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MLB Power Rankings: Improving Mariners just won't go away

by | Baseball Writer
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More MLB: Top 10s: Best of AL West | Expert Picks | Latest news | Fantasy news

Last season's feel-good story leading up to the playoffs was the Pittsburgh Pirates, ending their two-decade streak without a winning season and getting to Game 5 of the NLDS against the eventual NL champs.

This season, there's potential for three pretty great stories.

The longest playoff drought in baseball belongs to the Royals, who haven't been to the postseason since 1985. They are contending, but we've covered them recently.

The next longest drought belongs to the Blue Jays, who haven't been to the postseason since Joe Carter's iconic blast to win the 1993 World Series. We've covered the Blue Jays recently, too.

Next up? The Seattle Mariners. They went to the 2001 ALCS, capping a string of four playoff berths in the span of seven seasons, but they haven't been back. And it looks like they have a great shot at breaking the string this season.

The starting pitching can be lights out with Taijuan Walker recently being promoted to join Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. We knew about that, though. But did you know the bullpen ERA is third best in all of baseball, trailing only San Diego and Washington? So, yes, that means the best in the AL.

Offensively, superstar Robinson Cano and the (still) underrated Kyle Seager could use some help, but Brad Miller and Logan Morrison are starting to come around while there's potential in other spots. And let's not forget, there's a trade deadline coming up and some sellers are starting to surface.

One thing I like most about the Mariners is their ability to fight adversity. They've already dealt with injuries to Iwakuma, Walker and James Paxton in the rotation. They've had myriad positional injuries, too. They've had losing streaks of eight, four and five at different points in the season and have always battled back to get hot almost immediately thereafter.

They're getting better, too, as the Mariners boasted the top run differential in baseball in June, at plus-47 (they went 18-10 in the month, where it matters most) before starting July with a 13-2 win.

How about competing against potential playoff teams? They're 5-5 against the A's, 6-3 against the Angels, 5-2 against the Royals, 2-1 against the Tigers and 3-3 against the Yankees. They have yet to face the Blue Jays this season.

This is a tough ballclub. As they get healthier and start to gain more confidence -- and even swagger -- expect it to get tougher. And we might just see playoff baseball in Seattle for the first time since there was only one Fast and Furious movie.

Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS) or via email: matt.snyder@cbs.com. Keep in mind these were filed the morning of Wed., July 2. Also, definitely remember that if we have differing opinions, it means someone is stupid and/or biased -- and probably doesn't even follow baseball.

The Mariners are in playoff position thanks to some help from the AL's stingiest bullpen. (Getty Images)
The Mariners are in playoff position thanks to some help from the AL's stingiest bullpen. (Getty Images)

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