Despite winning 13 of their first 15 games this season, the Seattle Mariners were officially eliminated from postseason contention earlier this week. Because baseball is cruel, the Mariners were eliminated on an off-day. They were eliminated when the Indians beat the White Sox on Wednesday night (CLE 8, CWS 6).
The Mariners opened the 2019 season with two wins over the AL West rival Athletics in Tokyo. , which is fitting, because the Mariners have not made the postseason since Ichiro's rookie year in 2001. Their 18-year postseason drought is not only the longest in baseball, it's the longest in North American pro sports.
Here are the longest active postseason droughts in the four major sports leagues:
- MLB: Seattle Mariners: 18 years (last qualified in 2001)
- NFL: Cleveland Browns: 16 years (last qualified in 2002)
- NBA: Sacramento Kings: 13 years (last qualified in 2005-06)
- NHL: Buffalo Sabres: 8 years (last qualified in 2010-11)
Among the players to start and end their MLB careers since Seattle last reached the postseason are John Lackey, Victor Martinez, Jake Peavy, Mark Teixeira, and Chase Utley. How's that for perspective?
As noted, the Mariners did win 13 of their first 15 games this season. They are 45-81 since then, however, the third worst record in baseball. Only the Tigers (33-92) and Orioles (51-86) have lost more games since Seattle's 13-2 start. At 58-83, Seattle has the sixth worst record in baseball and stands a decent chance at having a top five pick in the 2020 amateur draft.
Of course, this is a rebuilding year for the Mariners, so missing the postseason is not a surprise. Over the winter GM Jerry Dipoto traded away James Paxton and Jean Segura, and used Edwin Diaz to shed Robinson Cano's contract. Those trades netted promising youngsters J.P. Crawford, Jarred Kelenic, Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn, but they did weaken the MLB roster.
The Mariners have found some potential long-term building blocks this season. Catchers Omar Narvaez and Tom Murphy have excelled offensively, Crawford has flashed the leather (and a serviceable bat) at short, and Daniel Vogelbach is on his way to 100 walks and 30 homers. Kyle Seager is having a strong bounce back season as well.
That said, high-priced Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi has mostly struggled this season, speedsters Dee Gordon and Mallex Smith have had little impact, and promising Rule 5 Draft reliever Brandon Brennan has battled injuries since his strong start. The Mariners have a nice young talent base, but clearly, they still have a long way to go to get back to contention.
The Marlins have baseball's second longest postseason drought at 16 seasons. They have not played October baseball since winning the 2003 World Series. Miami was recently eliminated from postseason contention.