There’s little consensus on the 2020 Seattle Mariners season, beyond the fact the team doesn’t really deserve an “A.”
The Mariners’ coronavirus-abbreviated season came to an end last Sunday. Seattle finished 27-33 and in third place in the American League West, seven games behind the first-place Oakland Athletics and two games out of a playoff spot.
It meant yet another year without playoff baseball for Seattle. The Mariners’ postseason drought now stretches 19 seasons, continuing the longest active playoff absence in American major professional sports. That said, the team acknowledged before the season began that the playoffs were not the goal this year, with the organization jettisoning its veterans and playing its youngsters during year two of its rebuilding plan.
POLL: What grade do you give the Seattle Mariners for their 2020 season? Full context, including a closer examination of the season, here: https://t.co/uhXZyUzf7u
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) September 28, 2020
Add up the numbers from the poll posted on Twitter and the one posted on the blog and it’s a scattershot. More voters gave the Mariners a “B” than any other grade, but at 38% it wasn’t many more than those who scored Seattle at a “C,” and a fairly robust 22% deemed the Mariners worthy of only a “D” or an “F.” Just 9% of the voters gave Seattle an “A.”
I suppose in a crazy, hard-to-figure season, it makes sense that a team would be difficult to grade.
From a long-term perspective, this season should be graded based on how much progress Seattle made toward becoming a contending team in another year or two. This season was never about winning, it was about player development. That was also the case last year, and even though the Mariners finished 68-94 I deemed the season “A-plus” worthy because of the advances made by the organization’s prospects.
While it was possible to evaluate a losing season in a similar fashion this year, 2020 was more of a mixed bag when it came to player development when compared to 2019. There were positive steps taken by the likes of center fielder Kyle Lewis and starting pitcher Justus Sheffield, but there were also those like first baseman Evan White and second baseman Shed Long who struggled at the major-league level. And Seattle’s best prospects, like outfielders Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez, didn’t even play any games as minor-league baseball was canceled, so we aren’t able to make a judgment on whether they’re any closer to being impact major-league players.
And for some voters there was no grading on a curve. As one responder on Twitter said, “18 (sic) yrs no playoff? All failure.”
18 yrs no playoff? All failure.
— Aziz Angaar (@AzizJama555) September 28, 2020
For me, there’s one thing I find myself circling back to time and again when I think about the Mariners’ 2020. Given the way the coronavirus pandemic played havoc with the season, it would have been hard for me to give anything about it an “A,” no matter what record Seattle finished with.