The Seattle Mariners entered the 2023 campaign with high hopes and nearly won the AL West for the first time in over 20 years. However, a late-season collapse caused Seattle to miss out on the postseason after a birth in 2022. Here’s our recap of the 2023 Mariners.
The brightest spot of the 2023 Mariners season was the pitching, as Seattle’s staff ranked in the top ten in a number of categories.
Staff ace Luis Castillo struck out 219 over 197 innings and owned a 3.34 ERA, a figure that’s good on its own but one that rose considerably over the final week. Castillo led a very young, yet talented rotation that included Logan Gilbert, control artist George Kirby, Bryce Miller, and Bryan Woo.
All five yielded strong results. And, the Mariners’ bullpen turned out to be just as good.
Andres Munoz emerged as the team’s closer after the trade of Paul Sewald, while Matt Brash continued his evolution as an elite setup man. Justin Topa, Isaiah Campbell, Tayler Saucedo, and Gabe Speier were among other strong options for the pen.
Offensively, Cal Raleigh hit 30 home runs and helped lead that pitching staff. Shortstop J.P. Crawford hit 19 home runs in what was a breakout campaign for the 28-year-old. Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez hit 26 home runs and Jarred Kelenic found his groove after two poor seasons.
The star of the show, though, was Julio Rodriguez. Rodriguez hit .275/.333/.485 with 32 home runs, 37 stolen bases, and 72 extra-base hits. Rodriguez was the catalyst for the M’s late-season surge in August when the 22-year-old hit .429 with seven home runs and a 1.198 OPS.
The Mariners’ pitching staff was excellent in 2023, but the loss of Robbie Ray stung. Seattle did have the arms to take care of that loss for much of the season, but there were some other issues along that road. Chris Flexen could not replicate his past success in 2023. Left-hander Marco Gonzales only made 10 starts, and rookie Emerson Hancock made just three before an IL stint.
The callup of Hancock was somewhat necessitated by Seattle’s plans to keep the innings down for their young starters. That idea didn’t work as originally planned, but Seattle’s young hurlers came out of 2023 unscathed.
Offensively, the Mariners traded for Kolten Wong to address a hole at second base last winter. That trade didn’t work out at all, as Wong hit .165/.241/.227 in 67 games before the Mariners ended that marriage.
Outfielder AJ Pollock, another free agency pickup, hit just .173/.225/.323 over 49 games.
Then, there’s 3B Eugenio Suarez. Suarez played all 162 games but posted the second-lowest SLG (.391) of his career. And, his 22 home runs were his lowest in a full season since 2016.
What to Look For in 2024
After an 11-17 September — a month that started with Seattle in first place of the AL West and ended with a playoff elimination — the Mariners failed to make it back to the MLB Playoffs and had to watch rival Texas win it all.
Since the Rangers will return a very strong team in 2024 — and the same could be said for the Astros — Seattle will need to keep up with the rivals.
Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto stated earlier this month that Seattle will look to add contact to the lineup. The M’s have holes in the outfield and at second base thanks to the pending departure of Teoscar Hernandez, but Dominic Canzone and Josh Rojas could be factors in that search.
Additionally, another point to ponder is whether Seattle would be willing to deal from the team’s crop of pitchers for lineup help. Although, good pitching is hard to find.