We share five observations from the Seattle Mariners’ surprising but welcome start to the 2019 campaign.
Following the four-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals, the Seattle Mariners now have a league-leading record of 13-2 and their best ever start to a season through 15 games. No matter how much of a loyal fan you are, there was no one predicting such a good start to what is meant to be a season of transition for a rebuilding franchise.
Of course, this doesn’t mean Mariners fans shouldn’t enjoy the ride however long it lasts. In keeping with this spirit, here are five positive takeaways from the team’s fast start to the 2019 campaign.
1) No mercy for the World Series champions
After opening the regular season in Japan, the Mariners returned home to face the Boston Red Sox in a four-game series. Even though the series was at home, many fans feared for what lay ahead against last year’s World Series Champions.
In the end there was little to worry about, as the M’s smashed their way to a 3-1 series win. Over the course of the four games they scored 34 runs, at an average 8.5 per contest.
As surprising as the results might have been, the Mariners should have really swept the series – something which even the Red Sox themselves admitted. The only blip was a 7-6 loss in Game 2, where they stormed out to a 6-1 lead early and still led 6-4 entering the final inning, before giving up a three-run homer to pinch hitter Mitch Moreland.
2) Out-slugging the opposition
It turns out the scoring blitz against the Red Sox was a sign of things to come. The Mariners have been quite simply out-slugging every team they have faced.
Following series against the Royals, the M’s are leading the Majors with 117 runs; 21 more than the second-placed Los Angeles Dodgers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Seattle also lead the league with 36 home run and 116 RBIs. (In respect of the home runs, they are the first ever team to hit a homer in their opening 15 games of the season.)
It’s been a necessity as well, with the Mariners also having given up the sixth-most runs in the league following Thursday night (75). No matter how this season plays out, you can’t accuse the team of being boring to watch.
3) A triple delight
There are so many offensive threats you could mention in the Mariners’ lineup, but let’s start with Domingo Santana, who is making an early push for his best season yet in the Majors. He leads the team with 19 RBIs — tied for most in the Majors following Thursday night — and has an extremely impressive slash line of .349/.423/.587.
One player with an even more sensational slash line on the Mariners is Tim Beckham, with .347/.429/.694. Add in a 1.122 OPS, along with four homers and 11 RBIs, and you have another player taking aim at a career year.
People may also want to point towards Jay Bruce, with his 13 RBIs and team-leading seven homers. Considering this has been done on a poor batting average of .204 through 13 appearances this season, the three-time All-Star is certainly making every hit count.
4) Settling in as the new number one
The 2018 season offered glimpses of what Marco Gonzales was capable of, as he started a career-best 29 games and recorded a team-high 13 wins among all pitchers. He was named as the Mariners’ opening day starter in 2019, but no one knew quite what to expect.
So far it’s been all good for Gonzales, who became the first pitcher in the Majors to reach four wins (albeit helped by the early start to the M’s season in Japan). Through his 4-0 start, he has a 3.16 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 16 strikeouts.
No one can predict how long the 27-year-old’s hot start will continue, with there already being subtle signs that his early success isn’t sustainable. However, as with the team as a whole, it’s best just to enjoy the southpaw’s performances.
5) Experienced arm for the transition
When the Mariners decided to go all-in on the rebuild, they were still going to need players to help keep the team at least somewhat competitive. Enter Mike Leake and his nine years of Major League experience.
At the very least, Leake is a durable innings-eater, having averaged 29 starts and 181 innings per year entering the 2019 campaign. He also provides much-needed veteran leadership.
Into the bargain, the 31-year-old has also looked excellent in the early going this year, with a 3-0 record, 4.15 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 17 strikeouts through three starts and 17.1 innings. In a season where the early returns are not expected to be maintained by the team as a whole, Leake is one of your best bets to be an exception to this prediction.
What has impressed and/or surprised you most about the Seattle Mariners’ play so far in 2019? At what point should people start taking this team seriously? Let us know in the comments section below.