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Mariners are Full of Intrigue in 2016

Robinson Cano Seattle Mariners MLB

There may not be a Major League Baseball franchise and/or fanbase more starved for October baseball more than the Seattle Mariners. Considering the club has never played in a World Series game, futility is the narrative in the Emerald City and has been since the Mariners entered the bigs in 1977.

Out of nowhere, the Mariners won 87 games in 2014 and barely missed out on the postseason. The following year was not as memorable (they won just 76 games) but 2016 could potentially look more like 2014 than last year. I’m not necessarily suggesting you back them to win the World Series (though there is nice value at +4000 if you are so inclined) but this is a team that should be competitive in the American League West and could make a decent run to eclipse that posted win total.

The M’s haven’t played a playoff game since 2001 and new general manager Jerry Dipoto has been hired to steer the ship back in that direction. Sound defense, strong pitching, getting on base; this is the modus operandi of Dipoto and these Mariners, on paper at least, are built to do just that.

This season, they are +400 at online shop Bovada to win the American League West crown; something they have not done since that magical 2001 season.

Yes, the Houston Astros are the “sexy” pick on multiple MLB futures boards and the Texas Rangers look like a good squad as well. The Los Angeles Angels are a bit of a wildcard and the Oakland A’s will more than likely be the ones residing in the basement. So that leaves these Mariners.

We know about the pitching staff. Felix Hernandez is one of the best around and Hisashi Iwakuma is a strong No. 2 in the rotation. We have been waiting for Taijuan Walker to have that “breakout” season and it could be in the cards this year. He was solid-yet-unspectacular last year but that 4.56 ERA is somewhat worrying.

The bullpen was a weakness last season after finishing 26th in the bigs according to WAR. It has undergone a facelift in the offseason but projections aren’t that much better. Steve Cishek was brought in to close games and arms like Vidal Nuno, Mike Montgomery and Joaquin Benoit are peppered throughout. Therefore, the starting rotation is going to have to do yeoman’s work if those AL West or AL Pennant futures are going to cash.

The lineup isn’t the scariest out there but does feature some star names. Kyle Seager is one of the better all around third basemen the sport has to offer and Nelson Cruz can still mash as good as anyone. Dipoto added average guys around the lineup like Adam Lind, Nori Aoki and Chris Iannetta but the bigger question mark is going to be Robinson Cano. He dropped over 3.0 wins from 2014 to 2015 and his K rate was the highest its ever been (15.9 percent). He did produce more home runs (21) than he did in 2014 but the 33-year-old is supposed to be the centerpiece of the order and simply was not that in 2015.

No, the Mariners aren’t a World Series contender quite yet, but they do feature an interesting mix of stars and role players that could sneak into the postseason via a wild card giving fans the excitement that highlighted their 2014 season. From a betting perspective, the 82.5 wins is an intriguing mark. They’ve eclipsed it just once since the 2010 season but this is a team headed in a positive direction and good things look to be on the horizon in the Pacific Northwest.

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2016 Seattle Mariners Odds
World Series+4000
American League Pennant+2000
American League West+400
Win Totals82.5

Odds as of April 1 at Bovada