John Stanton, worth $1.1 billion
World Series Titles:
OF Ken Griffey Jr.
90-72, 2md in AL West
Scott Servais, 55; Record: 528-504, 0 World Series Titles
T-Mobile Park, Capacity: 47,943
OF Teoscar Hernández. A lack of pop hurt the Seattle Mariners last season, and many are justifiably upset with their lack of spending in free agency to address this issue. However, the Hernández trade mitigates some of these concerns. He’s put up a wRC+ of 142, 132, and 129 in the last three seasons, respectively. It’s a slight decrease in performance, but still very solid production, especially when he’s giving you 25+ home run power.
OF Mitch Haniger. In many ways, Hernández was the Haniger replacement. After putting up 39 home runs in 2021, injuries hampered his 2022, limiting him to 57 games. He hit .246 with 11 bombs in that portion of a season, landing him a deal in San Francisco. The high power, high strikeout bat leaves the middle of the order, but it may be his impact on the clubhouse that looms larger. A long-time Mariner and fan favorite, Haniger leaving for greener pastures has opened the door for new faces to continue.
OF Taylor Trammell. The Mariners have been able to avoid a plague of injuries so far in spring training, leaving Trammell as the lone victim. A fractured hamate required surgery, likely taking him out of game action for Opening Day. A part-time contributor in the outfield, his ability to get on base hasn’t truly come around just yet, but Seattle’s high hopes for his bat combine with the prowess they’ve seen defensively to render him as someone they’ll sorely miss in the short term.
SP Emerson Hancock. One of the top arms left in Seattle’s system, Hancock features some really impressive secondary offerings to pair with a decent fastball. Sure, he’s not a particularly refined pitcher just yet, but the Mariners are willing and able to give him time to grow. Should that development occur this season, he can amicably fill in for an injured starter and give them explosive innings, à la Matt Brash and George Kirby last season.
Man, there are few teams in baseball more fun than these Mariners. However you feel about them–legitimate contenders, a middling playoff team, or regression candidate–the ride to the end result is going to be a blast.
That, of course, starts with wonderkid Julio Rodríguez. He’s the only star on this side of the ball, but the Mariners have done an adequate job of surrounding him with quality Major Leaguers. It’s not a lineup without questions, but Kolten Wong and J.P. Crawford up the middle, insulated by power bats everywhere else in the infield, is a good place to start. They’re versatile, deep, and (largely) hard outs to get.
Speaking of getting outs, I am both enamored and worried about the pitching staff. Luis Castillo filled the Félix Hernández role in the second half of 2022, not just in the rotation but within the fanbase as well. The dude is a star and so easy to rally around. What he isn’t though, is consistent. I fear we may be too optimistic in our projections of Logan Gilbert and Robbie Ray, meaning a steady hand from Castillo is that much more important.
Elsewhere, Kirky and Brash headline the younger members of a quality staff. Paul Sewald and Andrés Muñoz offer two of the best fastballs in the sport, and virtually everyone else has the stuff to compete. By no means is the bullpen, especially its top half, a concern for this ballclub.
85-77, 3rd in AL West
BetBasics Best Bet:
This Seattle team presents us with an interesting betting profile, more than a lucrative one. Nothing stands out as excellent value, but a few options stand out as smart value.
The first of which is betting on them to win the division. FanDuel has them at +360 to do so, with the rival Astros at -200. Too often, we turn uncertainties to certainties through assumptions that we probably shouldn’t harbor. It’s just human nature. We’re all assuming Houston is going to win the West, and they very well could. But if any team has the ceiling to overtake them, it’s Seattle. They’re young, talented, and the only team in the division with the pitching depth to match. If the rotation hits, it very well could come down to the wire.
My minor concerns with the rotation and lack of confidence make me favor Los Angeles in terms of record, but upside? Seattle is the better bet.
Further, Rodríguez is listed at +850 to bring an MVP to the Pacific Northwest. Holding the fourth-best odds in the American League, it’s clear he’s talented. If he can put up a 30-30 season, and Seattle dethrones their rival, the votes will be there.