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2021 Is An Amazing Year For Mariners No Matter The Final Outcome

2021 Is An Amazing Year For Mariners No Matter The Final Outcome

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Luis Torrens #22 and manager Scott Servais #9 of the Seattle Mariners greet one another before the game against the Houston Astros at T-Mobile Park on September 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

 

Before the start of the 2021 MLB season, the Seattle Mariners seemed like a lock for fourth place in the American League West division.

Everybody assumed they would be better than the Texas Rangers, but by virtue of having Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon, three of the best hitters in MLB, the logical choice to finish higher between the Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels was the latter.

Surprisingly, the Mariners are not only significantly better than the Angels, but they are still fighting for a playoff spot with a 72-62 record.

Prior to the start of the season, if the Mariners were presented with a document saying that they would finish with a .500 record in 2021, they would have signed up for that.

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A Surprising Playoff Push

Right now, they are 10 games over .500 and 3.5 games out of a playoff spot.

Yes: they are far from the division-leading Houston Astros, but they are just 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the second and final playoff spot.

Injuries have certainly affected the M’s: they lost James Paxton for the year and Kyle Lewis, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, for most of it.

Right now, they have some contributors on the injured list, such as Evan White, Shed Long, Lewis, and Jake Fraley, among others.

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But they remain in the hunt for the playoffs despite a rather mediocre offense (21st in runs scored per game, with 4.2 and last in hits per contests, with 7.3) and middle-of-the-pack pitching.

A quality bullpen has helped: the unit is third in FanGraphs’ version of Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, with 6.3, and 10th in ERA, with 3.86.

Guys like former closer Kendall Graveman, Paul Sewald, Drew Steckenrider, Casey Sadler, and Erik Swanson have helped secure narrow victories in the late innings.

The Graveman trade, to the Astros no less, generated turmoil in the Mariners clubhouse.

However, and truth be told, Abraham Toro has been very good for the Mariners in 2021, with a .306/.383/.452 line, four homers, a .835 OPS, and two consecutive victories against the Astros thanks to Toro’s performance this week (including a home run against Graveman).

 

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The Season Has Been A Resounding Success For Seattle

No matter the outcome, the 2021 campaign should be considered a success for the Mariners.

Yes, they are overachieving (they have, after all, a negative run differential, at -56) but crucial players for the future took a step forward in their development.

Yusei Kikuchi looked like an ace at times, Chris Flexen has been a more than serviceable starter, and Logan Gilbert, despite a 5.14 ERA overall, has the looks of a future frontline pitcher.

J.P. Crawford has developed into a decent starting shortstop, Mitch Haniger has had a huge rebound season, Kyle Seager has 31 homers, and Ty France leads all Mariners position players in WAR (3.2) despite missing a lot of games.

Next season, struggling outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who has been holding his own lately, could explode into a five-tool contributor, and stellar prospect Julio Rodriguez could debut in The Show.

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Even if they fail to accomplish their primary objective at this point, which is making the playoffs in 2021, the Mariners should consider the 2021 season a huge success and a perfect foundation for what’s going to come in the future.



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