Have a seat. Put on your reading glasses. Pour yourself a celebratory beverage.
The Seattle Mariners have the best record in baseball, in 2019, and this is not fake news.
How do we go from expecting next to nothing from a ballclub to witnessing such success, albeit at a young phase of the 162-game, almost seven-month-long baseball season? Are they outperforming everyone’s low expectations just to prove them wrong, or is this just an early season blip? These are the kind of big questions that are not entirely answerable. For now, let’s just enjoy what’s happening.
At the time of this writing, here are the statistics that the Mariners lead the American League in: batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, home runs, runs, walks and stolen bases.
They’ve already broken club and MLB records for the most home runs hit in the fewest number of games. They are proud owners of the best run differential in baseball, thank you very much. The only other team that comes close is the Dodgers. Sounds like good company to keep, as the Dodgers are considered one of the better teams in the sport. The Mariners currently have 110 runs, about eight a game. When you put up those kinds of numbers, you’re going to win an awful lot of games.
The regular season began with the Mariners traveling overseas for only the second time in club history. They played a two-game series in Tokyo against Oakland. Not only did they win both games, which no one expected, but they had a stirring retirement tribute to Ichiro, who was able to end his illustrious career on native soil. From there, Seattle returned Stateside and slipped back into the pre-season, where they stashed a couple of non-consequential losses where no one would find them. For the first regular season home series, the Mariners hosted the Boston Red Sox, the defending World Series champions. Not only did Seattle not get clobbered, but they won three out of four, proving that Tokyo was no fluke. They followed this with a couple of wins over Mike Trout’s Angels, a team that many expect to compete for all the marbles at season’s end.
In terms of individual contributions, there are numerous notable successes on both sides of the ball. On offense, some standouts are shortstop Tim Beckham, who currently leads the team with a batting average of .400, which puts him right near the top of the American League. He also, not surprisingly, leads the team with an on-base percentage of .489. Right Fielder Domingo Santana is leading the team with 19 each RBIs and hits. Pitcher Marco Gonzales already has four wins and an ERA of 3.16.
This week the Mariners have been beating up on the cellar dweller Royals, which is what you expect good teams to do—beat bad teams. This weekend the Mariners have a good team on their schedule, the division-rival Houston Astros. Houston will be out for blood, trailing the Mariners in first place by 3.5 games. Beat up on Seattle all weekend and they could flip that script. But I’m sure few expect that to happen the way the Mariners are playing.
If you’re not ready for a cold shower, you might want to stop reading now.
The reality is that the weather hasn’t even warmed up yet. Casual fans may not even realize that the season is underway. The Mariners have the best record and many of the best stats in baseball, but they haven’t even played 10% of their games. When you recall that the Mariners have the longest playoff drought in major professional sports, some 18 years, you realize that it is a little premature to anoint this team as champions.
Okay, a lot premature. As with weather in the Northwest, just because you get a week of sunshine doesn’t mean that it’s not going to revert back to rain in the long term.
So where does that leave us fans? How exactly should we feel? As with many things in life, we have choices about how we choose to react to various events that come before us.
One option is to build a steel fortress around your heart. Whenever you hear about the Mariners continuing to win, tell yourself that it’s only a matter of time before things start to deteriorate. Wait till the end of the season and then see where things sit. If and when things do go downhill, tell yourself that you were right not to get too excited, too early.
Another option, the one I propose, is of the life is short variety. Imagine what a great summer 2019 might be if the Mariners are in the hunt for meaningful, post-season things. Picture yourself sitting on a stoop with a transistor radio nearby. Or maybe a hammock is more your thing. Better yet, envision a trip or three to the ballpark. Have you ever played hooky from school or work? It’s really fun, but don’t tell your boss or teacher I said that.