Seattle Mariners 2019 Betting Odds, Preview: A Necessary Rebuild for a Lucky Ballclub

Seattle Mariners 2019 Betting Odds, Preview: A Necessary Rebuild for a Lucky Ballclub article feature image
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Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports.

  • The Mariners won 89 games last year, but were the luckiest team in baseball.
  • Rather than try to get better and catch the Astros, the Seattle front office decided to part ways with several veteran stars and get ahead on a rebuild.
  • They did sign sought-after Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, though, who is one of a few players they acquired this offseason that can help them win a few years down the road.

Bye-bye Robinson Cano! Bye-bye James Paxton! And Edwin Diaz … and Jean Segura … and probably the newly acquired Edwin Encarnacion at some point, too.

The Seattle Mariners, despite winning 89 games last year, traded away nearly every valuable veteran asset they had in the offseason and let Nelson Cruz walk in free agency. Like I said, they may not be done dealing pieces, either.

They have brought in some interesting players, too — most notably Japanese southpaw Yusei Kikuchi. They’lll have a new identity going forward, and Kikuchi, along with some youngsters they’ve brought in via trade, could be a big part of it. But the front office has already decided how this team will perform in 2019 — badly.

2018 Results

  • Record: 89-73 (+14.1 units),78-84 ATS (-15.4 units)
  • Over/Under Record: 78-82-2
  • Preseason World Series Odds: 50-1
  • Win Total: 81.5
  • Most Profitable Starter: Mike Leake (20-11 +11.25)

The Mariners actually scored less runs than their opponents did last year. Their Pythagorean record was 77-85, a far cry from 89-73. In fact, that lucky 12-game differential was twice as much as the next closest team (Colorado). They went 36-21 in one-run games and a crazy 14-1 in extra frames, which helps explain their poor runline record.

Perhaps the Mariners’ front office realized that they didn’t need to just get a handful of wins better to catch the Astros this season. More like 20. Rebuild time!

2019 Odds

  • World Series Odds: +100000
  • Division Odds: +8000
  • Win Total O/U: 70.5
  • Playoff Odds: Make +2000, Miss -10000

With a 2019 win total that’s 18.5 games less than its 89 wins last year, Seattle is expected to have the biggest drop-off of any team in baseball. Its win total and division odds are even worse than the Rangers’, who won 67 games last year and haven’t really done much to improve this offseason.

None of the Mariners’ futures are advisable in my eyes. The only thing worth looking at is their win total, but there are so many factors in play that it’s tough to gauge. For what it’s worth, Fangraphs is predicting them to get 73 wins as of Feb. 21.

Roster Notes

  • Key Additions: Edwin Encarnacion, Yusei Kikuchi, J.P. Crawford, Justus Sheffield, Jay Bruce, Tim Beckham, Cory Gearrin, Domingo Santana, Omar Narvaez, Anthony Swarzak, Hunter Strickland, Zac Rosscup, Jose Lobaton (minors), Tommy Milone (minors), Dustin Ackley (minors)
  • Key Subtractions: Nelson Cruz, James Paxton, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Edwin Diaz, Gordon Beckham, Cameron Maybin, Ben Gamel, Alex Colome, Mike Zunino, Juan Nicasio, Adam Warren, David Phelps, Zach Duke, Denard Span, Andrew Romine, Guillermo Heredia, Casey Lawrence, Erasmo Ramirez
  • Potential Lineup
    1. Dee Gordon – 2B
    2. Mitch Haniger – RF
    3. Jay Bruce – DH
    4. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B
    5. Ryon Healy – 3B
    6. Domingo Santana – LF
    7. Omar Narvaez – C
    8. Tim Beckham – SS
    9. Mallex Smith – CF
  • Projected Rotation
    1. Marco Gonzales
    2. Yusei Kikuchi
    3. Felix Hernandez
    4. Mike Leake
    5. Wade LeBlanc
  • Prospect Watch: Justus Sheffield (No. 43, LHP), Justin Dunn (No. 91, RHP), Erik Swanson (Unranked, RHP), Braden Bishop (Unranked, OF), Shed Long (Unranked, 2B)
  • Key Injuries: Kyle Seager (Hand, mid 2019), Mallex Smith (Elbow, early April), Sam Tuivailala (Achilles, mid 2019), Anthony Swarzak (Shoulder, TBD), Gerson Bautista (Pec, early April), Shawn Armstrong (Oblique, TBD)
  • MVP Candidates: Mitch Haniger (+8000), Edwin Encarnacion (+10000), Kyle Seager (+10000)
  • Cy Young Candidates: Marco Gonzales (+5000), Mike Leake (+8000), Yusei Kikuchi (+10000), Justus Sheffield (+20000), Felix Hernandez (+30000)

Analysis

Player to Watch: J.P. Crawford

Of the players acquired by Seattle this winter, Crawford may have the highest ceiling of them all. Then again, he could be terrible. Or anything in between …

Crawford, who just turned 24, was the No. 2 overall prospect in the MLB back in 2016. However, the toolsy shortstop has struggled in two cups of coffee in both 2017 and 2018.

The former Phillie has a sub-.700 OPS in over 200 major league at-bats, but actually has an fWAR of 0.8 in about a half-season’s worth of games.

There are a lot of similarities to Byron Buxton in my eyes. His fielding skills and speed are not as elite, but they’re there. So are the strikeouts and inability to hit at a big league level. Great tools don’t necessarily translate to a great baseball player, though both Buxton and Crawford have time to make improvements.

This is especially true for Crawford, whose Mariners don’t care if they win or lose this year. The Seattle brass really liked Crawford and will give him a chance to play. Maybe it takes him a couple of years to start hitting, but it doesn’t matter. The Mariners won’t be contenders for at least a couple years, anyway.

Pitcher to Watch: Yusei Kikuchi

Yusei Kikuchi joins the ranks of Japanese players to make the trip across the Pacific to sign with the Mariners, including Hisashi Iwakuma, Kaz Sasaki and, of course, Ichiro Suzuki.

Kikuchi does not come to the states with as many accolades as some other players have had. He’s never won a Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) MVP like Shohei Ohtani or Masahiro Tanaka have, or the Cy Young equivalency, which many familiar names have won — Tanaka, Kenta Maeda, Iwakuma, Yu Darvish, Koji Uehara, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideo Nomo.

ZiPS is projecting him to be the Mariners’ best starter, but nothing special — ERA around 4.00, a bit less than a strikeout per inning and 3.54 BB/9.

Since we’ve never seen him pitch in the majors, there’s no telling how good or bad he’ll be, though. In general, pitchers have been less successful in the majors than they were in the NPB. I’m sure Seattle is hoping Kikuchi is more than just an average pitcher, but it’s quite possible that’s what he is.

Summary

I’m sure a lot of Mariners fans are ticked off with what happened this offseason. It would be hard not to be. But being an average team in a non-major market isn’t advisable.

Look at the Astros. They were terrible for a stretch, but have built a wagon off of mostly young homegrown talent. Seattle’s roster, which luckily won 89 games last year, was predominantly old and had only a few players that the Mariners brought up and developed themselves. I’m not saying you can’t win with a free agent-led team, but this particular team wasn’t winning this year or next. Might as well get some young chips in exchange for guys like Cano, Paxton and Segura. As for Diaz, there’s no point in having a great closer if your team is no good.

There’s no chance this team makes the playoffs, and I personally have a difficult time betting on a win total like this one. How am I supposed to factor in all of the roster changes, last season’s luck, etc. to make a play on a win total that is already 18.5 games worse than their record last year?

You Mariners fans out there better just hope Crawford, Kikuchi and Justus Sheffield pan out. Otherwise, a couple-year rebuild could drag out to a miserable five-year stretch.

All odds via Westgate SuperBook as of Feb. 22

Transactions accurate as of Mar. 4. Free agents deemed subtractions until they re-sign

Advanced data via Fangraphs.com, prospect ratings via MLB.com, prospects in prospect watch expected to be MLB-ready in 2019