Check out Daniel Mueller’s 2022 Season Preview article for the Mariners here.
Image: Ted S. Warren / AP
2022 Record: 90-72 (.556 win%, 2nd in Division)
2022 Payroll: $128,709,907 (21st)
1. CF Julio Rodriguez, .284 AVG/.345 OBP/.509 SLG, 5.3 fWAR
2. 1B Ty France, .276 AVG/.340 OBP/.437 SLG, 2.5 fWAR
3. RF Mitch Haniger, .246 AVG/.308 OBP/.429 SLG, 0.8 fWAR
4. 3B Eugenio Suarez, .236 AVG/.332 OBP/.459 SLG, 4.1 fWAR
5. DH Carlos Santana, .192 AVG/.293 OBP/.400 SLG, 0.7 fWAR
6. C Cal Raleigh, .211 AVG/.284 OBP/.489 SLG, 4.2 fWAR
7. SS J.P. Crawford, .243 AVG/.339 OBP/.336 SLG, 2.0 fWAR
8. LF Jesse Winker, .219 AVG/.344 OBP/.344 SLG, 0.4 fWAR
9. 2B Adam Frazier, .238 AVG/.301 OBP/.311 SLG, 1.1 fWAR
10. UTL Dylan Moore, .224 AVG/.368 OBP/.385 SLG, 2.1 fWAR
1. Luis Castillo*, 65.1 IP/3.17 ERA/1.10 WHIP, 1.5 fWAR
2.Robbie Ray, 189.0 IP/3.71 ERA/1.19 WHIP, 1.8 fWAR
3. Logan Gilbert, 185.2 IP/3.20 ERA/1.18 WHIP, 3.2 fWAR
4. George Kirby, 130.0 IP/3.39 ERA/1.21 WHIP, 3.0 fWAR
5. Marco Gonzales, 183.0 IP/4.13 ERA/1.33 WHIP, 0.1 fWAR
*Acquired from Cincinnati Reds July 29th, 2022.
2022 Top 4 Relievers:
1. Paul Sewald, 64.0 IP/2.67 ERA/0.77 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR
2. Diego Castillo, 54.1 IP/3.64 ERA/1.14 WHIP, 0.3 fWAR
3. Penn Murfee, 69.1 IP/2.99 ERA/0.95 WHIP, 0.7 fWAR
4. Andrés Muñoz, 65.0 IP/2.49 ERA/0.89 WHIP, 1.9 fWAR
Regular Season Recap:
Following an impressive 90-72 campaign in 2021, the Seattle Mariners looked to come back even stronger with an upgraded roster and the highest hopes they’ve had this entire decade. Possessing arguably the most talented roster they’ve had in years, Seattle looked to knock Houston off their AL West throne and capture their first division title since 2001, all while ending their playoff drought that went all the way back to that same season.
Unfortunately, a slow start to the season ended any real belief in achieving this, and the team was forced to fight an uphill battle throughout most of the summer. Ultimately, the team would once again finish 90-72, good for 5th best in the AL and a Wild Card berth.
Saying that the Mariners got off to a rough start would be an understatement. By June 1st, the team was 21-29 and 4th in their division. The only AL West team worse than them in this span was the Oakland Athletics, who had an all-time disappointing season. For a fanbase that was looking to capitalize on the momentum generated in 2021, this left a lot of questions. Much to the chagrin of these fans, pretty much all of these questions could be answered in one word: regression.
Robbie Ray, the team’s opening day starter and recipient of a huge off-season contract extension, saw his stats regress across the board. Chris Flexen and Marco Gonzales suffered a similar fate, and by the end of May, the pitching staff had given up a league-worst 61 home runs.
On the other side of the mound, the Mariners’ offense also looked like a shadow of its former self. Jesse Winker was hitting without the power that he was known for in Cincinnati, and Jarred Kelenic, a supposedly elite prospect, was hitting so poorly that by the middle of May he was back down to AAA. Combining this with Injuries to Mitch Haniger and Tom Murphy, the Mariners moved backwards in just about every way possible, causing many fans to worry about whether or not the team had peaked in the previous year.
Fortunately for them, the Mariners were stellar in the month of July, and in the 25 games leading up to the All-Star break, they went 22-3, improving their record to 51-42. Their biggest weakness was now their greatest strength, as the pitching during this stretch was phenomenal. The pitching staff had a combined ERA of 2.45, the lowest in all of MLB during that time.
Furthermore, the team chemistry had improved greatly, and for the first time in the season, their playoff dreams finally looked like they may come to fruition. Headed into the break the M’s sat comfortably in the 2nd AL wildcard spot, and were only a half game back of the Rays for the first spot.
A 39-30 finish to the season after the All-Star break was enough to clinch the 2nd Wild Card spot, and the infamous 21 year playoff drought had finally come to an end. The Mariners acquired a new ace in the form of Luis Castillo in a July 29 trade with the Reds, and were starting to look scary. They weren’t quite as dominant as they could’ve been, but they were able to ride the momentum all the way to the postseason.
Despite all the peaks and valleys, the Mariners wound up about where they were expected to, with a well-earned playoff spot. Although fans were happy about this, some were left scratching their heads, asking “What if?” What if the team didn’t have such a poor start to the season? What if they looked like that team in July for the whole season? The 2022 campaign as a whole can be characterized as a success, but Mariners fans know this was nowhere near their best.
M-SABR Predicted Record (86-76) vs. Actual (90-72):
Mariners season preview author Daniel Mueller pretty much hit the nail on the head with his record prediction. It’s no secret that the 2021 Mariners greatly overperformed, and although the 2022 squad finished with the same record this year, there is certainly a feeling that this record was more deserved.
Mueller’s prediction about the development of the young core would’ve been spot on had it not been for Jarred Kelenic and his lackluster season. Logan Gilbert solidified himself as one of the best arms in the rotation, and looks like he will be reliable for seasons to come.
Not much really needs to be said about the Mariners’ other young star, Julio Rodriguez. The young outfielder had a season for the ages and is the runaway favorite for AL ROY. Kelenic, however, had a forgettable season that included low batting averages and stints in Tacoma.
Probably the most impressive prediction was that of the farm system being used to acquire a big piece at the trade deadline. The team sent their #1 prospect, Noelvi Marte, to Cincinnati in a July trade for ace Luis Castillo.The Mariners are certainly in “win now” mode, so dealing Marte to the rebuilding Reds was seen as a necessary sacrifice that benefitted both sides of the trade.
The M’s first trip to the playoffs since 2001 resulted in two sweeps. The first, a 2-0 Wild Card Series win over the Toronto Blue Jays, was enjoyable for Seattle fans. Luis Castillo pitched 7.1 innings of shutout ball to lift the Mariners to victory 4-0. The offense showed up in Game Two, scoring ten runs, but the pitching gave up nine. Still, though, Seattle beat the young stars of Toronto in the minimum amount of games.
The ALDS, the second sweep of the postseason involving Seattle, was closer than the result would indicate. Everyone knows that the first two games were close until the end, but won single handedly by Astro’s slugger Yordan Alvarez with two go-ahead home runs in the late stages of each game. Game Three in Seattle was an 18-inning 1-0 white knuckle affair. The M’s fought valiantly, but ended up losing to a superior opponent.
Surprise of the Season:
When it comes to the surprise of the season, it’s really not much of a surprise. CF Julio Rodriguez was electric, and was both an elite hitter and base runner this season. The 21 year old surged to the top of the American League ROY race with 28 home runs and 25 stolen bases. In terms of American League Outfielders, only Aaron Judge and Mike Trout could best Rodriguez’s 5.3 WAR.
Not only did his elite play help spark the Mariners to a mid-season surge, but also his vibrant character and personality. The Dominican slugger grabbed the world’s attention with a fantastic Home Run Derby performance, which culminated in him finishing in 2nd place. The center fielder gave Mariners fans something to be excited about for years to come, and, most importantly, Rodriguez helped make Mariners baseball fun this year.
Players We Watched:
It’s safe to say that Robbie Ray didn’t have exactly the season we were expecting. His ERA went from 2.84 in 2021 to a disappointing 3.71 in 2022, but his 10.1 SO/9 was still the 5th best in the American League.
Perhaps it was only natural for the 31 year old to regress after such a strong 2021 campaign, but that’s not to say Ray was a bad pitcher. Ray played a pivotal role in the pitching staff’s domination just before the All-Star Game, and helped the Mariners bounce back from their rough start to the season.
It seems kind of backwards that I picked Rodriguez as the surprise of the season even though we were told to watch him, right? Well, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that no one expected him to be this good, this quickly.
We all saw what happened to Kelenic this year, so it’s not like being a top rated prospect means guaranteed instant success in the majors. Rodriguez was excellent this year, and will look to continue improving in the offseason and become one of the superstars of the league in the coming years.
France had himself a pretty solid year all in all. His hitting wasn’t quite as good this year, as the first baseman declined by at least 15 points in BA, OBP, and OPS compared to his 2021 stats. However, his fielding was still top-tier and he earned his first all-star bid this year. The Mariners will hope that he can take another step forward with his offense next year, as they look to build a core that’s going to be around for a while.
Seattle certainly has some decisions to make this offseason, the biggest of which may be in regards to Mitch Haniger, who will become a free agent at the conclusion of the postseason. Haniger was quite successful in 2021, and signed a 1-year, $7.75 million contract in April in order to avoid arbitration. That contract is currently set to expire, and Seattle will have to choose whether or not to retain the 31 year old.
It’s hard to let Haniger’s 2022 numbers define him, given that he was dealing with injuries pretty much the whole summer. There is certainly a lot of raw talent already in the Mariners’ outfield, headlined by Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic, and Dylan Moore.
However, these players aren’t quite as developed as the Mariners would like them to be, and they could go for keeping an experienced guy like Haniger in the outfield. The team’s decision regarding Haniger could potentially go either way, and is something to keep an eye on.
Another interesting story will be that of the bullpen, as multiple players could be dealt in order to fill holes in the offense. Chris Flexen, one of these candidates, began the season in the starting pitching rotation, but has since been demoted to the bullpen.
He would certainly be a handy arm to keep around in the bullpen, but there’s also the idea that he could be dealt in exchange for more offensive weapons, given that the team as a whole only had a .230 batting average in 2022.
In addition to Flexen, it’s possible that either Paul Sewald or Diego Castillo could be dealt as well.
The primary reason that these bullpen pitchers would be traded would be to fill holes in the Mariners’ infield. Adam Frazier at second base had a particularly weak year, and could be on the way out, but that of course leads to the question of who would be chosen to replace him.
The free agent market for second basemen isn’t shaping up to be too lucrative, so if Seattle wants someone, they may need to take even more from their farm system. Over at shortstop, the Mariners will have to decide whether or not they want to designate J.P. Crawford as their guy, or look to explore the market.
Crawford by no means had a bad year, but when Trea Turner, Xander Boegarts, Dansby Swanson, and Carlos Correa are all free agents, can you blame Seattle for wanting to shop around?
The good news for Seattle is that their starting pitching rotation shouldn’t need too much work this year. Robbie Ray and Luis Castillo both recently signed long-term contracts, and Logan Gilbert and Marco Gonzales aren’t going anywhere, either. The Mariners will certainly have the option to focus primarily on their offense this offseason, but this could come at the expense of their bullpen.
If the Mariners can plug a couple potential holes in the infield, and come up with a smart plan for how to move forward with their outfield, it’s likely they could come back even stronger next year.
This team’s young core is certainly one to build around, so it will be exciting to see what Seattle tries to do this offseason. There’s no doubt they have the potential for a bright, bright future, but at this point, only time will tell.
Something to Watch:
Something interesting to watch will be the health of catcher Cal Raleigh. Following the Game 3 defeat to Houston, Raleigh revealed that he had been playing through both a broken thumb and a torn ligament in his left hand. This was the first time that the media had gotten a true sense of the severity of the injury that he was playing through since September.
It’s pretty remarkable, considering he hit the home run to end the Mariners two decade postseason drought! Raleigh intends to meet with a specialist in the coming days in order to determine how to go about recovering from the injuries.
You can’t help but feel for him. It must suck to play through that bad of an injury just to get swept. It’s even worse when you consider the already heart-breaking nature of that 18 inning loss. Raleigh demonstrated an admirable amount of dedication to his team, and I certainly wish him a speedy recovery.
Categories: 2022 Season Review, Articles, Post-COVID
M’s have a dynamite rotation, have a proven ability to foster bullpen arms but offense has always been a struggle for this FO regime. The offense is very reliant on HRs to generate offense and the high BA guys they brought in with Frazier and Winker struggled a great deal, even on the road. With Castillo, Ray, Gilbert and Kirby they don’t need much offense but this team needs to be solid at least 1-7 in the batting order to compete with Houston.
Only a 162 days until Opening Day!
Well done. I appreciate the read and observations.
thank you jesuscock