The Seattle Mariners are one of the most popular baseball franchises in the west.
However, for all their popularity, the team hasn’t been able to advance to the World Series yet.
They have three division titles: in 1995, 1997, and 2001.
That 2001 season was magical: they went 116-46, which tied the best record in the regular season in history, and Ichiro was named the American League Rookie of the Year and the MVP.
They lost in the Championship Series to the New York Yankees, however.
After that year, there hasn’t been much success to talk about.
However, the team has been rebuilding for a while, and is now finally moving closer to contention.
A Very Good Pitching Foundation
As of Monday afternoon, the Mariners are in third place of the AL West division with a 38-36 record.
They have won seven of their last 10 games and are fresh off sweeping the reigning AL champions, the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Mariners can finally say they have some pitchers to build around their next postseason push, which could come as soon as this year if things break right for them.
Yusei Kikuchi is breaking out before our eyes, with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 80.2 innings, while young prospect Logan Gilbert has made adjustments after a rough start and has a 4.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
Yusei Kikuchi, 98mph ⛽️ and K strut.
I like him waving "bye" to Diaz. Very polite. 👋😀 pic.twitter.com/uG6GpIQUyB
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 19, 2021
Offensive Franchise Cornerstones
Shortstop J.P. Crawford is a Gold Glover with a suspect bat, but he has improved enough to be decent with the stick (.745 OPS).
Overall, the current Mariners offense is rather unimpressive, but the future is bright.
The latter had a failed stint with the Mariners this year after dominating in Triple-A.
Kelenic had a rough 0-for-39 stretch that sent him to the minors, but he should be alright in the long run as he matures and gets used to competitive pitching.
He has a unique blend of contact, power, speed, athleticism, and work ethic.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, can also be a game-changer, especially with the bat.
He projects as a .290 type of hitter with easy 30-homer power.
It’s possible that Haniger and Seager are out of the organization by the time Kelenic, Rodriguez, Hancock, Kirby, and other top prospects are ready to contribute.
But the overall quality of Seattle’s top prospects is so good, and the pitching foundation is so great that they could be seriously contending next year.
#Mariners in Baseball America Top-100:
3. Julio Rodriguez
4. Jarred Kelenic
35. Logan Gilbert
57. Emerson Hancock
— Luke Arkins (@luke_arkins) January 18, 2021
A World Series appearance is not out of the question between 2023 and 2025 if Kelenic and Rodriguez fully develop and the pitching holds up.