Three Bold Predictions for the 2016 Seattle Mariners

After 14 Years Are The Playoffs Realistic For M’s?

With the arrival of February comes the start of spring training in the MLB.  We also now have a pretty good idea of what the Mariners bullpen, rotation, and starting lineups will look like in 2016.  The only remaining question—just how successful will this new team with all these new faces be?

With that I give you my three bold predictions for your 2016 Seattle Mariners.

King Felix

20 wins in 2016. Write it down.

Felix Hernandez– 20 Game Winner

The M’s ace, Felix Hernandez, came oh so close to coming up with 20 game win seasons the past couple of years.  I have to think with the improved defense in the outfield and a lineup more conducive to scoring runs in spacious Safeco Field that Felix is able to scale that mountain in 2016.

Hernandez will win 20 or better this year, and he’ll win at least a dozen of them at home!

Nelson Cruz—Three Consecutive 40+ HR Seasons

The Mariners biggest bat, Nelson Cruz, hit 40 homers for Baltimore just two seasons ago.  Cruz hit 44 for the Mariners in 2015, his first season with the Mariners.  This year, things will be slightly different for Cruz as he likely will spend far less time in right field and far more time as the M’s DH.

Does being the DH somehow stop the HR parade for Cruz?  Clearly, Mariners GM, Jerry Dipoto, does not think so despite some interesting numbers.  Last season Cruz hit just .263 acting as the M’s DH whereas when he was the right fielder, he hit .337.

Cruz has a chance at 3 consecutive, 40 homer seasons.

Cruz has a chance at 3 consecutive, 40 homer seasons.

We see the same kind of disparity in Cruz’s numbers in terms of his OB% as well.  Those numbers are .420 and .326 with the higher total being Cruz’s numbers as the M’s right fielder.  OPS is the same story where we see a 1.125 vs .770 disparity.

I find it interesting that a metrics guy like Dipoto would ignore such obvious big swings in production, at least until I did the same kind of comparison of numbers during the 2014 season Cruz spent with the Orioles.  Cruz played left and right for the Orioles during that year and all the numbers between left, right and DH are much more even although his DH numbers are still slightly lower in all categories.

So ignoring the DH downward trend that Cruz seems to display, I still say we’ll see a third, consecutive 40+ homer season out of Cruz in 2016.  The last guy to do that was Adam Dunn, eight years ago.

Will the M's be celebrating an October schedule? (Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images)

Will the M’s be celebrating an October schedule? (Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images)

The Mariners Win Total

After winning 87 games in 2014 virtually everyone, including me, figured the Mariners were poised for a big 2015 campaign.  As we know, things fizzled on the Mariners and they finished with just 76 wins, a total that cost both Lloyd McClendon and Big Jack their jobs.

Now we have Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto running things along with a host of new players throughout the lineup, rotation and bullpen.  Is it reasonable to think the M’s can bounce back this fast with a winning season with so much turnover?

I say yes.  The Mariners of 2016 will win exactly the same number of games they did in 2014— 87 games.

Will that be good enough to put them in the playoffs? 

I’m afraid that’s a much tougher question.  I think the Angels, despite having a perennial MVP candidate in Mike Trout will continue to flounder without a supporting cast to back Trout up.  The A’s don’t look good on paper and the same can be said of the Rangers with the exception of Rougned Odor whom I really like.

In the end, the AL west in 2016 will boil down to a battle between the Astros and the Mariners.

In 2015 the M’s won just seven games vs. 12 defeats in their battles with Houston.  Just turning those numbers around makes the Mariners a .500 team again.  Regardless, the M’s will have to play better against the Astros if they hope to be playing in October.

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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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