Despite a promising start to the 2018 season, the Seattle Mariners were officially eliminated from postseason contention over the weekend. Because baseball is cruel, the Mariners were eliminated despite routing the Rangers (SEA 13, TEX 0) on Saturday. They were eliminated because the Athletics beat the Twins (OAK 3, MIN 2) later that night.
The Mariners won 55 of their first 86 games this season thanks in part to an incredible record in one-run games. One one hand, when you have a shutout closer like Edwin Diaz, you're in good shape to close out one-run wins. On the other hand, that success in one-run games suggested Seattle was walking a fine line, and not truly as good as their record suggested.
Since their 55-31 start, the Mariners are 30-39, and they've stumbled out of postseason contention. Their postseason odds graphs is a depressing bell curve:
The Mariners have not qualified for the postseason since their 116-46 season in 2001. That was Ichiro Suzuki's rookie year. Among the players to start and finish their MLB careers since the Mariners last made the postseason are Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, and Jayson Werth, among many others.
With the NFL's Buffalo Bills reaching the playoffs last year, the Mariners now own the longest postseason drought in the four major North American sports leagues. Here is each league's longest postseason drought:
- MLB: Seattle Mariners: 17 years (last qualified in 2001)
- NFL: Cleveland Browns: 15 years (last qualified in 2002)
- NBA: Sacramento Kings: 12 years (last qualified in 2005-06)
- NHL: Carolina Hurricanes: 9 years (last qualified in 2008-09)
With an average age of 29.6 years, the Mariners currently have the second-oldest roster in baseball behind the Indians (29.9 years), which doesn't exactly bode well long-term. Players like Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Seager are all signed beyond 2018 for big dollars and have declined on the field to various extents. The club's farm system is also not highly regarded at the moment.
That said, the Mariners do have talent to build around in Diaz, Mitch Haniger, Jean Segura, and James Paxton. Jerry Dipoto is one of the most aggressive general managers in baseball and, with a rebuild unlikely, he figures to be very busy supplementing his roster this offseason.