The Seattle Mariners’ abbreviated 2020 season came quietly to an end Sunday. Given it was opposite yet another Seattle Seahawks thriller, it’s understandable if there weren’t a lot of eyeballs on the game as the Mariners’ season concluded with a 6-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
So what kind of grade do the Mariners deserve for 2020?
Seattle had yet another losing record and yet another season without playoffs. The Mariners went 27-33 and finished in third place in the American League West, seven games behind the first-place A’s and two games behind the Houston Astros for the division’s second playoff berth. Seattle’s postseason drought, which is the longest in all American major professional sports, has now reached 19 seasons, and this was despite the AL playoff pool being expanded from five to eight teams this season.
But it’s important to remember that the playoffs were not the goal for this season. The Mariners were in year two of their grand rebuilding project, and the hope was less to see progress in the standings — though Seattle did have a better winning percentage in 2020 (.450) than it had in 2019 (.420) — and more to see progress in the young players who could be the core for a contending team in the near future.
The problem is the coronavirus-affected season makes evaluating the progress of prospects much more difficult. With no minor-league ball, there’s nothing to examine with regards to Seattle’s top prospects like Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez and Logan Gilbert. We don’t really know whether they are any closer to being impact major leaguers.
One thing we can look at is how young players at the major-league level performed this season, though the abbreviated season makes for a smaller sample size, and for Seattle there were positives and negatives. The good: Center fielder Kyle Lewis showed his 2019 late-season surge was no fluke and is a front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, while pitcher Justus Sheffield held up well in the rotation. The questionable: J.P. Crawford didn’t do much to change his outlook as a good-glove, quiet-bat shortstop, while pitcher Justin Dunn flashed both promise and control issues. The not-so-good: First baseman Evan White and second baseman Shed Long both batted in the .170s.
Seattle also continued to stockpile for the future, as general manager Jerry Dipoto received a surprising haul from the trade-deadline deal that sent catcher Austin Nola to the San Diego Padres. That deal landed highly-regarded outfield prospect Taylor Trammell, as well as a pair of young major leaguers in infielder Ty France and catcher Luis Torrens, who in their brief times with the Mariners showed they should be able to contribute.
All-in-all it’s a lot to consider for a team that wasn’t much of a factor in the standings. So what do you think? What grade do you give the Mariners for their 2020? Let us know here: