Last year, the Mariners put up one of the most exciting seasons that I could remember. Their record at the end of the year was 90-72, just missing the playoffs. According to Baseball-Reference, their actual record should have been 76-86 based on their runs scored and runs given up. Last year, they scored 697 runs while giving up 748. They were ranked 11th out of the fifteen AL teams in runs scored, so Jerry Dipoto, the team president, decided to change that. He grabbed Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez while calling up Julio Rodriguez to increase those runs scored. Jarred Kelenic and Mitch Haniger are back, and they signed Adam Frazier to provide leadoff stability. Here are some quick stats on some of those players that were mentioned.
- Jesse Winker: .950 OPS last year, with a .295 xBA
- Eugenio Suarez: 31 HR previous year with a seventeen-point BA to xBA difference.
- Jarred Kelenic: An above-average barrel % (9.9% compared to the league’s 6.6%)
- Julio Rodriguez: Exciting, strong 70-grade power, 30 HR guaranteed, 1.309 spring OPS
- Mitch Haniger: 39 HR last year, 10% higher Hard Hit % than the league average
These guys alone will provide more than enough firepower to get the Mariners into the playoffs. Let’s see who they would go against and how deep they will make it into October.
In 2022, the playoff rules were altered to add two teams to each league, bringing it to twelve total teams. The top three division leaders get the top three seeds. After that, it’s the best record out of the three divisions that get the last three seeds. The three seed hosts the six seed, and the four seed hosts the five seed, each in a three-game series.
I sourced a couple of Vegas line makers and came to the average of the best odds of winning the World Series. Below is the list:
1): Houston Astros
2): Toronto Blue Jays
3): New York Yankees
4): Chicago White Sox
5): Tampa Bay Rays
6): Boston Red Sox
7): Los Angeles Angels
8): Seattle Mariners
9): Minnesota Twins
10): Detroit Tigers
Using these odds, I think that thanks to the potent offense mentioned above, the Mariners can push their way past the Red Sox and Angels to the six seed. If we use the above odds to make the bracket, the Astros and Blue Jays will get the bye week, the White Sox will host the Mariners, and the Yankees will host the Rays.
We’re focused on the White Sox and Mariners series here. Let’s compare the two teams using ZIPS projections. (ZiPS stands for Zymborski Projection System. Essentially, it uses trends in player performances to project growth and decline curves based on player production. It’s what we stat nerds like to use the most for projecting out players):
Seattle Mariners ZIPS Top Three: Ty France (20.9 OFF), Jesse Winker (16.6 OFF), Julio Rodriguez (13.3 OFF)
Chicago White Sox ZIPS Top Three: Yasmani Grandal (17.7 OFF), Luis Robert (14.5 OFF), Yoan Moncada (13.4 OFF)
Decision: I figured why not drop another advanced statistic on you all. OFF stands for offensive runs above average. It combines the quality and quantity of their total offensive performance. I won’t bore you with the actual formula (ok, fine, here is a taste: wRAA = ((wOBA – lgwOBA)/wOBA Scale)*PA). See, I know you didn’t want to see that). You need to know that 0 is an average player, 15 is above average, 30 is great, and 45 is excellent. 20.9 from France was surprising, but I can now see why the Mariners stuck with him over Evan White. The Mariners have a top-heavy lineup, with Haniger right behind J-Rod at 13.2, but it dips off after Eugenio Suarez. The White Sox are different in that they have Eloy, Abreu, Anderson, and Pollack above 7.8. I’ll give the White Sox the advantage here.
Seattle Mariners Projected Top Three: Robbie Ray (3.65 FIP), Logan Gilbert (4.24 FIP), Chris Flexen (4.42 FIP)
Chicago White Sox Projected Top Three: Lucas Giolito (3.41 FIP), Dylan Cease (3.81 FIP), Lance Lynn (4.16 FIP)
Decision: I used FIP as the indicator here because it’s the go-to for establishing a pitcher’s effectiveness while subtracting defensive plays. Much like the hitting for the Mariners, they also feature a top-heavy rotation. With new arrival to the league, Matt Brash, set to make his debut this year, he could break into the top three. The White Sox have established veterans behind their top three like Dallas Keuchel and Vince Velasquez, but in a three-game series, that may not matter. I would take the edge with the White Sox here, given that both Giolito and Cease are a better combo than Ray and Gilbert.
Seattle Mariners Projected Top Three: Ken Giles (3.48 FIP), Paul Sewald (3.53 FIP), Wyatt Mills (4.02 FIP)
Chicago White Sox Projected Top Three: Liam Hendriks (2.81 FIP), Aaron Bummer (3.15 FIP), Garrett Crochet (3.32 FIP)
Decision: We’ve seen in the playoffs that teams are quick to turn to the bullpen. Liam Hendriks is returning after capturing 38 saves for the club last year. Bummer and Crochet are both flamethrowers that can hit over 100mph. While Giles and Sewald aren’t bad options, we agree that the White Sox are more equipped in this department.
How Far Can They Go This Year?
I believe that the Mariners can make the playoffs on the back of their offense and the new addition of two teams. Based on current World Series odds, it would put them in a matchup with the Chicago White Sox. If this does happen, and injuries are non-existent, the White Sox are a better team overall. I believe it will be a 2-0 sweep, but to make the playoffs for the Mariners this year would be a step up from last year.