Seattle Mariners Are Best Team In The American League
Seattle Mariners baseball has become very exciting for fans in the Pacific Northwest again. The first-place Seattle Mariners have taken over the American League West and now have sights set on the 2016 MLB Playoffs. The Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 9-8 on Wednesday, May 4, completing a three-game sweep at the Coliseum. Late inning heroics by Dae-Ho Lee, who hit two home runs in the game, proved to be a big key in another victory for the team.
This series victory was the sixth-straight for the Seattle Mariners, dating back to when the team took two-of-three games from the New York Yankees on April 15-17. It’s also the most series victories of any team in the American League this season. That is the type of consistency that can get a team straight to the postseason, which is a place that the Mariners haven’t seen since the 2001 MLB season.
The current playoff drought that Mariners fans have had to experience is one of the worst in Major League Baseball. The team looked good enough to make the playoffs in 2002 and 2003, but fell short in the last months of the regular season each time. Now the Mariners are off to a hot start again, with the potential to finally give fans a chance to see playoff baseball at Safeco Field again.
Through 27 games, the Seattle Mariners have the second-most runs scored in the American League. The 122 total runs scored are better than many teams that have already played 28 or 29 games during the 2016 MLB season. Clutch hitting and getting on base has been key for the Mariners, as the team boasts a.321 on-base percentage and.736 OPS so far. Leading the league in home runs (38) has also helped a lot.
The Mariners also have the second-best ERA in the AL at 3.04 as a team. The third-best ERA belongs to the Toronto Blue Jays at 3.58, showing the gap that currently exists. The Mariners also have a WHIP of 1.14 and opponents are hitting just.226 against the team. The bullpen has a 2.31 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and opponents are hitting just.170 against them. With 87 strikeouts in 78 innings of work, the bullpen has been able to shut the door on a number of big games this year.
One of the oddities of the Seattle Mariners’ success this year has been how well the team plays on the road. The Mariners boast the best record on the road at 11-4, giving opponents a lot to deal with during road trips. That’s exactly where the Mariners are right now, as a four-game series against the Houston Astros begins on Thursday, May 5. Winning this series could not only give the Mariners additional breathing room in the AL West, but it could push the 10-18 Astros further out of contention.
Thus far, the attack from the Seattle Mariners on offense has been pretty balanced. All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano leads the way with nine home runs and 26 RBIs, while outfielder Nelson Cruz leads the team with a.293 batting average. Shortstop Ketel Marte has also surfaced as a nice complementary hitter with a.289 batting average through 25 games. Gold Glove third baseman Kyle Seager has six home runs, Nelson Cruz and Leonys Martin each have five home runs, and Dae-Ho Lee and Seth Smith have four homers each.
On the pitching side, new Mariners closer Steve Cishek is 8-for-8 in save opportunities with a 0.69 ERA. Taijuan Walker is leading the staff so far, posting a 1.80 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over 30 innings. Felix Hernandez has also been good, posting a 2.21 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work.
At 16-11, the Seattle Mariners definitely have a long way to go in the 2016 MLB season. If the early start is an indication of where the team could wind up, though, Mariners fans might have to start planning for a second sport to take the main stage in Seattle during October.
[Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images]