Seattle Mariners, Home Runs, and …..?
By Josh Maduell
The 2019 Mariners home run barrage shows no signs of stopping. Their current mark is a whopping 56 bombs through their first 25 contests. They’re so far ahead of the pack that the next closest team is the NL champion Dodgers with 44. But should we be concerned?
This unexpected power surge from the Mariners has been nothing short of entertaining. But it feels like that’s all the offense is doing and there’s more to a team’s offense than long balls. The multi-base home runs don’t count since those are clutch and a productive home run. But when are we going to see more extra-base hits into the gap?
If we go to the last homestand, the offense was bleak for the final five games. Game one of the Astros series was on the bullpen but for the remaining portion, the hitting fell asleep. There was still excitement since the home run streak lasted all the way until the Indians series finale.
So hopefully that losing streak didn’t show that unless the Mariners hit home run derby every game, they’ll lose.
The Mariners are off to an amazing start as they still hold the league’s best record. But if we want the success to continue the offense will need to show more variety and muster up more than just several home runs per game.
Teams like the Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox have power as well but they also make their living on hits that clear the bases. The ball won’t always leave the park and if that’s the case, you need to resort to alternative methods of scoring.
As fun as this past series win at the rival Angels was, the team showed concerns if you looked closely. In that slugfest 11-10 win, Omar Narvaez and Ryon Healy combined for three home runs. In fairness to both, all three were productive (there were men on). Therefore they count as the best possible RBI hit.
But if we want our team to play better small ball, five hitters did nothing with the bases juiced and a chance to officially ice things. They combined for three strikeouts, one pop out, and a groundout. When they really had Angels pitching on the ropes, they choked and put up measly at-bats. They didn’t balance out the chippy hits from the home runs, that’s what gets you into the playoffs.
If we’re talking about the most important statistic of winning, the Mariners’ three out of four series win was fun and impressive. After not deserving to win most of Thursday’s game, they somehow mustered away and that was huge.
But again the offense didn’t switch things up from just home runs. Despite winning two of the final three games last weekend, most of the runs came off eight solo blasts.
Home runs are fun but also low-percentage in the long run and the Mariners can’t become a team that solely lives and dies by the long ball. Remember how the 2018 team lived and died by the one-run win?
Well eventually they couldn’t sustain that and their negative run differential was exposed. The 2019 team needs to become known for more than one statistic. They need to work on clearing the bases or getting that runner in from third and less than two outs with a sac fly.
At this rate, the Mariners will likely end up with home runs aplenty by season’s end. But for other fans hungry to end this drought, it’s the clutch, small-ball hits that should matter most at the end of the day. And with all this in mind, holding MLB’s best record in late April is pretty cool.