Don’t let the Mariners end goal overshadow the story some players are making

That’s the weight hanging over this Mariners season and the overall goal: to make the playoffs. As the days tick by and the season quickly rushes to a close, the fixation on the word playoffs rivals only that of Jim Mora Sr.’s infamous press conference.

Fann: Sailors take notes on Braves winning strategy in World Series

It’s incredibly close, closer than it’s ever been in Seattle’s 21-year playoff drought, but the focus on the end goal has created a tunnel vision effect: check other scores, check the wildcard ranking, check the scores again… double check the ranking and agonize again the next day.

That’s completely understandable, but don’t just focus on that end result while forgetting to appreciate the caliber of baseball that the Mariners have played, the level of historically stretch-good baseball that we’ve seen from this team. . It came in the form of stellar pushes from individual players on offense, every member of the starting rotation on any given night, and the bullpen that toppled and exceeded all expectations.

Most of the stats released to show the Mariners’ impressive ratings this season date back to June 21, when the Mariners started the day 10 games under .500. Since then, they have compiled the best record in the American League, a 48-21 mark that brought them from the depths of 29-39. Of course, these are some numbers that might not mean as much without context – thankfully Larry Stone of the Seattle Times just do that — and that stretch, it turns out, puts the Mariners in rare company.

The story the Mariners are heading towards goes beyond just total wins. This season has witnessed individual performances that will rewrite records and join hallowed company in the process.

Cal Raleigh

The sophomore wide receiver’s growth has been amazing, especially after some early-season struggles and a demotion to Triple-A. Since returning to the team on May 7, all Raleigh has done is lead all catchers in baseball with 23 homers, a mark that puts him well within reach of surpassing Mike Zunino’s total of 25 in 2017, the Mariners in a single season. record for a receiver.

Raleigh is also a defensive mainstay, a framing asset behind the plate and a harbinger of takedowns for those running on him. Since we’re writers and speakers here, we let others do the math, and Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith (inspired by Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports) found that what Raleigh does both offensively at home plate and from behind on defense has only been done once by a Mariners catcher.

A season to remember for a guy who found himself in a three-receiver rotation and had a 2-for-24 start at the plate early in the season.

Julio Rodriguez

This is an article, not a thesis, so unfortunately the section on Julio Rodríguez cannot fully cover the length of his many accomplishments. Julio’s 4.7 bWAR (Baseball Reference WAR) is the third highest ever for a Mariners rookie. The other two: Ken Griffey Jr. and Alvin Davis, the latter of whom won Rookie of the Year, and the former… well, you know what he did.

Rodríguez is first or second among rookies in nearly every offensive statistical category this season, and his seamless blend of power and speed redefines what it means to own those tools at this level.

Julio hit 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in just 81 games, faster than anyone already in MLB history. The accolades in that sense are seemingly endless: first player to hit 15 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 50 RBIs in just 90 games; fastest in AL history to hit 20 homers and 20 stolen bases (107 games). It’s a steady stream of unprecedented success, or at least results that don’t happen often. And Julio can keep adding to the list: he’s just two home runs and a stolen base away from becoming just the third rookie to hit the 25/25 mark, something that’s only been done before by Chris Young (2007) and Mike Trout (2012).

The Mariners pitch

Amid Raleigh and Rodríguez’s historic seasons, the Mariners’ pitching staff delivered their own special moments from the rotation to the bullpen. Over the years, the bullpen may not receive the same success it deserves, and it’s unlikely that anything will be preserved in the pantheon of baseball history, but it is. the most dominant force in baseball since the oft-referred to June 21. league leader in fWAR (Fangraphs WAR), ERA, and opponent’s batting average.

Hopefully amid this final push to the playoffs, it’s also time to appreciate the efforts we’ve seen from the Mariners’ rotation. From Luis Castillo’s eight shutout innings on his home debut and seven straight outs to start the game on Wednesday, to the surreal scene of watching rookie George Kirby magnetized into the strike zone – 24 straight strikes to start a game – the Mariners are accomplishing feats that we have literally never experienced before.

I know we won’t stop looking at our dashboard and relentlessly refreshing the leaderboard (I just did that between writing these two paragraphs), but hopefully that won’t overshadow how great this season has been special for the Mariners. Admire the journey, the performances we witness, and the moments that may not be recreated for a long time. It will also make that end goal even more enjoyable.

Mariners push into playoffs, love affair with Seattle presented by MLB Network