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Jerry Dipoto Show: Mariners fit the mold of MLB’s recent surprise teams

The Mariners' 2020 record would have equaled 72 wins in a normal 162-game season. (Getty)

The Mariners aren’t entering the 2021 season with playoff expectations. In fact, it’s pretty easy to find MLB insider predictions with them finishing lower in the American League West than their third-place standing in the division in 2020.

Mariners Preview: Mix of youth and vets in harmony and on a mission

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto had some thoughts on that Thursday on 710 ESPN Seattle during a special opening day edition of The Jerry Dipoto Show.

“We’re a little more bullish on what our guys might be doing – which isn’t a surprise. You know, everybody loves their own players,” Dipoto told 710’s Danny and Gallant. “But it’s really hard to project young teams and what they’re going to do. … With our team, a young team is virtually impossible for the public systems to project because we don’t have enough information yet for that to happen.”

Dipoto was alluding to how the lack of MLB experience for many of Seattle’s players hinder such projections, and he mentioned that it’s actually become something of a regularity for rebuilding teams to emerge as playoff contenders before they were projected to.

“I think the systems typically get it generally right when they’re projecting win totals overall. They get teams in the right ‘bucket,’ and then when you look in the bucket of young clubs in a league, this is where the surprises usually come from,” he said. “You can look back at so many of the teams that have come out of rebuilds over these last handful of years, teams like the Braves and like the Astros and like the Cubs, and generally speaking they were a year ahead of their projections.”

It’s an interesting point Dipoto makes.

The Mariners went 27-33 in the shortened 60-game 2020 season, and if you apply that record to a full 162-game season, the Mariners’ win total multiplies out to 72.9. And as far as this season, they’re expected to have at least a few of their top prospects debut along the way, most notably outfielder Jarred Kelenic and starting pitcher Logan Gilbert.

So how does that compare to the teams Dipoto mentioned?

The Braves went from a 72-win team in 2017 to winning the first of three straight NL East titles in 2018, which was same year superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. made his MLB debut. The Astros finished 70-92 in 2014, then jumped to 86-76 and a wild card berth in the playoffs in 2015, the same year star shortstop Carlos Correa debuted. And at the same time, the Cubs jumped from 73-89 in 2014 to 97-65, aided by the arrival of slugging third baseman Kris Bryant in 2015.

Dipoto isn’t making any promises, but like he said, “everybody loves their own players.”

“I don’t know if this is that year for us,” he said, “but my hope is that it is. And frankly we have the talent to do it, we just have to stay healthy.”

You can hear the full Jerry Dipoto Show in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter.

More Mariners season previews from 710Sports.com

• Mariners’ opening day roster: Lewis to IL, Kikuchi gets Game 2
• Mariners Table Setter: Three X-factors for this season
• Which Mariners player is most likely to have a bounce back season?
• Drayer: Gonzales vows Mariners are ‘prepared to make a statement’
• Groz: Why this is the most important Mariners season of the last decade
• M’s haul from Padres, led by Trammell and France, may speed up rebuild
• Kelenic won’t make roster but focused on getting call ‘as soon as possible’
• Mitch Haniger is back in form, and he’s leading not just by example

Danny and Gallant Show