The numbers that define the Mariners’ 2022 season with playoffs in reach
After 21 long and often painful years, the Mariners’ postseason drought is finally about to end.
As the Mariners enter Friday’s series opener with the Oakland A’s, their magic number sits at just a single game, meaning a Seattle win OR Baltimore loss will have the M’s dancing in the postseason for the first time since 2001.
After last year’s magical ride that saw the Mariners finish with 90 wins and just two games out of a playoff spot, it seemed likely that the M’s would get back to the postseason this year, especially as the playoff field expanded to six teams in each league after years of it being five teams in both the American and National leagues.
But it wasn’t an easy journey for this team to get here, and some numbers help show that. And some other numbers show just how this Mariners team is on the brink of ending more than two decades of playoff-less baseball in the Pacific Northwest.
(Note, all numbers are courtesy of Baseball Reference)
One June 19, the Mariners fell to the Angels 4-0, wrapping up a five-game series where they lost four games to their division rival and fell to a season-worst 10 games under .500.
The good news for the Mariners? That was the worst mark they’d have the rest of the season. But even with 94 games left at this point of 2022, it seemed like Seattle’s woes would continue for another year.
But since that game, the Mariners are 56-31, or a .644 winning percentage.
Where would the Mariners be without their epic 14-game winning streak to end the first half of the season?
Right now, the Mariners are 15 games over .500 and on the verge of eliminating the Orioles from playoff contention. Had they gone even .500 in that 14-game stretch, they’d be on the outside of the AL playoff picture and trying claw to stay in the fight.
Seattle’s streak started on July 2 with a 2-1 win over the A’s to get to four games under .500. That game saw the M’s get a pinch-hit home run from Justin Upton and a walkoff single by Abraham Toro.
Little did we know that would jumpstart a 14-game winning streak that got the team back in postseason contention and now just a game away from a massive party in Seattle.
Last year, a common talking point – or even complaint – with the Mariners was their run differential.
Even while finishing the year with 90 wins and at 18 games over .500, Seattle had a negative run differential at -51.
Different story this year as the lineup, while still inconsistent at times, is improved and the pitching has been among the best in baseball.
Entering Friday, Seattle has a +65 run differential and will almost certainly finish the year in the green in that category.
10 and 5
A key to the Mariners’ success in 2021 was the ability to win close games. They were among the best teams in baseball in 1-run games as well as extra-innings contests.
That has carried over to 2022, with Seattle 10 games over .500 in 1-run games at 31-21, and five games over .500 in extra innings at 10-5, including Thursday’s walkoff winner over Texas.
Seattle has a .554 winning percentage against teams with records over .500, the fourth-best mark against winning teams in baseball this year.
Seattle is one of just five teams to play winning baseball against teams over .500 this year.
This number will change as soon as Friday night, but entering Friday’s game with the A’s, the M’s have a winning percentage of .548 on the year.
They also had a .548 winning percentage prior to the July All-Star Break, and have a .548 mark since the All-Star Break.
4 for 20
A key recipe for the Mariners offensively has been the long ball. This year, Seattle has four players (Eugenio Suárez, Julio Rodríguez, Cal Raleigh and Ty France) with 20 or more home runs. The team hasn’t had that happen since 2019.
Seattle is currently 10th in baseball in home runs in 2022.
8 for 100
Entering Friday, the Mariners have eight position players who have played in 100 or more games. That number will go up to 100 as Dylan Moore enters the day with 99 games played this year.
5 for 21
The Mariners have been carried by their pitching this year, and that’s been especially true of their starting rotation, which has been extremely durable.
Five M’s starters have posted 21 or more starts for the club this year (Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, George Kirby and Chris Flexen). Additionally, trade deadline acquisition Luis Castillo has started 10 games for Seattle, bringing his season total to 24.
This is the first year the Mariners have had five starters with 21 or more starts since 2018.
5 for 100
As you might expect with five starters starting 21 or more games, the M’s have five pitchers with 100 or more innings for them this year, and Castillo in total has well over 100 innings pitched.
No Mariners starting pitcher has landed on the injured list this year or missed a start due to injury. As such, Seattle has had only nine pitchers make starts this year, and two of those were bullpen starts due to doubleheaders.
6 for 10
Six M’s pitchers are averaging 10-plus strikeouts per nine innings. Paul Sewald is knocking on the door there, as he currently boasts a 9.9 K/9 clip.
5 for 3
Five M’s players are at 3 or more WAR this year, not counting Castillo. They are Rodríguez, Suárez, Raleigh, France and Gilbert. Two others in Ray and J.P. Crawford have at least 2.5 WAR, also.
It’s the first time Seattle has had five or more 3-plus WAR players in a single season since 2017.
3 and 9
The Mariners preach controlling the strike zone. That’s evidenced in part by drawing walks at the plate and not walking batters on the mound.
Seattle enters Friday third in walks drawn and ninth in walks allowed.
7, 8 and 11
As noted, the M’s have been carried by their pitching.
They rank seventh in MLB in team ERA, eighth in team WHIP and 11th in opposing batting average.
The Mariners’ magic number is down to one and could end as soon as Friday night with either a win or a Baltimore loss to the New York Yankees.
How about that?
21 to 0
If/when the M’s clinch their postseason spot, their playoff drought evaporates from 21 years to a much more fun number of zero.
And for that, Seattle fans will be very grateful.