Regardless of the season’s intention, it seems the majority of Seattle Mariners fans deem 2019 a failure.
The Mariners’ season came to an end last Sunday, as Seattle once again finds itself watching the postseason from afar. The Mariners finished 68-94, which put Seattle in last place in the American League West, a whopping 39 games behind division champion Houston. It also represented a 21-game dropoff from 2018, when Seattle went 89-73, yet still missed the postseason. As a result, the Mariners’ playoff drought reached 18 years, which is the longest among teams in all of America’s major professional leagues.
However, that kind of dropoff was fully expected this season. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto admitted this would be a rebuilding year after the team traded off most of its core players during the offseason. And although the results at the major-league level were not good, there were positive developments in the minors that could make Seattle’s future much brighter than it seemed this time last year.
Therefore, this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers to grade the Mariners’ 2019 season. Here’s what you came up with:
POLL: What grade do you give the Seattle Mariners for the 2019 season? Full context, including a closer look at the season, here: https://t.co/1v0x7pjdO4
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) September 30, 2019
Put it all together and more than half the voters — 51 percent — gave the Mariners a D or F. Another 32 percent said Seattle deserved a C, while 15 percent deemed the season a B, and a mere 2 percent gave it an A.
So it seems not many Mariners observers were swayed by the apparent progress made in the rebuilding effort.
On one hand, I get this. This was not a fun season for following the big-league club. The team began the season 13-2, providing a false sense of hope, then fell off the reality cliff. There were only a handful of players who fans had built any attachment to, and we were forced to watch the most significant of those — longtime ace pitcher Felix Hernandez — continue his decline into ineffectiveness. By the end of the season it was nearly impossible to identify who was on the roster.
The fans showed how they felt by not showing up. Seattle’s attendance was 1,791,720, more than 20 percent fewer than 2018 and the lowest since 2013. While Hernandez’s probable final start for the Mariners was much celebrated, T-Mobile Park was less than half full for the occasion, and the team drew just 16,819 for the season finale. So I get it when people are dismissive of the season.
But for me, I have to evaluate the season based on what the team was trying to accomplish, and the fact was the Mariners’ goal wasn’t to win this season. Seattle’s goal this season was to see what it could do to get better in the future, and the combination of trades and player development put the Mariners in what appears to be a much better position to contend in future years. Seattle created payroll flexibility, and the minor-league system went from dead last to top third in the span of one calendar year, with three players — Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, Julio Rodriguez — who are now legitimate grade-A prospects. In my opinion, given the goals of the season, the Mariners had a fantastic 2019.
But based on the poll results, it appears my opinion is in the distinct minority.