2018 Seattle Mariners Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
I'm not mad at the Seattle Mariners at this point. Just disappointed. For more years than I can count I have believed that for the respective year the team was close to a breakthrough. When I was a kid their AAA team played just down the street from me, so I saw so many young studs - Edgar Martinez, Tino Martinez, A-Rod, Danny Tartabull, Jay Buhner, Omar Vizquel, even Ken Griffey Jr. for an extremely brief time - come through that I figured bright days were around the corner. And I'm still waiting for them to go around that corner.
The last time they made the playoffs was 2001 - the year Ichiro was a rookie. And while they have had some bright spots - they have won 85 games or more six times since then - they have struggled to put it all together. So, will this be the year? Probably not, but I'll still put my heart and soul out there to be stomped on.
Mariners 2018 Projected Lineup
This team spends a whole lot of money on salaries - more than $160 million this year at this point. And they just aren't getting enough for the money. The highest-paid hitter, Robinson Cano, can't hit lefties at all, and at 35 he is a shadow of what he has been. Kyle Seager isn't worth $19 million, either. Nelson Cruz is the one guy who really earns his cash among the big contracts, but he's 37 and won't be the best DH in baseball forever. The team is in a place now where they are likely locked into these expensive older guys and have to hope that they still have some pop in their bats. With baseball increasingly becoming a young man's sport, that's not an ideal trend.
The team added Dee Gordon - another guy flirting with a slip out of his prime given his age - to man centerfield. He should be excited getting out of the baseball hell that is Miami, and he will help the team be more aggressive on the basepaths, but he's not the most dynamic guy out there. Like so much of this roster, there is no real upside, so all we can hope is that he can replicate some of his best years.
Shortstop Jean Segura isn't as old - he's only 27 - but he is expensive. He came to the team last year after a career year in his lone season in Arizona. He was well off his 2016 production last year, but he still had his second-best year stat wise. If he can move back towards those earlier production numbers then he could be a much-needed boost in this lineup.
Yonder Alonso is gone at first base, and Mike Ford will likely replace him. I'm far from the biggest Alonso fan, but Ford is a 25-year-old rookie and a question mark in a key position. Another alternative there is Ryon Healy, a 26-year-old who they picked up from the A's. He's a third baseman, but Seager has that spot mostly locked up. Healy had 25 home runs last year in his first full season in the majors, so there is some promise there. Still, the position is a question mark.
Mariners 2018 Projected Rotation and Closer
There are very few pitchers I have ever liked more than Felix Hernandez, so his obvious and painful decline is hard to watch. He's just not that good anymore - at least not by the huge standard he has played up to for so long. He's struggling to stay healthy, and his fastball has fallen off a cliff. It's sad - and frustrating for management given he's the highest-paid player on the team. He's no longer the No. 1 starter - James Paxton is - but it would still be handy if he could eat some strong innings. That is far from certain.
The backend of the rotation isn't great. Mike Leake was really strong for the brief period he was with the team after being acquired last summer. However, he hadn't previously looked like that for most of five years, so there is no guarantee he can keep it up. Erasmo Ramirez is just a guy, and at his best he can deliver decent innings with some consistency - and he's hurt right now. Marco Gonzales is a guy with some upside - especially if his new delivery shows promise - but he's far from a lock. The rotation could be anything from really solid to really ugly behind Paxton. And if the new ace of the squad gets hurt then the wheels could fall right off.
After being quite good in 2016, the bullpen was pretty average and forgettable last year. Sadly, I expect them to trend more towards 2017 than 2016 this year.
Mariners Futures Odds
The oddsmakers are lukewarm on this team - they are at +3300 at BetOnline to win the World Series, which puts them in the middle of the pack. Thirteen teams have lower odds. They are tied with the Jays as the sixth choice to win the American League at +1600 and are the third choice to win the AL West at +800, though well behind the Angels and especially the Astros. Nelson Cruz is at +2800 to win the home run crown, which makes him relevant but well behind the favorites. The team's season win total sits at 81.5, with the "over" having a small edge.
Mariners 2018 Predictions
I obviously want to really like this team. It feels, though, like there are more questions than answers. What would be the best for them in so many ways would be for them to really struggle. They could sell off any pieces that have value, trim the bulk out of the payroll a bit - though Fernandez has another year after this one and Cano three, so their payroll issues are going to be long term - and start to build a product that makes more sense. As much as it pains me to say it, I think there is strong value in going "under" the season win total.
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