Mariners have a strong chance of returning to October baseball


Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano on Aug. 25. Cano has hit 33 home runs on the season.

For the first time in 15 years, the Seattle Mariners are looking to crash the post-season party.

The Mariners (79-70) currently hold the longest postseason drought in the MLB, and it is an understatement to say that fans want that streak broken.

As of yesterday, the Mariners sit two games out of the second wild card spot. With new rule changes in effect as of 2012, the top non-division winners in the American and National Leagues earn wild card bids and face off in a one-game playoff.

The Mariners are fighting for one of those spots and for a chance to make the postseason for the first time since 2001. After all, playoff teams from recent years have proven that it does not matter how you get to the playoffs, it just matters what you do in the playoffs.

Whether it be through a wild card berth or a division title, a chance for the Seattle Mariners organization to compete in the postseason is really all the team can hope for with this being the first year of management for General Manager Jerry Dipoto and Manager Scott Servais.

Usually with a change of leadership at the top of an organization, there’s a change in the organization’s philosophy, and this year was no different. Dipoto revamped the Mariner’s roster while stressing the importance of acquiring players who have a high on-base percentage and giving middle-of-the-order sluggers Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager the opportunity to drive in runs.

Not only have Cano, Cruz, and Seager played well, but Cano and Seager have career highs of 33 and 29 home runs respectively with two weeks remaining in the regular season. Meanwhile, Cruz leads the ball club with 37 long balls thus far.

Ryan Divish, Mariners beat writer for the Seattle Times, said in an interview, “This team has hit more homers than any team I’ve ever covered. No team I’ve ever covered had a ‘big three’ as productive as this year’s group.”

Dipoto also referenced the Seattle Seahawks at the beginning of the year when talking about creating a winning culture in Seattle.

When asked what he noticed to be the largest indicator of a culture change in Mariners baseball, Divish said, “The biggest differences are personnel and philosophy Dipoto is more pragmatic than (former Mariners GM) Jack Zduriencik. He won’t allow the last 10 games the team has played influence (his philosophy). He has a belief in what makes a good team and follows regardless of what outside pressure he hears.”

Dipoto made more moves than any other general manager in baseball this offseason, and not only in a change in players but in a front office shakeup as well, and it is working.

A three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays began Monday night at Safeco Field, putting the Mariners in an interesting spot to really shake up the wild card race. The Blue Jays (81-68) are two games ahead of the Mariners in the wild card standings, and winning two of the three games in the series puts Seattle one game back of the second wild card spot in the American League.

Of course, if the Mariners sweep the three game set, they leapfrog the Blue Jays. Seattle currently sits in front of fellow playoff contenders in the Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees and Houston Astros in the wild card standings.

The latest MLB power rankings from a variety of news organizations reflect the recent success of the Mariners as the team made the biggest jump this past week in the majority of the lists. A lot of people wrote the Mariners off as another bust in August when it seemed like there was not enough time to make up lost ground in the standings, sitting at .500 at the beginning of the month.

Divish described this feeling in Seattle as a “mixture of excitement and skepticism.”

“Obviously the Mariners have a realistic chance at the postseason with 13 games left to play and fans should be fired up about that,” Divish said. “It doesn’t happen often.”

However, it would be unfair to say that the Mariners have not been in this situation before.

“They’ve had plenty of good runs to get people talking about them and followed up with terrible stretches of play,” Divish said.

This playoff push only continues if the Mariners have success on the field. If they can keep winning however, then there is a good chance that October baseball could be returning to the city of Seattle.for the first time in 15 years.