Why the Mariners' Postseason Chances are Legit This year
In the history of Seattle professional sports (not including Major League Soccer), the Seahawks won their only Super Bowl in 2013 and the former Seattle Supersonics won their only NBA Finals title in 1979. But the one team that goes mainly unnoticed due to minimal Postseason success is the Mariners. They won the AL West and went to the ALCS in 1995 and 2000, but lost to the Indians and Yankees. The next year in 2001 however would be the Mariners' most historic season in franchise history as they would tie the 1906 Cubs for a major league record in wins with 116-46. But for the third time they would fail to win the AL Pennant as they would lose to the Yankees once again in the ALCS 4-1. Since the historic 2001 season with baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki, nothing has been the same as the Mariners would record only 5 winning seasons including three losing seasons with 100 losses or more. This year however, there is reason to give Mariners fans a resurrection of Postseason hope.
This season, the Mariners have come out of the American League as a surprise Postseason sleeper team against very competitive squads in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros. Speaking of Houston, the Mariners are the next best team to take the division as the AL West race has come so close with the lowest number of games back of the Astros this season being a half game. As of now, the Mariners are 1.5 games behind Houston for the division, and it does not look like this race is over quite yet.
The Mariners' success this season has come at a good time as we are less than 2 weeks away from the All-Star Break in Washington. What are the elements of their success as of late you may ask? Allow me to explain. The first part in the Mariners' success as of late is their All-Star caliber infield with Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz, and Dee Gordon. Most of the offensive firepower seen from Seattle is produced by Cano and Cruz with a .825 and a team high .922 OPS for Cruz respectively. But the dynamic duo can also score runs too as Nelson Cruz ties a team season high with Kyle Seager for 53 RBI's and 76 RBI's combined with Cano. And why not add a third ingredient to this recipe for success in Kyle Seager who has been the cherry on top of this tasty Seattle sundae.
In terms of Postseason standings, the Mariners are in the second AL Wild Card spot and 2.5 games behind the Yankees for a one-game-playoff at Safeco Field. They are 7 games ahead of the next closest team, the Oakland Athletics. Their pace in this AL Wild Card Race has been where it needs to be going into Washington; that and also coming off of their best win streak of the season and the best win streak in the majors at 8 games before losing to the Angels 7-4 in the second game of a 3 game series has helped them cement their Postseason status as a contender which in turn, has made them relevant once again for a new generation of baseball fans in Seattle.
For some baseball analysts and experts, not a single one of them predicted Seattle to have a good season. But as we head into the halfway point of the season, the Mariners' naysayers and critics have been proven wrong by putting on an astonishing performance full of offensive firepower and a win steak that should give them momentum going into the second half of the season. If they keep doing what they're doing, they should be comfortable enough to lock up the last AL Wild Card spot and play in a one-game-playoff (either in Boston or New York) to decide who will move on to the division series. If they start to slump at the start of the second half and continue doing so throughout August and September, the Mariners' Postseason hopes just might be out of reach and they'll have to wait another year for their long 16 year drought to end.
However, with the type of talent in the infield, pitching, and hitting that Seattle has and, given their recent win streak, there is no reason why the Mariners can't make some loud noise after the All-Star Break which may scare and be a warning sign for other teams not just in the American League, but also in the Majors to step their game up and don't sleep on them.
The Mariners may have gone silent in the spring, but they will surely be a deadly squad once the final fight for October has begun in the American League.
For Seattle sports, good things come to those who wait. And the Mariners have waited long enough for a chance to taste October glory for the first time in 17 years.