It’s been just over two weeks since the end of the Seattle Mariners postseason run. Now that the initial emotions of a heartbreaking 18 inning one run loss have subsided, it is a better time than ever to look back at the season as a whole and analyze its ups and downs.
Obviously, losing a playoff series 3-0 to a hated division rival in Houston is never how you want your season to end, especially when you examine the games and see that all three of them were very winnable for the Mariners. But people seem to have forgotten just how badly this team was underperforming before riding a miraculous 14-game winning streak that put them right back into things. Looking back, this 2022 team was ten games under .500 on Jun. 19 – baseball fans all throughout the Northwest seemed to believe that this season was already a lost cause, and that they should already be looking forward to next season to finally end the playoff drought.
But if there is one thing that this Seattle ball club has proven time and time again, it’s that they never give up, no matter how bad things look. From July 1 to the end of the regular season, the Mariners had the fourth-best record in baseball; the number one reason why being their pitching. The Mariners had the 6th best bullpen ERA in the MLB, with top-notch relievers like Andrés Muñoz, Eric Swanson, and Paul Sewald, who all seemed unhittable at times.
It wasn’t just the bullpen that had an exceptional season, though. The acquisition of all-star, Luis Castillo, beefed up what was already a strong starting rotation. Young starting pitchers, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby, both proved that they were the real deal and could be pivotal for the team moving into the future.
Another positive was the emergence of a number of young ballplayers who proved that they are more than able to play at an MLB level. On top of Gilbert, Kirby, and the fireball-throwing Andres Muñoz , should-be Rookie of the Year, Julio Rodriguez, and Gold Glove finalist, Cal “Big Dumper” Raleigh, provided offensive firepower at times of need for this team. Raleigh led all catchers in home runs this season with 28, and Rodriguez led the Mariners in every major offensive stat except home runs.
There were many positives for the Mariners in 2022, but this season didn’t come without its negatives. Outside of Eugenio Suárez, who led the team in home runs, many of last season’s offseason acquisitions such as Jesse Winker, Adam Frazier, and Robbie Ray had lackluster seasons compared to what they have proven to be capable of at an MLB level.
The team was middle-of-the-road in total runs scored per game and ranked bottom five in the league in runners left on base per game. Despite those stats, they were actually among the MLB top ten in team WRC+ and the third most-walked team in baseball. Their offensive problems never included getting guys on base, the problem was driving them in. This, however, is a problem that could be fixed this offseason. The Mariners lacked run production from their middle infielders, JP Crawford and Adam Frazier, who both struggled this season. And with big name middle infield free agents out there like Carlos Correra, Trea Turner, and Xander Boegarts (all of whom Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has already shown interest in), the team could be big players in the offseason market.
This season proved that a good core of players already exists in Seattle, and that we have a blooming superstar in Julio Rodriguez. Some would believe that it’s not far-fetched to say that, behind the Astros, the Mariners are the second-best team in the American League. It’s obvious that there is still a gap between us and Houston, but that gap looks to be getting smaller by the season. The 2022 M’s ended a 20 year playoff drought, and with the right moves in the offseason, the future Mariners could become true contenders for that World Series trophy that Seattle so desperately wants.