Thursday, July 21, 2005

Why this isn't 1995

Apparently, the Mariners still aren't convinced they have no hope of reaching the post-season. So says Larry Stone. The wonderful ride of 1995 enables us to think nothing is impossible. But we're in a much different place than in 1995. John McGrath agrees, but doesn't get into details. I will.

Today, the Mariners have 10 days till the trading deadline. They are 41-52, 14 games out of 1st place and seven games out of third place. They are ten games out from the wild card, with eight teams ahead of them in the wild card standings.
In 1995, this is what the standings looked like in the AL West on July 21st:
Team        W - L  Games Behind
California 46 - 32 -
Texas 42 - 36 4
Seattle 38 - 40 8
Oakland 39 - 42 8.5

And the Wild Card Standings on 7-21-1995:

Team W - L Games Behind

Texas 42 - 36 -
Baltimore 38 - 39 3.5
Seattle 38 - 40 4
Kansas City 36 - 39 4.5
Oakland 39 - 42 4.5
New York 36 - 40 5
Though hanging on by a thread, the Mariners were clearly not wildy irrational in 1995 to shoot for a strong finish and a possible first post-season berth in franchise history. (They acquired Norm Charlton on June 14th, and traded for Andy Benes on July 31st.) Though their run to the division title was improbable--it required both a Mariner surge and an Angel collapse--the Wild Card was still within reach.
Moreover, in this strike-shortened season, the season up to this point did not carry the same significance. That is, the 93 games the Mariners have played this year are a greater body of evidence to their true ability than the 78 games played on this date in 1995. The Mariners have had 15 more games this year to show how bad they are.

In addition, the 1995 M's had individual reasons for optimism: an ace starter, who would go on to lead the league in ERA and W-L percentage (Johnson), a designated hitter who would go on to lead the league in batting average, OBP, and doubles (Martinez), and a perennial all-star scheduled to return from injury (Griffey). Power and timely hitting came from Jay Buhner and Tino Martinez, who, along with Edgar, were 3rd, 4th, and 5th in RBIs.

The M's don't have the players they did in 1995, particularly anyone that comes close to what Johnson did. But more importantly, they are nearly twice as many games from a post-season berth this year--in either the divisional or wild-card race. In the wild card race, they are looking up at six more teams than in 1995.

Making the post-season this year would be even more improbable than in 1995. The next chance the M's have of making the post season starts in the spring of 2006, and they need to act accordingly.

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