Seattle Mariners: 2017 Season Review and Offseason Preview

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images /
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Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images /

The Seattle Mariners had another disappointing season that ended without a postseason berth for a 16th year, but can they compete in 2018?

The Seattle Mariners have developed a pattern over the last five years. Starting with the 2013 season, they’ve won 71, 87, 76, 86, and 78 games. When they won 87 games in 2014, they finished just a single game behind the Oakland A’s for the second wild card spot. When they won 86 games last year, they were three games out of the second wild card spot.

So they’ve been close to the playoffs a couple times recently but, as every Mariner fan knows, they haven’t actually made the playoffs since 2001, which was Ichiro Suzuki’s rookie year. It’s the longest playoff drought in baseball. They’ve also never made the World Series. Only the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals have a longer streak without making the Fall Classic.

Coming off their 86-win season in 2016, the Mariners were expected to be in the thick of the wild card race this year. Sports Illustrated picked them to win 88 games and the take second wild card spot. Baseball Prospectus had them winning 86 games and the first wild card spot. Fangraphs was less optimistic, predicting the Mariners would win 83 games, but that put them just a game out of the second wild spot. The potential was there.

Then, even before the season started, the Mariners lost Drew Smyly for the season with elbow surgery. Reliever Shea Simmons and utilityman Shawn O’Malley were placed on the 60-Day DL at the end of March. Right fielder Mitch Haniger, reliever Evan Scribner and the expected number one starter, Felix Hernandez, hit the DL in late April. Another starting pitcher, James Paxton, went down in early May.

This is how the season went for Seattle. They ended up using a major league record 40 pitchers. Their starting pitchers finished with 6.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR, per Fangraphs), which was 25th of the 30 teams in baseball. They didn’t have a single starting pitcher throw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and only three pitched more than 100 innings.

Despite the pitching woes, after winning three straight against the Texas Rangers in mid-September, the Mariners were 74-73 and within 3.5 games of the second wild card spot. There was hope in the Emerald City. Then they lost six straight games to the Astros and Rangers and their hopes were dashed. The Wicked Witch of the West had won. After being a game over .500 with about two weeks to go in the season, they ended the year on a 4-11 skid and finished six games below .500.

Mariner fans were once again disappointed by the team’s inability to make the playoffs, but there’s enough talent here to be competitive again in 2018. Let’s look at what went right, what went wrong, and the top offseason needs for the Seattle Mariners.