The Seattle Mariners are on the precipice of ending the longest active playoff drought among major North American men’s pro sports teams. Let’s take a look at the history the Mariners appear poised to finally end this year.
Mariners playoff drought
If the Mariners’ postseason drought were a person, it would be eligible to vote. It’s closing in on having its first drink legally. Seattle last qualified for the postseason in 2001, the year in which it tied the single-season wins record with 116. However, even that season ended with disappointment as the Mariners, who have never played in a World Series, fell to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
Since then, the Mariners have been stuck between mediocre and dreadful. Their .480 winning percentage from 2002-2021 ranked 21st in MLB. They just haven’t been flush with talent and/or they just couldn’t overcome some tough divisional foes. Yes, they had Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez, but outside of those two, the M’s best player during that long period was ... Kyle Seager? Later-career Robinson Cano?
That’s not to say the Mariners haven’t had some close calls. They won 93 games in 2002 and ‘03, but that wasn’t good enough to claim a wild card or top the Oakland Athletics, who won at least 96 games in each year. They finished three games out of a playoff spot in 2016 and just one game out last season.
But things are looking up in 2022.
Mariners playoff outlook in 2022
The offseason signing of Robbie Ray and midseason trade for Luis Castillo have given the Mariners two legitimate aces at the top of a pitching staff that ranks sixth in MLB in ERA. Seattle’s offense doesn’t always click, but it does hit a lot of homers thanks to the likes of Eugenio Suarez, Ty France and 21-year-old rookie Julio Rodriguez, who may be the most fun player in the majors.
That crew has the Mariners at 81-67, four games in front of the Orioles for the third and final AL Wild Card spot. FanGraphs’ playoff odds give the Mariners a 99.2 percent chance of reaching the playoffs.
If the season ended today, Sept. 22, Seattle would open its long-awaited trip to the postseason with a best-of-three Wild Card Series at Cleveland. When Seattle last won a playoff series 20 years ago, it was in the ALDS against Cleveland.
Although they are currently the No. 6 seed in the AL playoffs, the Mariners have the fourth-best odds to win the pennant, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. They are listed at +950, trailing only the Astros (+175), Yankees (+205) and Blue Jays (+550).