How The 2022 Mariners Compare To The 2021 Mariners

I can’t remember specifically when I did this last, but I do remember that it was highly negative. At that time, the offense was so poor, we were looking dreadful by comparison to last year’s team that won 90 games. Now that we’ve turned everything around – and now that we’re at the All Star Break – I think it’s cool to look and see how much better things appear.

Before I get to that, it should be noted that the Mariners just suck in the month of May. According to the trends, that’s something that carried over in spades. Last year, we were 13-15 with a -43 run differential (on the year, we were -51 in run differential, which is a crazy-high percentage of our overall run differential in one month’s time); this year, we were 10-18 with a -25 run differential (on the year, we are +36, or +61 in all months besides May). In April & June of last year, we were five games over .500; in April & June of this year, we’re four games over .500.

Of course, the biggest difference so far is the month of July. Last year, we were 14-10; this year, we’re 14-1. Our best month last year was September, when we went 18-8; it would be a considerable disappointment if this July ends worse than last year’s September.

I seem to recall the last time I did this comparison, we were right around .500 in one-run games. Well, we’ve since improved to 21-12. We’re 9-1 in one-run games in this current 22-3 streak we’re on, which seems to jibe with that. We’ve also improved to 14-8 in blowouts (games decided by 5+ runs), which again is a huge improvement over last year’s 11-28 record in such games.

The craziest thing so far is that based on our +36 run differential, we’re right where we would be expected to be recordwise, at 51-42.

Our ERA is improved: 3.53 over 4.30. That corresponds to our opposing batting average and WHIP both being a tick better than last year. Even better, our hitting has gone up. We were, I believe, dead last (or very close to it) a month ago. Now, we’re 11th in BA (.236), 4th in OBP (.319), and 7th in SLG (.390) in the American League, which is good for 6th in OPS (.709). Last year, we were last in BA (.226), 14th in OBP (.303), and 14th in SLG (.385), which was good for 14th in OPS (.688). This is very encouraging! There’s still almost half a season left to improve upon those numbers! There’s also still almost half a season left to regress back to where we were last year, but that’s neither here nor there.

Something that feels very similar this year compared to last is the perceived unsustainability of it all. Teams with negative run differentials like we had last year don’t win 90 games very often. Likewise, teams this … average when it comes to talent on paper, they don’t regularly win 22 out of 25 games. It’s taken quite a mammoth effort to improve to where we are now, compared to where we were just a month ago. Now, you can argue this is a better team than it was a month ago, and I won’t fight you on it. But, where does the truth reside? Are the 2022 Mariners closer to what they were in mid-June? Or, are they closer to where they are now, in mid-July? Because that will determine where this team goes the rest of the season.

Are the Mariners fundamentally improved, through sheer development of younger players and positive regression of veterans? Or, have they just been unsustainably lucky this past month, and will revert to being more of the .500 ballclub we all expected them to be when the season started? Maybe this year is just one of those wild rollercoaster rides, where we experience dark lows and joyous highs, but we ultimately end right around 81-81.

Maybe it’s the homer in me, but I tend to see the positive in this team going forward. That doesn’t mean I see this .880 winning percentage continuing indefinitely. But, to get back to 90 wins, the Mariners just have to go 39-30 the rest of the way. That’s extremely do-able. Not only because of the development of the young players or the positive regression of he veterans, but because of the guys we’re soon to see return from injury, not to mention whoever we end up trading for by the deadline later this month. I have every reason to believe we can get back to 90 wins. In fact, I think that’s a number we’re likely to surpass. And, if that’s the case, I think the playoffs are a mortal lock, barring a disastrous string of poor injury luck.

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