Eric Parks, Staff Writer
The Mariners 2017 season was a roller coaster ride of a few highs and many lows. Having not seen their beloved team make it to the playoffs since 2001, many fans were hoping for a surprise season that ended in a playoff berth, but the team was not able to pull through. At times, Mariners fans had hope that the team could string together enough wins to steal a wild card spot in a weak American League (AL). After winning two straight in Oakland August 8-9, the team was 59-56 and had a season-high 31 percent chance of making the playoffs. Seattle was then promptly swept by the Los Angeles Angels in a four-game series which put their playoff push in serious jeopardy. Injuries also piled up through August, and the team was not able to keep pace with the Twins for the final playoff spot, finishing 78-84 and seven games behind Minnesota (85-77).
At the beginning of the season, many baseball analysts were hopeful the Mariners bullpen would be somewhat viable. Unfortunately, injuries and disappointing play prevented that from happening. James Paxton was one of the brightest lights of this group, but the often injured lefty had a pair of stints on the disabled list. The second injury came at a time when Seattle needed Big Maple the most: during their mid-August push for an AL wild card spot. Many were expecting Felix Hernandez to have a good season, but instead his season was defined by injuries and poor play. Other starters that spent significant time on the injured reserve list through August were Hisashi Iwakuma, David Phelps, and Drew Smyly.
While the Mariners’ batters could have been more productive, many of them looked good throughout the 2017 season. While rookie Mitch Haniger found his way to the injured reserve twice, he looked impressive when healthy. Kyle Seager and aging Nelson Cruz were also productive at times. In August, the team acquired All-Star Yonder Alonso from the Oakland A’s. Alonso was able to produce immediately at first base. Unfortunately, Alonso is a free agent this offseason and may demand more money than Seattle can offer. The Mariners’ offense could be impressive if their batters learned how to play more consistently.
Looking ahead to 2018, the Mariners might be able to build on the few bright spots of this season. The pitching will likely improve if the team isn’t ravaged with injuries like it was in 2017, but acquiring talent from elsewhere is probably the best way to avoid a repeat of last season. Seattle may lose Jarrod Dyson, Danny Valencia, Yonder Alonso and Carlos Ruiz in free agency. Since those four players combined for 16.8 million dollars in 2017, Seattle has a lot of options with the direction they wish to go, but have glaring needs at pitching and first base that need to be addressed prior to the start of next season. If the Mariners could come together as a team next season, there’s no reason that they can’t compete for Minnesota’s wild card spot, especially considering that the Twins made the playoffs after a 59-103 campaign in 2016.