If you are reading from Lookout Landing, please know that this article seems to be neither bitter nor cruel. I simply offer my perspective after watching the A’s lose 3 out of 4 to a Mariners team that is now just 1 and 1/2 games back in the wild-card. Good on them, and bad on the A’s for frittering away opportunities.
But one thing baseball has taught us over the years is that good 1-run fortune is generally not sustainable and catches up to you over the course of a long season. Seattle has built its 54-46 record mostly on the strength of insane success in one-run games (23-8) and in extra-inning affairs (10-1).
But folks, if you are going to spend your time anxious about losing a wild-card spot to the Mariners, take a look at who is trying to take them to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
There is Dylan Moore, a second baseman who is batting .185/.272/.353 for the season. Splitting time with him, bouncing around from second base to left field and back, is the amazing Shed Long Jr, he of the .178/.239/.356 batting line and below average defense at both positions.
Catcher Tom Murphy is only over .200 (.205/.290/.381) after this weekend, when batting against a team that is allergic to retiring light hitting catchers. His alternate is a good prospect, Cal Raleigh, but so far Raleigh is batting just .130 in the big leagues.
Luis Torrens may be designated to hit, but he does so mostly at Mitch Moreland levels, albeit with more power: .227/.291/.470. Wheee.
Seattle has its star prospect, Jarred Kelenic, in the outfield and his struggles have been well chronicled. He did slap a single to left off of Jake Diekman to bring his batting average back over .100.
Jake Bauers fits in nicely with his .219/.284/.286 offensive contributions and below-average outfield defense.
Meanwhile, Kyle Seager is solid but at age 33 even he is not making any kind of star contribution in 2021 (.216/.287/.415, 95 wRC+, 1.8 WAR). Similarly, J P Crawford is having a nice season but nothing spectacular (.263/.323/..363, 96 wRC+, 1.3 WAR). Only Mitch Haniger really can lay claim to being anyone special in their lineup, and I would add that personally I think Ty France is a pretty good hitter.
As for the pitching, there is talent in the rotation but we saw how raw Logan Gilbert is and Marco Gonzales, supposedly their stabilizing veteran, is having a terrible season. With Yusei Kikuchi and Chris Flexon having breakout years it’s a good rotation but it’s neither as good as Oakland’s nor good enough to overcome the endless slop that parades up and down the M’s lineup and in the field.
I will give credit where it’s due: the Mariners’ bullpen is good and has some depth. But they can only thrive if given leads every night by the combination of a bad offense, meh defense, and decent rotation.
My point is this… tonight the Mariners begin a series with Houston, and you would be well advised to root for Seattle to bring the A’s back to within 5 games of the division instead of 6. And then going forward, as you keep an eye on the Wild Card race — as you will and shoud — check out where the Blue Jays are and follow scores of the Yankees games. But while the Mariners deserve credit for a very strong first 100 games, even though they currently sit 8 games over .500 I am still putting the over/under for their season on 81 wins.
That’s the team I see on the field. What I don’t foresee is a team that can keep winning 3/4 of their one-run games, and 90% of extra-inning games As compared to the likelihood that a team that gives up more runs than they allow (52 more so far this season) is going to hit a skid, lose 6 in a row, maybe play 500 ball for a while, then lose another 4 in a row, and miss the postseason for the 20th consecutive year.
The A’s should indeed be worried that they couldn’t beat Seattle more than once over a four-day weekend when every game was there for the taking. What they shouldn’t be worried about is that the Mariners are going to be the team to catch them in the end.