The Mariners won yesterday in San Francisco, 6-4. A team, a franchise, and a fanbase more desperate for a fast start than perhaps any in the game has gotten one, with the team’s record now 3-1.
One of the joys of the early season is the malleability of the early numbers. Every single statistic cited in April comes with a parenthetical, silent “SMALL SAMPLE SIZE” and at this point we all know it. So, we can have some fun with it.
Did you think the Mariners would surprise this year, and that websites like this very one were overly pessimistic and dour? Well there’s Robinson Cano’s OBP of .563, Mitch Haniger slugging 1.000 while striking out half as often as he walks. Here’s Dee Gordon wolloping huge home runs, and seemingly everywhere, both on and off the field; already “The Sparkplug This Team Needed ™”.
For a much maligned rotation well, guess what haters? They just made it through a full turn through, and the only pitcher that didn’t make it through at least five innings (James Paxton) still figures to be their best pitcher. As for the bullpen, the first week has delivered a definitive verdict: All have sinned and fallen short of making contact against Edwin Diaz. The enigmatic closer with the amazing stuff has been the most dominant player on the team, with a hilarious 8/0 K/BB in only 3 IP. The Viper, hail, and etc.
For the, ahem, more seasoned, aged, “Same Ol Mariners” inclined fan, well you can happily take apart this team’s fast start as you wait for rain. The offense has a BABIP of .330, the 5th highest in MLB. The pitching has a BABIP of .214, the second lowest. That eyebrow raising first turn through the rotation? Well they’re doing it with the fourth lowest K% in baseball (14.6).
You can keep going too, if you hate happiness and sunshine, as I notedly do. Ryon Healy has been worth -0.2 fWAR. Nelson Cruz and Mike Zunino are on the disabled list already, and the depth behind them has done precious little to contribute to the team’s success. Juan Nicasio has looked like Blake Beavan, and etc.
None of that, any of it, the good or bad, means a thing, and that’s great! For a few magical weeks at the beginning of every baseball season, all fans get to be right. In April, the course of the season is a broad sandbox for us to play in, to create narratives, and live with our heart. It’s a gift, and we should enjoy it. As the season plays out, and sample sizes grow, that sandbox will become more and more narrow, until it’s just a tunnel, and we can only go forward or back, and wait there’s that giant boulder behind us and spikes in front and well, ah. Yes. Baseball.
For now, though, we get that sandbox. More importantly, while we’re frolicking around in it, the Mariners are 3-1. That’s all that really matters.