The Mariners Ceiling for 2022: Dawn Of A New Era

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 01: A fan holds a sign during the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels at T-Mobile Park on October 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 01: A fan holds a sign during the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels at T-Mobile Park on October 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

We had a feeling, didn’t we? Mariners fans have experienced only 34 postseason games in their 46-year history of professional baseball. It seems like every time we get close to a chance…a real chance at sustained success and glory… disappointment follows.

This year though, this year felt different. The signing of Robbie Ray, the trades for 3 all-star potential hitters, and the chance for youth to seize their moment.

Mariners fans had hoped and prayed for some sort of continuation of the magic and fun that the 2021 Seattle Mariners had brought them. Hopefully, a little taste of playoff baseball to help break a certain “streak” too. They got so much more than they could have imagined.

This is the Seattle Mariners 2022 season, if we hit the Ceiling.

“Aaaaannnddd we go to the top of the 9th inning here in Chicago. Brian Anderson here along with Ron Darling and Jeff Francoeur, ALCS Game 7 on TBS. What a series and what a game. Both teams are undefeated at home in this series. The top-seeded White Sox, thanks to Madison Bumgarner’s seven shutout innings, have the Sox up 3-0 and three outs away from the World Series. But these magical Mariners, these young ‘Wild Boys’ of the Pacific Northwest. Do they have any more magic left in the tank?”

After having Opening Day postponed due to bad weather, Mariner fans were already getting a familiar taste of disappointment. Robbie Ray’s seven shutout innings and a 9-0 win the next day, changed the feelings real quick. The Mariners would continue to win in dominating fashion, leading to a 35-24 start heading into June.

The lineup was good. J.P. Crawford continued to show he’s the best defensive shortstop in baseball while continuing to get better as a hitter. Haniger would reach the 40 home run milestone this season while providing the fire and leadership this team needed. Ty France, healthy for a full season, would win the batting title while continuing to be stellar at first base. Abraham Toro became the best bench player in all of baseball.

Mariners Ty France
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – SEPTEMBER 27: Ty France #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with teammates after scoring in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at T-Mobile Park on September 27, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

As great as the returning class was, it was the fresh faces of the lineup that put this team in a different class. Adam Frazier continued his hot spring, showing that Seattle acquired the Pittsburgh version of him rather than the San Diego one. Jesse Winker continued to show he is one of the best hitters in the game, while Suarez would give fans 34 “Good Vibes” bombs this season.

The real treat was getting to watch Kelenic and Julio play every day. The Julio Rodriguez hype was wild, but what was even wilder, is he backed it up! After a modest first half of the season from the top prospect in baseball, he would catch fire and look like not just one of the best prospects, but the best players in all of baseball. A unanimous rookie of the year award was never in doubt after July.

Kelenic was no Robin to this Batman, building his own superhero image. Smacking 33 home runs, 30 doubles, and raising his batting average by almost 70 points, Kelenic was an all-star, and proved his growth was vital to the Mariners’ success.

Paired together, Julio and Kelenic look like one of the best duos in baseball, for years to come.

Seattle Mariners prospects Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic look on.
DENVER, CO – JULY 11: Jarred Kelenic #14 and Julio Rodriguez #3 of American League Futures Team and Seattle Mariners look on. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

“And that’s ball four to Winker. So Liam Hendrick walks the leadoff batter on four pitches with 2 outs in the 9th. That will bring Mitch Haniger to the plate. Haniger, with rumors of a 4-year extension already locked up, steps to the plate. He’s been their best hitter in these playoffs. He hit the walk-off grand slam to sweep the Astros in the Wild Card Series. He hit two home runs in their four-game ALDS victory over the Blue Jays. He’s got three home runs in this series…first pitch…and that ball is smoked down the third baseline! Winker to second and heading to third. He’ll be held up. Haniger with a two-out double and the Mariners aren’t dead yet!”

At the all-star break, the Mariners and Astros were tied at 54-39. The Mariners would send 3 hitters to Los Angeles for the mid-summer classic, with Winker, Haniger, and Kelenic getting the call.

The pitching was not forgotten. Robbie Ray would make his first all-star game since 2017. Ray would go on to finish 2nd in the AL Cy Young voting. Joining him in LA was fellow starter Logan Gilbert, looking like a franchise cornerstone starter, and bullpen ace Paul Sewald. Sewald was the face of the most dominant bullpen in all of baseball.

While many had hoped Seattle could acquire some more talent at the deadline, Jerry Dipoto continued to build this team his way, and the team stood pat, and the squad responded. While many thought the Astros would eventually separate themselves from Seattle, it was the Mariners that flipped the script, staying hot and pulling away in the final week of the season.

On October 2nd, the M’s bashed the lowly Athletics 12-5, clinching their first playoff berth in 21 years. The celebration felt more like a long emotional sigh of relief. Two nights later, the celebration kicked up a few notches, as Matt Brash and the bullpen combined for a shutout, and Julio Rodriguez’s moon shot in the 8th inning gave the M’s a 2-0 win, a 95 win season, an AL West title, and the biggest party we’ve ever seen at T-Mobile Park.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – OCTOBER 02: Mitch Haniger #17 and Tom Murphy #2 of the Seattle Mariners react after beating the Los Angeles Angels 6-4 at T-Mobile Park on October 02, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – OCTOBER 02: Mitch Haniger #17 and Tom Murphy #2 of the Seattle Mariners react after beating the Los Angeles Angels 6-4 at T-Mobile Park on October 02, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

“And that’s strike 2. So a 2-2 count and Chicago has Kelenic and the Mariners down to their last strike. This stadium is shaking, the fans can feel it! The 2-2 pitch…that’s a hit going the other way to left! In to score is Winker, Haniger is coming around third and the throw to the plate is way off! Kelenic is gonna get to second base on the overthrow! These kids just don’t give up, and the Mariners now trail 3-2.”

The Mariners had finally done it. They not only passed the Astros for the division title, but they buried the dirt in their grave, sweeping Houston in the Wild Card Series. The end of one era became the dawn of another.

Heading north of the border to take on the mighty offense of the 99-win Toronto Blue Jays, Robbie Ray and the M’s silence the bats in game 1, winning 3-1. The M’s would fall in game two, before dominating at home in both game 3 and 4, advancing to the ALCS.

Taking on the 101 win and heavy American League favorite Chicago White Sox, Seattle looked completely overmatched in Chicago, falling behind 2 games to none. Heading back to Seattle, T-Mobile was rocking as Marco Gonzalez went toe-to-toe with AL Cy Young winner Lucas Giolito for 8 innings each. As the game went scoreless into the 11th inning, Mitch Haniger kept Mariner nation’s hopes alive with a walk-off home run that banged off the left field foul pole.

The newfound hope brought the silent offense back to life in games 4 and 5. Julio and Winker would be the catalysts, as the M’s outslugged the White Sox, 14-9 and 8-7 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. As the Mariners headed back to Chicago, they left Seattle knowing they’d never been this close to the Fall Classic…ever.

After arriving back in the Windy City, the White Sox pitching woke up in game 6, spoiling Robbie Ray’s chance at clinching with a 4-1 win. Game 7 to go to the World Series was tomorrow night. Was there a little magic left?

“I don’t know if there’s anyone else the Mariners would rather have at than plate here than Julio Rodriguez. 9th inning, two outs, Kelenic on second. The White Sox are trying to hold on to a 3-2 lead here in game 7 of the ALCS. Hendricks gets the sign, and the first pitch…is a line drive base hit into center field! They’re gonna wave Kelenic home. Luis Robert up with the ball, it’s gonna be a play at the plate…THEY GOT HIM! THEY GOT HIM! THE WHITE SOX WIN THE PENNANT!”

It may not have been the greatest season in Mariners history, but it sure felt like it. Yes, the Mariners came up just short of going to the World Series, but they stood up to the elites of baseball. They ended the Astros reign of terror, they silenced the loud bats of Toronto, and they took the World Series champs to the very brink.

It hurts, but this is a pain the Mariners and their fans have not felt in ages. It’s a different kind of pain, a good pain. The Mariners are close…so close. We got that stupid monkey off our backs, we played in 13 postseason games, and we went 7-0 at home in the postseason! We have Noevli Marte ready to go next season. The Mariners are going to get home-field advantage, and they’re going to finish the job, and I don’t just mean an AL Championship.

Next. Five Bold Mariners Predictions for the 2022 MLB season. dark

“Welcome Back Baseball…Welcome Back”

The Mariners won back our hearts this season. They made us remember what Dave Neihaus once reminded us, “You don’t grip a baseball…A baseball grips you.” The 2022 Seattle Mariners gripped us. They went to places we didn’t even think were possible. The Mariners tasted champagne and playoff success in 2022. In 2023, they’re bringing some hardware and a parade back to Seattle.