The Seattle Mariners have become a trendy preseason pick to make the playoffs entering the 2017 Major League Baseball season, and I don’t get it. Reason being is that they didn’t exactly make any type of major splash in the offseason — depending on how you feel about the Jean Segura-Taijuan Walker swap — and the AL West is likely to be a very competitive division. Add a rapidly regressing “ace” in Felix Hernandez to the equation and we have an overrated ball club on our hands.
With all that said and despite my negative outlook, Seattle is an above-average team that finished above .500 in two of the last three seasons and, with a break or two, could logically find itself in a playoff spot. The Mariners return a similar-looking roster to last year’s 86-win team but will have a different look at the start of the batting order with Jarrod Dyson and Segura expected to hit one-two, ahead of the big bats of Cano, Cruz and Seager. That sets them up nicely for putting up lots of runs again — they had the sixth-most last season — but failing to improve the starting rotation will be this team’s downfall.
With many contrasting outlooks for the Mariners in 2017, what’s a futures bettor to do? Here’s an analysis of their odds and my advice on how to proceed.
World Series +3300 and AL Pennant +1600
Pretty good value in both spots here, but don’t bother. This team is set up nicely offensively but lacks the depth at the back end of the rotation and bullpen to make a serious postseason run. Yes, trades can be made during the season to improve both areas, but the current makeup of the roster doesn’t justify a wager on either option. Using last year’s World Series teams as an example, both the Cubs and Indians had elite-level options in their starting rotations and throughout their bullpens, which are must-haves if you want to contend into October.
AL West +275
Considering they finished in second place last season and are returning a very similar team, there’s some value here. As stated off the top, a few things could definitely break their way and given how tight the division should be, adding three or four wins to last season’s total of 86 could be enough to take the division.
A mild concern would be that they had a losing record vs division rivals Houston and Texas last season, posting a .394 win percentage in 38 combined games. They’ll need to get that number up to .500 if they want to win the division. Another area that will require improvement is their performance in tight games, as they went 30-30 in one-run games, which sounds all right, but ‘all right’ doesn’t lead to the playoffs. The Rangers, for example, went 36-11 in one-run games, which clearly turned out to be a major factor in winning the division.
The reason there’s value in this spot is because Seattle is offering more than double the payout that the favorite Astros are at +120. The Mariners have posted better seasons than the Astros in two of the last three seasons, and although I really like Houston in 2017, there’s a chance things don’t come together like they should for the Astros and they don’t live up to their potential.
OVER/UNDER Win Total – 85.5
This one is close, but with the improvements at the top of the batting order, I expect the M’s to eclipse last year’s win total by a few wins, so take the OVER. The Mariners have topped 85.5 wins in two of the last three seasons, but this bet will ultimately come down to how they perform within the division. I don’t see the Rangers having another 95-win season, however, I do expect the Astros to boost their win total of 84 games from last year by eight to 10 games. As long as the Mariners beat up on the Angels and A’s like they did last season — combining to go 23-15 — they should have no problem topping this total.
Robinson Cano for MVP +2000
In the third year of his mega 10-year, $240-million deal with the Mariners, Cano posted some of the best numbers of his career, including a career-best 39 home runs. Entering the fourth year of the deal, there’s no reason to think the power surge won’t continue. Hitting third in one of baseball’s most explosive lineups, Cano will have the opportunity to put up MVP-caliber stats and if the Mariners play the way some experts predict (myself not included … wait, am I an expert?) then expect to see him as an MVP candidate come season’s end.
|American League Pennant||+1600|
|American League West||+275|
Odds as of March 27 at Bovada