The Mariners were one game away from making the postseason last year. Robinson Cano brought his winning pedigree over from New York. The signing turned out to be one of the best last offseason, even if he did bring a hefty price tag.
The AL West is loaded once again (the Houston Astros actually look like a professional baseball team this season). The Rangers and A’s might not be as strong, but the Angels are all expected to run away with the AL West. Can Seattle take the crown from Los Angeles?
Seattle has turned into quite a sports town. The Seahawks own the city and the Sounders have helped transform the entire U.S. into caring about soccer more than just every four years. Can the Mariners piggyback on the overwhelming rabid Seattle sports fanbase and turn Safeco Field into a strong homefield advantage?
Here is the 2015 MLB season preview for the Seattle Mariners.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 87-75
Key Additions: DH Nelson Cruz, OF Seth Smith, SP J.A. Happ, 2B Rickie Weeks, OF Justin Ruggiano, SP Joe Saunders, SP Justin Germano & C John Baker
Key Losses: 1B Justin Smoak, OF Corey Hart, OF Michael Saunders, OF Chris Denorfia, RP Joe Beimel, SP Chris Young & RP Brandon Maurer
Interleague Schedule: NL West
Projected Starters: Mike Zunino, Logan Morrison, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Brad Miller, Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson, Seth Smith & Nelson Cruz
Projected Starting Rotation: Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker & J.A. Happ
Closer: Fernando Rodney
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Dustin Ackley – Ackley could be a ‘post-hype’ sleeper this season. He has been earmarked as a breakout candidate in each of the last two seasons. He was the #2 overall draft pick in 2009 and was touted as the most MLB-ready bat in the entire draft. The draft was rather weak on position players and saw pitchers like Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler and Shelby Miller taken in the first round. Ackley teased us with a strong Spring Training last season and hopefully he waits until April to get hot.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: 3B D.J. Peterson – Peterson hit 31 homers between Hi-A and Double-A last season. The 23-year-old will most likely start the season in Triple-A with an eye on being called up in September. Seattle has Kyle Seager at third, so he is blocked at his natural position. If his bat keeps developing, Seattle could find a spot in left field for him if Ackley struggles.
Team Analysis: Seattle took a step in the right direction last season. After signing Robinson Cano and promoting some of their elite pitching prospects to the Majors, they missed the last Wild Card spot by a single game. I expect the Mariners to keep improving in 2015.
Seattle made some underrated moves this offseason to add power to their lineup. Nelson Cruz had a great season in Baltimore and will be their DH. Seth Smith is an under-the-radar player and could have a really nice season if he plays everyday.
Seattle hopes Taijuan Walker and James Paxton develops into a front-of-the-rotation arms. They have both shown promise in limited innings. One of them could eventually could soon replace Hisashi Iwakuma, who is might be a free agent after the season.
The AL West is one of the most difficult divisions in baseball. Seattle will be battle-tested if they make it to the postseason. They will fight for one of the Wild Card spots, but they could fall short once again. I expect the Angels to win the AL West with the Red Sox and Orioles winning the AL Wild Card spots in 2015.
2015 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 87 (Prediction: UNDER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 85-77 (2nd in AL West)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.