With a 6-5 loss to the Oakland A’s yesterday, the Seattle Mariners clinch a losing record for the 2017 campaign. Bad news, first: the losing season was the team’s sixth out of the last eight seasons, and the Mariners continue the longest playoff drought in baseball having not made the postseason since 2001. This season, though, felt different. The Mariners racked up injury after injury including a brutal run in August after James Paxton’s trip to the D.L. where they were missing their top four starting pitchers yet still clawing for a postseason birth. The Mariners won’t make the postseason or finish over .500, but this team kept fighting until the end.
As a fan, I was thrilled with GM Jerry Dipoto’s performance this season. Quick aside, I am a Colts fan, and I’ve seen what one injury (Andrew Luck) can do to a team. Dipoto lost his top four starter pitchers in the beginning of August, as the Mariners clung to Wild Card contention. Instead of sitting on his hands, he was aggressive and took chances. He made a waiver deal for Andrew Albers, and Albers shone in his two months in Seattle (5-1, 3.19 ERA). He made a deal for Mike Leake, committing to Leake not only for this season but the future also. Leake, after a bad second half in St. Louis, also pitched well in Seattle (3-1, 2.53 ERA, 4 QS). He never gave up on the season, and, as a fan of the Mariners, I am thankful for that fight.
Unexpected Offensive Star of 2017: Ben Gamel. Gamel started the season at Tacoma, but when he was called up he grabbed hold of an OF spot and didn’t let go. Gamel, a trade acquisition for the Yankees last season, batted .200 for Seattle with 1 HR and 5 RBI in 2016. This season, Gamel batted .280 with 11 HR and 59 RBI. That .280 average was good enough for 4th out of the Mariners’ regulars behind the trio of Jean Segura, Nelson Cruz, and Robinson Cano. He also showed positional flexibility at the corner OF spots for the Mariners putting in 50 games at RF and 82 at LF.
Unexpected Pitching Star of 2017: Ariel Miranda. Miranda was going to begin the season at Tacoma, but an injury to Drew Smyly forced him into the rotation. All Ariel did from there was lead the team in starts, being a steady arm for the Mariners as injuries wrecked the rotation left and right. His end of the season stat line isn’t pretty (8-7, 5.12 ERA), but he gave the Mariners innings, and he put up the second most Quality Starts on the staff (9) trailing only James Paxton. In a season where a record seventeen Mariner pitchers made starts, Miranda gave the staff some stability in a crazy injury riddled season.