I am a huge proponent of setting realistic expectations for your favorite sports teams. It keeps you invested in the season and keeps you from feeling disappointed. If you don’t set realistic expectations, then you set yourself up for heartbreak come the end of the season. If you set realistic expectations then you can feel satisfied by your team’s season even if they don’t win the championship.
Take the Cincinnati Bengals fans as an example. The realistic expectation for them going into the 2021 season was probably to have a winning season. An unrealistic expectation would have been for them to win the Super Bowl. They ended up losing in the Super Bowl. The fans that set the realistic expectations were likely disappointed with the outcome of the game but happy with the overall season the team produced. The fans that set the unrealistic expectations were just disappointed with the season.
I always set realistic expectations for my favorite teams. I am going to let you in on five of my realistic expectations for the Mariners this season so that even if they don’t win the World Series, we can be happy with their season.
Be A Playoff Contender (like actually)
The standings from the 2021 MLB season will tell you that the Seattle Mariners were in the playoff picture in September. While that was technically true, anybody who watched them play last year knew this team was not a dangerous postseason team. Even if the Mariners did sneak into the playoffs, they were bound for an exit in the wild card game. The team played much better than they had any right to be last season, but this year that needs to change. In 2022 the Mariners should be an actual playoff contender. They need to be in the conversation of not just making the playoffs but making a run once they get in. Every year there is talk of the Mariners breaking their two-decade-long postseason drought. Sometimes that conversation is done in May and other times (like last season) that conversation lasts until the last day of the season. This year the goal shouldn’t be to just end the streak by making the playoffs and not winning any games. The goal this year should be a team that has a chance to actually win a playoff series, and hopefully, they will get a chance to do that.
Win 90 Games Again
A team can have a great season and not make the playoffs if their division and league are too stacked. So sometimes judging a team by a postseason berth is not a completely accurate barometer of success. A guaranteed way to gauge a team’s success is wins. Last year the Mariners pulled off a miracle by getting to 90 wins and the goal should be to repeat that. This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with my previous expectation, it’s just that this one is a lot easier to deem a success or not at the end of the season. If the Mariners win 90 games this season then that means they are a good baseball team. Shouldn’t our expectation for them this year be for them to be a good baseball team?
Have Four Players Hitting Over .280
The main reason why the success of the 2021 Mariners was so surprising was because of how disastrous their hitting was. They had a team batting average of .226 and had just one player hit over .280. That, obviously, can not happen again. The combination of offseason moves and added experience for the young guys should make it possible for at least four hitters to bat above that .280 mark in 2022. The lone player to clear that mark last season was Ty France so we can pencil him in as one of those four players this year. The Mariners also added a player that hit .305 last year in Jesse Winker, so he should be the second guy. The other two spots can be taken up by any combination of Adam Frazier, J.P. Crawford, Mitch Haniger, Julio Rodriguez, or Jarred Kelenic. This seems like a very possible accomplishment for the Mariners this year.
Be In The Top Half In Team ERA
The pitching, on the other hand, was actually a strength for Seattle last year, although it was mainly due to their bullpen. If we assume that the bullpen will be solid once again, that puts the pressure on the starters to get the team ERA into the top half of the league. The Mariners finished just shy of getting there last year when they finished 16th with a 4.30 team ERA. The addition of the reigning AL Cy Young award winner could be enough to get them there by itself. Robbie Ray is now the ace of the staff, giving Seattle what should be a reliable stud at the top of the rotation. Marco Gonzalez and Chris Flexen both had ERAs under four last season so they can probably be relied on to contribute solid innings again. The wild card will be the young arms. Logan Gilbert showed a lot of promise last year and is set up to take a huge leap forward in his sophomore season. Rookie Matt Brash won the fifth spot in the rotation during Spring Training and will be pitching his first innings in the majors. That means we don’t know exactly what to expect from him but if he continues pitching like he did in spring then he should do nothing but help lower that team ERA.
Get Multiple Players Into The All-Star Game
This expectation is a little arbitrary because the All-Star Game is not really a true assessment of talent. But regardless of that, I want the Mariners to graduate from the tier of teams that get a representative in the ASG solely because they are required to be represented. Last year the Mariners sent Yusei Kikuchi to the event, but he did not deserve to be there based on merit. This year, I want the Mariners to not only send a player there that actually deserves it but to send multiple players there. Ray should be a lock if he pitches anywhere near the way he did last year and then someone like Haniger, Winker, or France could very well be an all-star. Even if it ends up being someone unexpected like a reliever or one of the young outfielders, I will take it. I know many people don’t really care about the All-Star Game (I don’t really care about it too much) but I just want to make sure whoever the Mariners send to the game this year is not alone, literally.