The 2021 Seattle Mariners Will Provide Plenty of Excitement

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 29: Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners celebrates in the dugout after scoring. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 29: Kyle Seager of the Seattle Mariners celebrates in the dugout after scoring. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
The Seattle Mariners bench celebrate.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – SEPTEMBER 21: The Seattle Mariners celebrate a three-run home run. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners will be fun to watch in 2021

Being a faithful Seattle Mariners fan has been tough. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001, and it seems like the team has been cursed ever since they broke the single-season win record in 2001.

I assume many fans have given up on the Mariners, and I do not blame them. But I think 2021 will reignite your faith. Next season will be different and I think it will be a very fun season to watch. The new year is right around the corner.

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The Continued Development of Seattle Mariners Players

One of the reasons why I am excited for 2021 is the growth we will see. Many of the Mariners players made drastic improvements this past season. And because they are so young, the development should continue into next season.

Kyle Lewis, the 2020 AL ROY made some notable adjustments between 2019 and 2020. He chased at pitches less frequently in 2020. In 2019, he chased 33.7% of pitches outside the strike zone. This past season, he only chased 24.7% of pitches.

This change in mindset also decreased his strikeout percentage and increased his walk percentage. Kyle struck out 38.7% of the time in 2019 and only 29.3% in 2020. He increased his walk percentage by 10 points in 2020 as well. Imagine how much better Lewis will get in 2021.

Marco Gonzales also took a big step in 2020. He posted a career-best 3.10 ERA. In the previous season, he posted a 3.99 ERA. Marco used his cutter and sinker a little more often this year and that seemed to do the job. His change in pitch usage led to a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate. Gonzales also induced more weak contact than in 2019.

The Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford had a big 2020 season as well, winning his first Gold Glove Award. He increased his defensive success rate to 94% as opposed to his 89% in 2019. J.P. significantly increased his defensive runs saved above average from -5 to 6. His defensive WAR increased from 0.1 to 0.9.

As far as Crawford’s offensive production, he was more successful against the fastball and off-speed compared to 2019. He also increased his hard-hit percentage which is promising. Lastly, he stole 6 bases which is a career-high for him, and maybe something he will continue to improve on.

Justus Sheffield might have made the biggest changes out of all of these studs. Sheffield completely changed his pitching approach and might have taken some tips from Marco. Justus threw his 4-seam fastball 47.8% of the time in 2019, but in 2020, he only threw it 0.7% of the time. To replace his fastball, he threw a sinker. Although opposing batters hit well against his sinker, it made his slider more effective.

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2021 Seattle Mariners Call Ups

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In addition to the excitement of seeing players grow, the Seattle Mariners have several prospects lined up to play in 2021.

Jarred Kelenic is the main headline for 2021. The 9th ranked MLB prospect was crushing it at the alternate training site this past season. The 21-year-old outfielder played 21 games in Double-A in 2019, so he will most likely start 2021 in Triple-A and work his way into the MLB quickly.

Logan Gilbert who is the 35th ranked MLB prospect should also make his debut in 2021. The Stetson University product has dominated every level that he has pitched in thus far. Gilbert is an extremely well-rounded pitcher and could make an immediate impact once called up.

The former Padres prospect Taylor Trammell is another player. He is the 51st ranked MLB prospect and will be a fun player to watch. Trammell doesn’t have the pop like Kelenic does, but Trammell can run. He struggled in Double-A in 2019, so it might take him a bit longer to be called up during the season.

I am also particularly keen on Wyatt Mills who is the 23rd ranked Seattle Mariners prospect. Mills was the 93rd overall selection in 2017 and he has been okay in the minor leagues. He recently dominated in the instructional league and his low three-quarter motion could be extremely useful in the 2021 bullpen.

My Expectations for the 2021 Seattle Mariners

I think the Seattle Mariners are in a good spot to contend for a playoff spot if the MLB keeps the same playoff format as the 2020 season. The AL West has been strong over the last couple of years, but the level of competition may not be at its highest in 2021.

The Astros and Athletics will most likely not re-sign some of its top free-agents. The Rangers have added a couple of young players, but are still rebuilding. The Angels will always be decent because they have Mike Trout, but they haven’t found the right pieces around Trout to make them a good team.

So, the Mariners are actually in a pretty good spot. But, if the league reverts to just division winners and two wild cards from each league, I would not be so sure about Seattle’s playoff chances.

I think the Mariners would be happy if they finished second in the AL West next season.

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