The Seattle Mariners made some noise early in the season, leading the American League West as late as June and coming within a half-game of the division lead in July, but it was ultimately the same story with some fancier trappings. The longest postseason drought in North American sports has extended another season.
Despite a 13-0 blowout win over the Rangers on Saturday, the Mariners were eliminated from postseason contention due to the Oakland Athletics’ 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. At 85-69, Seattle currently sits 8.5 games behind the A’s for the second wild-card spot and 12 games behind the Astros in the division race.
It will now be 17 seasons since the Mariners last made the playoffs in 2001, a streak longer than any team in MLB, as well as the NFL, NBA or NHL. Yes, even the Cleveland Browns.
What went wrong for the Seattle Mariners?
Well, for starters, the Baltimore Ravens could have beaten the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 of the NFL season last year and prevented the Bills from making the postseason, which snapped their own 17-year playoff drought. That would have saved the Mariners from this indignity.
As far as more controllable factors go, there were plenty that went wrong for the Mariners and helped cancel out a breakout season from Mitch Haniger, strong campaigns from plenty of everyday hitters and the most prolific closer in baseball with Edwin Diaz.
First and foremost was Robinson Cano receiving an 80-game suspension for PEDs in May, costing the Mariners one of their most important players for half the season. Cano eventually returned in August and currently holds a very respectable .301/.379/.473, but that kind of production is difficult to replace.
A potential breakout year from James Paxton was derailed by injuries, with the big left-hander hitting the disabled list in July with back inflammation and in August with a forearm contusion.
Felix Hernandez, another important presence in the rotation and the Mariners’ highest-paid player, continued his slide, currently holding a 5.46 ERA and having been demoted to the bullpen at one point.
It also didn’t help to see a certain player that the Mariners felt they had a legitimate shot at signing instead choose a division rival and put up one of the most remarkable rookie seasons in MLB history.
Stuff like that going wrong can sink a season, even if topping the Astros for the division or beating out a competitive wild-card race might have already been a tall order. But at least we’ll have Dee Gordon’s fauxback uniform.
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