3 Reasons Not to Overreact to the Mariners' Scorching Spring Start
So far in spring training, the Seattle Mariners have looked like world-beaters. Going into Tuesday's action, the Mariners sat in second place in the Cactus League standings at 11-5 having outscored their opponents by 25 runs while also leading all MLB clubs in home runs with 31.
Now usually any type of Seattle Mariner hot streak is big news for Mariners fans, especially with the lack of success over the past decade, but fans must understand that spring training success has not always translated into the regular season.
In fact, the only team in front of the Mariners in the Cactus League standings is the Kansas City Royals, a team who has struggled through the same kind of futility that the Mariners have over the past several seasons.
Though it is exciting, Mariners fans should look to these three reasons to avoid overreacting to the Mariners' hot start.
1. They're Already Cooling Down
Sure, the Mariners have been one of the best teams in spring training so far, but they have started to slow down after a considerably hotter beginning.
After losing a charity game against the San Diego Padres at the end of February, the Mariners rattled off a streak of 10 wins in a row before falling to the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 back on March 6. Since that loss, the Mariners have cooled off significantly, going 1-4 over their past five games.
Obviously it is unrealistic to believe that the Mariners were going to run the table through spring training, but there were points in the streak where it seemed like the M's were just going to out-hit anyone who got in their way.
It's nice that the Mariners started off so well, and it has brought optimism to the fan base, but the Mariners would most likely be hard-pressed to pull off another 10-game win streak this season.
2. There Are Still Questions in the Rotation
Most fans were not expecting Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi to fill out the Mariners rotation this season, but Noesi's performance this spring has all but eliminated him from contention completely.
Sure, Beavan has looked better than advertised, but this is still the same Blake Beavan who Mariners fans have been begging to remove from the rotation for the past few seasons.
After those two, your next tier of candidates include Jon Garland, Brandon Maurer and Danny Hultzen.
In all reality, Hultzen may have been on his way to locking up a spot in the rotation to start the season until a minor hip injury scratched him from his scheduled start back on March 5. The injury is nothing to be overly concerned about, as Hultzen threw a light bullpen session a few days later while saying he felt fine.
The injury may not stop Hultzen from making the rotation, but the injury certainly slowed down his momentum, as he had been nearly untouchable through the spring, only allowing one hit over three innings until the injury.
Garland and Maurer have both looked impressive, but Mariners fans need to remember that Jon Garland is pitching for the first time in a year-and-a-half, and Brandon Maurer has yet to pitch above the Double-A level.
The Mariners may have their options for the rotation, but until the starters get deeper into their workload, Seattle will still have questions over who will fill out the rotation to start the season.
3. Realistic Expectations
I'm sure Mariner fans have absolutely loved the production from their group of outfielders so far this spring, but to expect them to keep up this pace would be ignorant bliss.
Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez and Carlos Peguero have been tearing the cover off the ball so far this spring, as they have combined to go 27-68 (.397) with eight home runs and 13 RBI. However, this is still a group of outfielders who all have their share of issues.
Peguero has been a career bench outfielder with tremendous power, but has also been prone to racking up far too many strikeouts to keep a job in the big leagues. Bay is trying to earn a roster spot after a few disastrous seasons in New York, and Ibanez is 40 years old and most likely not an every day player anymore.
The point here is that even though the Mariners are hitting the cover off the ball now, it is unrealistic to believe that all of them will continue to do so. Sure, not all of them need to for the Mariners to succeed, but Mariners fans have been given a little bit of fool's gold this spring by the production that these three have put up.
Mariners fans should still be excited about the start their team has had this spring training, but they should remember that it is still only spring training. If anything, lowering the expectations may be beneficial for the fanbase in case Seattle stumbles out of the gate.