The Seattle Mariners ended their eight-game winning streak with a loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday afternoon, but the team continues to be hot in July. The team is tied for second in all of baseball for the most home runs by any team, and that’s without much contribution from slugger Michael Morse (he has been injured since mid-June). The addition of Morse to the Seattle lineup should be an adrenaline shot in the arm of an already productive offense.
The team has also benefited from strong performances by rookie infielders Brad Miller and Nick Franklin. Miller is hitting .233 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 23 games, and Franklin is hitting .265 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs in just 49 career games so far. Also, rookie catcher Mike Zunino is hitting .242 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 29 games.
Combine that with the production the team is getting from slightly older players like Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager and veterans like Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales, and the vast majority of the Seattle lineup are hitters deserving of respect and caution from opposing pitchers.
Defensively, the Mariners are fifth in the league in double plays turned and ninth in fielding percentage. Strong outings from pitchers Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders have helped the Mariners to fifth in the league in innings pitched, seventh in team strikeouts and eighth in team ERA.
All of these statistics are massive improvements over the last few seasons. The Mariners are only four games under .500 and sit at a respectable third place in the AL West behind the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers. Barring a late season meltdown from either of those teams, it doesn’t seem likely that the Mariners will make the postseason, though. Still, the consistency of the team both offensively and defensively over the last month should give fans reason to be hopeful for next season. The front office seems to have been successful both in making solid additions to the team in the offseason and cultivating their young prospects into big-league talent.
If they continue to develop along this path, making the right choices and betting on the right players, the momentum of this season should continue and set the Mariners up for an exciting 2014. Fingers crossed.