This past weekend, the Seattle Mariners’ series against the Cleveland Indians closed out one of the strongest April starts in recent memory for the M’s. The Mariners took game one by a single run, and lost game two in similar fashion, but it was the final two games of the series that showcased the big bats of this team and their capacity to drive the ball.
The Mariners scored 22 runs in the final two games of the series against the Indians. 13 of those runs were scored by home run. In fact, this weekend saw eight of the Mariners’ hits land on the opposite side of the outfield fence in Progressive Field.
Now, a team does not become a postseason contender on the long ball alone. Teams must compete in all aspects of the game; a combination of long and small ball. But one cannot deny the essential quality of the home run, its significance. It is a guarantee, it is assurance. It is taking the opposing team and letting them know there is nothing to stopping you from placing runs on the scoreboard. It is coveted, and the Mariners have shown they can hit them, and hit them well. With that, let’s go over the Mariners offensive production in terms of home runs since the start of the season.
The Mariners have hit 36 home runs since Opening Day, tying the Indians for fourth place in MLB behind the Yankees, who have taken the lead with 41 homers. These are the most home runs the M’s have hit since 1999, where they hit 44 in the month of April.
What is compelling is the manner in which these home runs are being scored. The Mariners have a league leading 10 home runs hit on the first pitch. Four of those belong to Mitch Haniger, who has consistently, and quietly, been at the top of Fangraphs leaderboards all season. Two of Ryon Healy’s three home runs have come off contact with the first pitch, as have two of Nelson Cruz’s.
It is also interesting to note that even though the Mariners have a consistent lineup of left and right-handed batters, 30 of their 36 home runs have come off of right-handed pitching. Not only are lefty-righty matchups a non-issue for this team, but situationally, nothing seems to be stopping the Mariners from driving in more runs. Over half of their home runs hit so far have come with runners on the bases and they lead the American League in home runs with runners on and two outs. If you want to see this for yourself, just head on over to a Mariners game on the weekend. They are also leading the league in home runs hit on Saturdays and Sundays.
It goes without saying that this team means business but that is not what has kept the team on the successful end of the spectrum. The Mariners are approaching each at bat with determination and grit, but also with a sense of fun. This sense of fun not only drives the team to succeed, it does a grand service to the fans who genuinely care about seeing their beloved Mariners win games. As of now, the M’s are in second place in their division; a mere two game behind the Houston Astros, and there seems to be no sign of stopping them.
Let’s hope they keep it going strong.