Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 Pre-Season Profile: Seattle Mariners


The Seattle Mariners almost made the playoffs in 2014, then struggled in 2015, then almost made the playoffs in 2016.  Will 2017 continue the trend and be a struggle, or will the M's end the longest playoff drought in baseball?

My 2016 Predictions
3rd in AL West
Hisashi Iwakuma makes the All Star Team.

2016 Results
86-76, 2nd in AL West
The Mariners were in the playoff race last season until the last weekend.  This exceeded many people's expectations after the whirlwind offseason they had leading into the 2016 season.  This result seemed even more unlikely after King Felix spent a good portion of the season on the DL.  Hisashi Iwakuma may not have made the All Star Team, but he was the best starter for the M's in 2016.

Additions / Subtractions
Mariners' General Manager Jerry DiPoto followed up one of the busiest offseasons ever in 2016 with one of the busiest offseasons ever in 2017.  He has completely remade the roster again, building a new group around a solid core of stars.  The biggest move of the offseason was trading phenom Taijuan Walker and young starting shortstop Ketel Marte to the Diamondbacks for established All Star Jean Segura.  Also, gone are Chris Iannetta, Adam Lind, Dae-ho Lee, Nori Aoki, Seth Smith, Franklin Gutierrez, and Nathan Karns.  Added to the roster are Carlos Ruiz, Danny Valencia, Jarrod Dyson, Taylor Motter, Drew Smyly, and Yovani Gallardo.  I'm curious to see if this is going to happen every year.

Most Important Hitter
Jean Segura
When a team trades away two future stars for an established player, it proves just how important that player is going to be.  Jean Segura emerged a few years ago for the Brewers.  After a down season or two, he found himself on the D-Backs in 2016, making the All Star Team, leading the NL in hits.  The Mariners brought him in to be a consistent table setter, one thing they have been lacking ever since Ichiro moved on.  Especially with a 3-4-5 of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager, the M's need guys on base when these boppers come to the plate.  Segura needs to continue the production he had in 2016 for the Mariners to be successful in 2017.

Most Important Pitcher
Felix Hernandez
King Felix seemed to be a machine over the last decade.  He was one of the most dominant starters in baseball while making every start.  Last season, all that ended.  Felix had his highest ERA since 2007, and his least innings pitched since 2005 (his first season in the league).  Many people are counting Felix out, saying he is done being dominant.  The Mariners are counting on 2016 being an anomaly, and 2017 will be a return to dominance for the King.  If the Mariners are going to be successful this season, Felix needs to be the King.

Player to Watch
Mitch Haniger
When the Mariners traded for Jean Segura and gave up both Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte, some said they overpaid for the shortstop.  However, others said that this would not be remembered for these three players, but for Mitch Haniger.  Haniger was one of the forgotten prospects that are always thrown into trades like this, however he went out this Spring and won the starting job in rightfield on Opening Day.  The Mariners think they have found a star in Haniger that could exceed the stardom of all three known names in this deal.

2017 Prediction
3rd in AL West, WILD CARD, lose in ALDS
The streak will end in 2017!  The Mariners have been so close several times since bringing in Robinson Cano.  With all the moves that have been made, the M's have built around their core of Cano/Cruz/Seager/Felix and found players that will complement them and their strengths.  Edwin Diaz has emerged as an electric closer that will anchor the bullpen.  With all the moves DiPoto made, the Mariners also have a lot of depth to protect from injuries.  I see the Mariners finishing in third in the division, but beating the Rangers in the one game Wild Card round.  Their run may end in the ALDS, but making the playoffs will be a huge step moving forward for the Mariners.

Fearless Prediction
Scott Servais will win AL Manager of the Year.
Ending the longest playoff drought in the league is reason enough to win Manager of the Year.  Add to that the fact that Scott Servais had his first season managing at any level last season, and taking his team to the playoffs will be that much more impressive.

No comments:

Post a Comment