MLB Betting - Can Mariners End Baseball's Longest Playoff Drought In 2017?

Seattle Mariners running in the stadium

Matthew Jordan

Friday, October 7, 2016 10:43 PM GMT

There are only eight teams in baseball currently still playing, which means 22 are planning for the 2017 season. Let's examine what offseason questions Seattle is facing. The M's are likely to be around +2500 on MLB odds to win the 2017 World Series.

 

 Recapping 2016 Season

The last time the Mariners reached the playoffs was in 2001 when they won an MLB-record 116 regular-season games and had a rookie outfielder from Japan named Ichiro Suzuki, who won AL MVP and Rookie of the Year honors. That team's best players were Ichiro and guys like Bret Boone, Edgar Martinez, John Olerud and Mike Cameron. The top pitchers were Freddy Garcia, Aaron Sele, and Jamie Moyer. Needless to say, only Ichiro is still playing. That club lost in the ALCS to the New York Yankees.

Seattle opened the 2015 season at +2500 on MLB odds at SBR's best sportsbooks to win the World Series, that's where I got the number listed above and projected to finish third in the AL West behind Houston and Texas. A wild-card spot seemed a decent possibility.

The Mariners finished second in the division at 86-76 -- 80-82 ATS behind first-year manager Scott Servais, nine games behind the Rangers. What's interesting is that Seattle's run differential of plus-61 was easily the best in the West and No. 4 in the AL. The M's finished three games out of the second AL wild-card spot. Seattle set a club record by playing in 60 one-run games, the most in MLB. The M's finished with a 30-30 record.

So what went right? Seattle's Big 3 offensive players all had very good seasons. Second baseman Robinson Cano hit .298 with 39 homers and 103 RBIs. DH Nelson Cruz batted .287 with 43 homers and 105 RBIs. And the third baseman Kyle Seager hit .278 with 30 homers and 99 RBIs. So the Mariners were just one Seager RBI short of having a rare trio of guys with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs. Seattle finished with 768 runs, third in the American League. Its 223 homers were second. But too often, the team relied on the home run and couldn't get those two-out hits with runners in scoring position.

The pitching staff was a disappointment overall with a team ERA of 4.16 that ranked 12th in the AL. That group benefits from playing at Safeco Field with its big dimensions and heavy air in the Seattle area. Ace Felix Hernandez (11-8, 3.82) had a good season but below par by his likely Hall of Fame standards and the usually durable King Felix also  missed nearly two months on the DL. Are all those innings (2,415.2) catching up to Hernandez? He will still only be 31 next April.

 

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Offseason Questions For Mariners

Seattle has failed to post back-to-back winning seasons since 2002-03 but should next year barring injury. That Cano/Cruz/Seager trio is as good as anyones. The rotation should return pretty much intact and a full season of Hernandez can only help. Maybe missing two months also is a good thing in the long run.

The Mariners don't have any major pending free agents: reliever Drew Storen, outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and first basemen Dae-Ho Lee and Adam Lind. Really no big losses there; midseason trade acquisition Dan Vogelbach from the Cubs will get every chance to take over at first base for Lind. Outfielders Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith and catcher Chris Iannetta have club options.

I do believe that Seattle will try to upgrade at shortstop The Mariners thought they had a deal with Cincinnati around the trade deadline for former All-Star shortstop Zack Cosart but that fell through. With the Reds in a full-blown rebuild, I fully expect that trade to happen. Seattle's primary shortstop, Ketel Marte, hit .259 with a homer, 33 RBIs, and 11 steals. Cosart, who ended the season on the DL, hit .252 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs in 121 games. I also expect the Mariners to add a corner outfielder either via trade or free agency. Aoki is a solid hitter for average but he shouldn't be your starting left fielder.

As currently constituted this should be about an 86-win team next year, but certainly moves will be made and that should be considered when choosing MLB picks. The Rangers and Astros are still going to be better in the AL West. 

 

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