Despite the past weekend's sweep at the hands of the Angels, there’s no denying the Mariners have been one of the MLB's early surprises this season. Here's what the rest of the nation thinks of the M's.
As much as the three-game sweep at the hands of the Angels stings, Mariners fans should at least consider one thing:
Last season at this juncture, the Mariners were 17-20, in third place in the AL West and already seven-and-a-half games out of first place. Even with Sunday’s loss dropping Seattle out of first place for the first time since May 2, the Mariners hit the road 21-16 overall.
Will the good times last? The bullpen’s implosion on Friday and Saturday certainly give reason for pause. But there’s no denying the Mariners have been one of the early-season surprises in Major League Baseball this season, and have given Seattle fans reason to enjoy their local team again.
They’ve also started to gain some traction nationally. Here’s a sampling of recent national-media reaction about the Mariners:
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FiveThirtyEight.com‘s MLB predictions page is currently giving the Mariners a 55 percent chance to make the playoffs, a 41 percent chance to win the division and (ahem) a five percent chance to win the World Series. All are the best odds of any AL West team.
The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin said the excitement over the Mariners is palpable in Seattle:
“The Seattle Mariners are the not-so-proud owners of baseball’s longest postseason drought. The Mariners last got into the playoffs in 2001, when Ichiro Suzuki was a rookie at an old 27 and Jamie Moyer a 20-game winner at a young 38. The Mariners have had twice as many managers as winning seasons since then. They have new leadership again this year, in General Manager Jerry Dipoto and Manager Scott Servais. … But this roster is more balanced than star-studded; the Mariners rank in the league’s top five in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, ERA among starters, and ERA among relievers.”
Meg Rowley, writing for Vice Sports, seemed pleasantly stunned by the Mariners’ early good fortune:
“It was bound to happen at some point. Mount Saint Helens hasn’t erupted again. Seattle hasn’t fallen into the sea because of the Big One, and for the moment they still play organized baseball there. The Mariners have new leadership, and a bunch of new players, and after years of bad teams and failed prospects, and institutional entropy … well, it’s hard to believe, but the Mariners appear to be good.”
CBSSports.com’s Matt Snyder had the Mariners third in his weekly MLB power rankings that he posted last Wednesday:
“They have already wasted seven prime Felix Hernandez seasons, two giant-salaried prime Robinson Cano years, MVP-caliber offensive numbers from Nelson Cruz last season and more. … (But this year,) Cano is playing like an MVP and there are many other bright spots. … Taijuan Walker is having his much-anticipated breakout season while Nate Karns is under the radar and throwing the ball well. The offense is getting on base and hitting for power, but there’s actually room for improvement.”
Tyler Kepner of The New York Times reflected on Hernandez becoming the Mariners’ all-time winningest pitcher:
“It is rare for a player of Hernandez’s stature to go so long without appearing in the playoffs. Only five active pitchers have more career victories than Hernandez: the Mets’ Bartolo Colon, the Yankees’ C. C. Sabathia, the Chicago Cubs’ John Lackey, Detroit’s Justin Verlander and San Francisco’s Jake Peavy. All have made the playoffs in at least four different seasons, and all have pitched in the World Series.”
Earlier this month, ESPN’s David Schoenfield was marveling at his favorite baseball team in the wake of the Mariners’ sweep in Oakland:
“There a lot of positive vibes coming from Seattle. A new front office, with Jerry Dipoto and new manager Scott Servais, is more analytically minded than the old regime, so the Mariners are shifting a lot more and trying to emphasize getting on base instead of just hitting home runs. It will be interesting to see what kind of moves Dipoto looks to make if Seattle stays in this thing.”
ESPN’s One Nacion blog wrote about how some Yankees fans are missing Cano this season:
“He still has some ties to the New York area, and his recent tweet of a hair care sponsorship deal from a New York company got some Yankees fans nostalgic for the days when Cano wore pinstripes. No doubt some of the frustration stems from now much New York is struggling this season. While the Mariners (have been near the top of) the American League West division, the Yankees are dead last in the AL East.”