Mariners Season Scuttled At Home

The Seattle Mariners hold the longest current postseason drought in baseball. It dates back to their record 115-win season of 2001.

Living in Seattle through nine seasons has turned me into a “this-is-the-year” fan just like everyone else around here. But, that’s the beginning of the year.

The reality is that you know pretty early in the season if your team’s players have a chance to do something. You’ll see them sweep a series here and there at home, never lose more than four games in a row , etc.

By July 1, there I am, back to my negative self about the M’s prospects.

So what happens? Let’s back up a bit and talk about successful baseball teams and what it takes to not just make the postseason but to go far in it.

There are 162 games in a season. You can almost guarantee a postseason berth if you  win 90-95 games. Typically, you win two-of-three at home -approximately 54 wins- then win one-of-two on the road -41 wins. As a fan, you can track your team’s progress pretty quickly and have a good idea how your team will do by following this simple formula.

Through the first three months of the 2017 season, the Mariners were 40-41 overall. Several media members around here claimed that Seattle had a chance. I begged to differ.

I viewed two series in May as a sign of things to come.

May 11-14 they got swept in a four game series at Toronto and were outscored 21-6.

They also lost three-of-four at home to the Chicago White Sox from From May 18-21, and were outscored 30-8.

These are two well-below-average opponents.  Based on the formula above, the Mariners would have had to make up three-to-four games later against superior opposition.

History says that just doesn’t happen.

There was a glimmer of hope for the Mariners when they swept the lowly Tigers at home in a four game series. However, they immediately lost two-of-three to the Astros at home. Then got swept in two game series to the Phillies to end the home stand. Thus, for the home stand they ended up 5-4. Again, based on the formula, they needed to go at least 6-3.

For the season, the Mariners ended up 40-41 at home (coincidentally their overall record halfway through the season).

You really don’t need to look any further as to why they aren’t in the playoffs again, but I will. Of their 26 series at home they won 14, lost 10 and split twice. The most telling stat of all – they got swept at home five times.

You can argue weird things can happen because of luck and small sample size, and a playoff run is unexplainable. The Indians won 22 in a row this year, so why not the Mariners?

Maybe the Mariners did not have the luck to go on such a run. They certainly didn’t have  the starting pitching.

If your top-three starters provide you with 32 starts a piece, 96 total, you have something to build on. The Mariners top-three provided a total of 52 starts (James Paxton 24, Felix Hernandez 16, Hisashi Iwakuma 6) in 2017. By comparison, the 2001 Mariners top-three starters logged 101 starts.

Two bright spots in the M’s 2017 season: the offense and the emergence of a couple of prospects. If a top-line starter and a solid first baseman show up for the 2018 season along with healthy starting pitching, we may see a different result.

It won’t be hard to track: win two-of-three at home and play .500 on the road.

If the numbers aren’t there July 1 for your team, you can become a realist, like me.

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