa, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto, and Houston) in the American League yet this season. To put it simply: there are 15 teams in the American League. They have faced-off against #9, #10, #13, #14, and #15 pitching staffs–the bottom two-thirds.
What does this mean? Well, I think it is too early to say the Mariners are “really good” since they haven’t played any teams that are clicking at the moment. The teams they have played thus far currently hold sub-.500 records. I believe the true test lies ahead when they face off against Houston and Cleveland at home next week.
If the offense has enough success against these two pitching staffs, then I will believe the numbers are not inflated and this ball club is a serious contender. However, if they cannot continue to attack offensively against these two ball clubs, then I think there will be something to worry about.
Mariners defense and relief pitching worry me at this current moment. The Mariners HAVE to score a ton of runs to compete in games. If they cannot score runs against a top-tier pitching staff, plus a shaky bullpen, then I don’t see this team winning a whole lot of games against actual competitors.
Am I excited about what I’ve seen so far? Absolutely. I haven’t seen the Mariners have this much fun in a very long time. I haven’t had this much fun watching them play in a very long time. Will they come back down to earth? I think so. Do I want them to? Heck no! I like what I’m seeing offensively and with the starting rotation.
As I said, we’re only 10% of the way into the season. I’m hoping for the continued success of this team and I really do hope they continue to tee off against all pitching.
Why? Because we will get another Cable Thanos video. That’s the real motivation.