Mariners’ Rocky Start

Steven Moore, Assistant Editor

With high expectations coming into the 2022 MLB season, the Seattle Mariners have had a rollercoaster start. As an avid M’s fan, I always like to be as realistic as possible when it comes to the team. If there is one thing I have learned being a Seattle sports fan, it is to never get your hopes up. However, I believe that this team has potential to be great, whether that is this year or in the near future. 

The first homestand of the season was electric. This was the first time the ballpark was at full capacity since the 2019 season. The team went 7-2, which is impressive considering they had to open with three games against Houston, a team that has run the American League West division for years now. Picking up big series wins against Kansas City and Texas played a large role in contributing to the 11-6 start that the Mariners got off to. This was exciting to see because the front office has brought in several new players this year, and it is nice to see them already meshing well together. Big names such as Robbie Ray, Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier were all new additions to the team this year. Ray coming off a Cy Young season in 2021 was the most notable of the three. He had a 13-7 record with a 2.84 ERA, and he was doing this in a tough American League East division. Additionally, Winker and Frazier came off All-Star seasons last year as well. Winker raked last year, with a .305 average with 24 home runs and 32 doubles last season with Cincinnati. Likewise, Frazier put up video game-like numbers at the plate last year in his tenure with Pittsburgh and San Diego. He batted .305 as well, with a .368 OBP and 36 doubles. 

Another interesting addition to the lineup is power hitter Eugenio Suarez. Suarez had been an All-Star back in 2018, hitting 34 home runs, 104 RBIs and still maintaining a .283 average. Suarez and Winker came to Seattle in a package deal in exchange for a prospect package and money considerations. These three bats in the hot Mariners lineup coming off a playoff push last year made it seem like they were set coming into this season. Past statistics aside, it was now time for these guys to perform in a new city, in front of new fans, and for a completely different coaching staff. This said, Winker, Suarez and Frazier have all had their fair share of struggles this season along with the rest of the lineup. Coming home after the first road trip, Winker was batting .167, Frazier .182, and Suarez .178. This was not a good first impression from guys who are supposed to carry our lineup along with Julio Rodriguez, J.P Crawford, Mitch Haniger and Ty France. Senior Michael Moore says, “I like Suarez a lot so far, but Winker and Frazier have been disappointing. I think they’re both talented enough to get it going so I am not worried.” This is a common opinion in the Mariner community. These early struggles do not define these All-Star caliber players whatsoever, and it has started to show early on in the month of May. 

The Mariners dropped in the standings significantly after they dropped eight of 10 games of their Florida-Houston road trip. This was really concerning considering how well the rotation and bullpen had been performing up until then. On the positive side, both Miami and Tampa Bay have a couple of the strongest pitching staffs in the MLB. Facing guys like Sandy Alcantara, Elieser Hernandez and Jose Luzardo is a great test for any team, and getting one win in Miami against these three guys is a good sign, when they have all shown dominating stuff early on this season. It is also a good experience for our young athletes like Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic to have, facing the best of the best early on in the season. However, once the M’s came back to Seattle, their schedule had not gotten any easier. They opened the homestand with Houston, then four against Tampa Bay, and three against Philidelphia. The M’s continued their struggles, only managing to scratch out two wins in ten games against the three teams. At this point, a lot of Mariners fans were down on the team, although there have been a couple bright spots in the lineup.

Big names like Ty France, J.P Crawford and Julio Rodriguez have single handedly carried the run production so far this year. France was named American League player of the week three weeks ago, and he has been on a tear all season. He is batting .331 with 25 RBI’s and five home runs already this year. He has also been playing a phenomenal first base as well. Crawford has been putting up similar numbers, batting .322 with 11 RBI’s and four home runs. He is coming off a gold glove season, and his bat has started to get hot in these first 35 games, a great sign to see. If he can put the swing and the defense together simultaneously, I think he can be one of the best shortstops in the American League. Sophomore Eli Massaman says, “J.P has been one of our only guys we can rely on to get hits for us. I have enjoyed watching him improve in his time in Seattle.” Improvement is not only the key word behind Crawford’s success, but it is the cornerstone of this team’s identity. 

Last major note that should please all M’s fans is how young star Julio Rodriguez has looked over the last 20 games. Rodriguez is a top 10 prospect in all of baseball, and he has shown glimpses of why this is so. He started out the season really poorly, batting under .120 for the first 10 games of the season, with over half of his outs being strikeouts. Since then, he has been hitting the cover off the ball, batting .321, with two home runs, 13 RBI’s and five doubles. Out of everything, this is the most positive thing to see because of the struggles we saw Kelenic go through early on, so it is good to see young talent producing at the Major League level in Seattle. Rodriguez went 4/4 with a home run in the road opener against the Mets on May 15. Not only is he a great player, his personality is contagious. Junior Mark Longo says, “I like his personality just as much as his game. He is a great clubhouse guy.” This is true, as he always has a smile on his face even through adversity. It is a great trait to have on the team. Freshman Ruby Phung adds, “His style of play will fit well with the team.” It is exciting having an electric young player like Julio Rodriguez, and his future holds nothing but bright things. 

Overall, the Mariners struggles should only be temporary because of the amount of talent the team has this year. A good start to the month of May is a good sign that things are improving. Mitch Haniger is assumed to be coming back at the end of the month, which will help the lineup as well. Kyle Lewis has almost completed his rehab assignment and is almost ready to go. Things will start to look up for the Mariners soon, and I am excited to see how the team develops.