2015 Seattle Mariners Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 3/30/2015
Remember when Seattle was a baseball town first and foremost and the Seahawks were pretty much an afterthought? Things have certainly changed in the Pacific Northwest since 2001, the year the Mariners won a record 116 games before falling to the Yankees in the ALCS.
It looked like there might be a dynasty in the making, and while the Mariners did win 93 games each of the next two seasons they didn't make the playoffs and still haven't since. Now they are third in the Seattle-area sports pecking order behind the Seahawks and even the MLS Sounders. However, momentum is a fickle thing and things might be turning back a bit toward the baseball club.
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Under first-year manager Lloyd McClendon, the Mariners finished 87-75 last year, a game out of the wild-card spot and their first winning season since 2009. The addition of All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, while hugely overpaid, clearly had an impact on the franchise, which for the previous several years had been known for Felix Hernandez and little else.
Now with Oakland sort of rebuilding on the fly, the Angels with some question marks and the Rangers already toast with the Yu Darvish injury, many experts believe the Mariners are the team to beat in the AL West and more than a few have Seattle reaching its first World Series. How crazy would that town be in October with Mariners playoff baseball and those crazy Seahawks fans??
Seattle opens the season April 6 at home against the Angels .
Mariners 2015 Projected Lineup
I'm not sure Seattle will ever have a Top-5 offense playing in the heavy air of Seattle and cavernous Safeco Field, but to become a playoff team it needs to be better than 18th in runs, 15th in homers and 21st in slugging as it was last year. The only major lineup losses from last season were outfielders Chris Denorfia and Michael Saunders, first baseman Justin Smoak and first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales. Nothing to see there (Saunders was decent in part-time role).
Seattle acquired center fielder Austin Jackson at last year's trade deadline in the three-way deal with Detroit and Tampa Bay that landed the Tigers David Price, and a full season of Jackson automatically improves the Seattle offense and defense. Jackson will lead off; true he hit just .229 with the Mariners and strikes out too much but the guy still has huge upside and is in his free-agent year. New addition Seth Smith (.266, 12 HRs, 48 RBIs), acquired for pitcher Brandon Maurer from San Diego, will be the primary right fielder and bat second. He'll face right-handers and Justin Ruggiano, acquired from the Cubs, the lefties.
Cano had an MVP-caliber season in his first as a Mariner, hitting .314 with 14 homers and 82 RBIs. He probably won't ever hit 20 dingers again in that park but no reason he couldn't contend for a batting title. The big addition was DH Nelson Cruz, who led the majors with 40 homers last year with Baltimore while knocking in 108. Other teams were scared of giving Cruz four years because 2014 was such a career year and Cruz has a drug suspension in his past, but the Mariners had to have a big bat so they overpaid to get him. His homer total probably drops to 30ish, but even those kinds of guys are rare these days.
Can you call third baseman Kyle Seager (.268, 25 HRs, 96 RBIs) underrated any longer? Probably not after he got a $100 million extension this offseason. He's also great on defense, winning a Gold Glove last year. Smart move locking him up. The rest of the lineup should be: first baseman Logan Morrison (.262, 11 HRs, 36 RBIs), left fielder Dustin Ackley (.245, 14 HRs, 65 RBIs), catcher Mike Zunino (.199, 22 HRS, 60 RBIs) and shortstop Brad Miller (.221, 10 HRs, 36 RBIs). It's too bad this team doesn't play in Coors Field or it might lead the majors in homers. It won't rank 18th in runs again.
Mariners 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
The Mariners were second in the majors in ERA, first in opponents' batting average and fourth in WHIP last season, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be in the ballpark of those numbers again. The team did let veteran Chris Young (12-9, 3.65) walk but his season was not going to be repeated.
On any list of the Top-5 pitchers in baseball has to be Hernandez, and many would say he's the best right-hander in the league. King Felix was edged out in the Cy Young voting by Cleveland's Corey Kluber, with Hernandez going 15-6 with AL-best marks in ERA (2.14) and WHIP (0.92), while finishing second in innings (236.0) and fourth in strikeouts (248). He's just fun to watch unless you bet against him -- which is silly. Good luck finding him as an underdog much this season.
Hernandez is followed by Hisashi Iwakuma (15-9, 3.52), lefties James Paxton (6-4, 3.04) and J.A. Happ (11-11, 4.22) and young Taijuan Walker, arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball. He looked the part in 38 innings last season with a 2.61 ERA. Walker wasn't a lock for the No. 5 spot in the rotation entering camp but has been lights out this spring. Walker would be a Rookie of the Year favorite, but he barely exceeded rookie status in 2014.
Fernando Rodney (48 saves, 2.85 ERA) closes things out. He can be hot or cold, as Tigers or Rays fans know, but Rodney blew only three saves last year.
Mariners Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , Seattle is +1200 to win the World Series (second among AL teams), a co-favorite at +550 to win the pennant with Boston, +125 favorite in the AL West and with an "over/under" wins total of 86.5 (over -130 favorite). Cano is +700 to win AL MVP, Cruz is +3300 to lead the majors in homers and Hernandez is the +260 favorite for AL Cy Young. Cruz has a total of 27.5 homers. Hernandez has 15 wins and 219.5 strikeouts. The Mariners were 91-71 ATS last season and 66-88-8 O/U. On the moneyline, they were +363 units on the year.
Mariners 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Seattle to finish 88-74 and first in the AL West. I don't really see any major weaknesses here. Not a big fan of Happ's, and Paxton could regress a bit in his second year. Rodney scares me a little. But Walker looks amazing, and there's really no easy out in the lineup. Go over the wins, take Seattle for the division and the pennant. Among the player props, go under Cruz (I think he spends some time on the DL as he often did with Texas) but over both on Hernandez. Cano could be in the mix for MVP but may have to win the batting title to take it.
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