2018: Record: 89 – 73
2018 Finish: 3rd in the AL West, 7th in the American League
Surprises in 2018
At one point in 2018, the Mariners were 10 games ahead of the Oakland A’s for the final Wild Card spot in the AL. The Mariners played so well in the 1st half of their season they got their manager, Scott Servais, a multiyear extension.
Edwin Diaz was an absolute monster as a closer and finished 8th in the Cy Young Voting. Mitch Haniger went from solid player to MVP candidate and finished with a 6.1 WAR. Marco Gonzalez and Wade LeBlanc proved to be potential rotation anchors for the future of the Mariners.
Ichiro came to say Hi to the team and fans, making a few appearances before a soft retirement (he’s going to play for the Mariners in their opening series in Japan in 2019).
Overall, the Mariners won 89 games, the 6th most wins in franchise history and several wins more than most prognosticators predicted.
Disappointments in 2018:
Because they played so well to start 2018, it was a real disappointment that the year didn’t end in a playoff birth (which would have been their first since 2001). 89 wins would have easily won the second wild card spot in 2017, but with the insanely good play of the Oakland A’s, they finished 8 games out of a playoff spot.
Robinson Cano not only torpedoed Mariners fans
Potential Hall of Famer Felix Hernandez had his worst season ever finishing with a -1.3 WAR and 5.55 ERA. Eventually the Mariners saw the writing on the wall and traded James Paxton to the
Looking Ahead to 2019:
The Mariners are an interesting team in that they were in the playoff hunt in 2018, but have opted to go for a rebuild in 2019 instead of a shot at the wild card.
Gone are Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura, Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia, and in their place are outfielders Mallex Smith and Carlos Santana, shortstop J.P. Crawford, and catcher Omar Narvaez.
The rotation is solid, if unspectacular with Marco Gonzalez, Mike Leake, Yusei Kikuchi, Wade LeBlanc, and bounceback candidate Felix Hernandez anchoring. The bullpen is a big question mark and the Mariners will eagerly anticipate how their new players will fit into the offense.
Top prospect Justus Sheffield will get a long look in spring training and give the Mariners hope that their rebuild will be a short one. Don’t be surprised if the new pieces inject the Mariners with life in 2019 and they stay competitive. But also don’t be surprised if it takes time for everyone to adjust and 2019 is a lost year.
By shedding expensive contracts and getting younger, talented players the Mariners look to be on a better path to reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Also, Mariners fans get to watch Ichiro play as a Mariner one more time in Japan and that’s something to get excited about!