The 2013 season hasn't been an easy one for the Seattle Mariners. Coming in to this year, the club was a couple power bats away from being a playoff contender.
Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse were brought in, as were Safeco Field's fences, but the pitching suffered a major drop-off and the team still can't hit for average.
There are other disappointing aspects and missed opportunities from this season, which will likely end with more losses than wins for the fourth consecutive campaign.
All stats via baseball-reference.com and ESPN.com
Injuries are uncontrollable, unfortunate and sometimes devastating to an individual career and the well-being of an entire franchise.
Frail Franklin Gutierrez will play in fewer than 50 games for a second straight year and fewer than 100 for a third year in a row. Not a month of the season passed before he went down, and he's been in and out of the trainer's office ever since.
The most upsetting aspect—he's raked when healthy. Seven homers in 95 at-bats and a .526 slugging percentage. Not to mention his all-world defensive ability. Gutierrez is 30 years old and will be a free agent after this year, so it will be interesting to see if Seattle takes a chance on him.
Morse also suffered an untimely injury. After hitting eight home runs in the first month of the season, he went down and like Gutierrez, frequented the trainer's table before missing over a month down the line. He was never the same and was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, where he's hitting .214 with no homers or RBI through six games.
Lack of On-Base Aggression
The Mariners have stolen just 43 bases this season and have been successful only 68 percent of the time. Those are severe drop-offs from last season's totals of 104 steals at a 75 percent success rate.
The increased power in the lineup may have swayed Eric Wedge to avoid playing small ball and go all-in on the long ball. Or it could be that the team's on-base percentage is .307. The only true stolen base threat they lost was Ichiro, but I suppose the improvement in power has to be coupled with a loss of some sort, which was speed in this case.
Having Morales, Raul Ibanez and Morse in the lineup together consistently sacrificed would-be base stealers such as Endy Chavez. A true leadoff hitter who's a rangy outfielder with speed and a consistent bat should be a major priority for the team this offseason.
The Mariners had a strong bullpen last season: 43 saves, 61 holds, 3.39 ERA. This year has been a complete and disastrous 180-degree turnaround, and the pen has lost many a game in late innings. The saves and holds are still there, but the bullpen's collective win-loss record is 15-26, and its ERA has ballooned to 4.33.
Stephen Pryor got hurt early on and that's been a major blow. Tom Wilhelmsen and Oliver Perez looked like All-Stars until they self-imploded and were relegated to lesser roles. Rookie Yoervis Medina has been the one bright spot, leading relievers in wins and holds with four and 17, respectively while maintaining a 2.51 ERA.
The bullpen is still young and has been changed many times, so maybe adding a veteran reliever this offseason will help.