Michael Thompson: Mariners get a D grade for the 2023 season
The Mariners struck first in the offseason, acquiring Teoscar Hernandez to help get the offense close, then whiffed or sat out the rest of the offseason, when they were probably a bat short of being AL West champs. This set the tone for an offensively challenged first half of the season, that set you 10 games back of the division for much of the summer.
Because of this, leadership sold at the deadline (don't let anyone tell you differently) and put more stress on your pitching staff that had carried you. A pissed-off offense and a historic month by Julio Rodriguez turned you into the 2001 Mariners for 40 games and an AL West lead heading into September.
An incredible run that took everything to catch Houston and Texas, the final month was the consequences of their inaction. Julio cooled, and the staff ran out of gas. They missed the playoffs by 1 game and missed an AL West banner by 2 games.
Sure there are positives with JP turning into a franchise player, and the pitching staff and bullpen are absolute beasts for most of the season, but you can't in good conscience call this season a success or step forward. Ty France has fallen apart. Geno and Teo each struck out over 200 times. Kelenic was below average minus an MVP level April. The DH and 2B positions continue to haunt this franchise.
It's a good thing that Seattle was so close to a division title, but it also won't mean anything if the front office and players don't respond. Both have to get better and look for ways to improve.
The American League will probably never be as weak as it was this year, and it feels like the Seattle Mariners blew a special opportunity.