The baseball world has been enamored by the Cubs historic start and what Bryce Harper does every at-bat and the Boston Red Sox offense. Those are storylines that jumped off the page to start the season, but people seem to be forgetting a little team out West the Seattle Mariners. It might be because they’ve underperformed when “experts” thought they should start winning, but in 2016 it seems they’ve taken that all-important step with the new regime and a healthy Robinson Cano. They are currently 28-19 first in the AL West.
A big key to the teams early success is that they are road warriors with an 18-7 record away from Safeco Field. Proving they are capable of winning anywhere.
Another key has been the return of Robinson Cano to his old self. He had been dealing with a virus most of the 2015 season that effected his play tremendously, but now he’s 100 percent healthy and it shows. He is hitting .294 with 14 home runs and 43 runs batted in! Fueling this Mariners offense along with his partner in crime Nelson Curz. Two all-stars back to back in a lineup is deadly!
Lastly, the team made a change in the front office and it has paid of big time.
The “Dipoto” Effect
The person to thank for the 2016 Seattle Mariners roster is general manager Jerry Dipoto the former general manager of the Los Angeles Angels has taken his talents a little further west and has built a serious contender. He has made many savvy moves in constructing this roster one move that is really paying off early for the Mariners is the acquisition of Leonys Martin he has added speed, defense, and a little pop to the lineup that already had Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Nelson Cruz.
Martin is batting a respectable .262 with nine home runs in 20 runs batted in and has .336 on-base percentage helping set up the big boppers in the middle of the lineup. He also can go get them in the outfield helping his pitchers avoid bigger innings. Dipoto also was able to help the pitching staff with the acquisition of Wade Miley. He is 5-2 with 4.50 ERA, which isn’t great, but he has been a reliable innings eater that the Mariners were looking for.
Miley has pitched near or above 200 innings the last four seasons and that’s a rare quality for any pitcher in today’s version of baseball with bullpens being so dominant but it’s a luxury the Mariners are taking advantage of. Additionally, the reliever the team gave up in the trade Carson Smith underwent Tommy John surgery unfortunate for him and the Red Sox, but it makes this deal an even bigger win for the Mariners.
The most surprising part of the Mariners team for many is the consistency and success of their bullpen. They have been the sixth best bullpen in the big leagues, thus far in 2016 they have a 5-4 record with 2.62 ERA. Very impressive considering it’s the American League with the designated hitter and the powerful teams they face in in the American League West.
Dipoto shook things up at the back end of the game as well, signing closer Steve Cishek to a two-year $10 million contract this off-season. Cishek who struggled with the Marlins and Cardinals in 2015 has found his form again and has become one of the top closers in the American League and baseball. Converting 12 out of 15 save opportunities looking to have that confidence and swagger once again out on the mound. Dipoto also got Joaquin Benoit quality set up man that has experience as a closer creating depth with veteran guys that understand what it takes to come out of the bullpen in close games and shut the door.
Dipoto has tweaked every part of this Mariner team, but so far he’s gotten great production out of the moves he has made and seems to have a renewed confidence in himself after a messy departure from the Angels. Players aren’t the only ones that need a fresh start, but sometimes management needs one as well. Dipoto has thrived with his new team.
The Seattle Mariners are poised to continue the chase for the division title and a deep postseason run. It might be a few years later than people anticipated, but they’re here and here to stay. Their offense is led by Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz and don’t forget their staff ace King Felix! Sleep on them if you want, but they are just going to keep winning so baseball I would start to take notice of the team out West.