18. Seattle Mariners (15–17, plus-9, LT: 20)
Hey look, it’s another AL West team that’s been whacked by injuries. In the Mariners’ case, the setbacks have been especially cruel.
Drew Smyly arrives via trade with the Rays ... and he hasn’t thrown a pitch all season. Mitch Haniger comes over in the off-season blockbuster deal with Arizona, emerges as an instant star ... then lands on the DL with an oblique injury that might keep him out a month or more. Felix Hernandez tries to arrest the sharp decline that started to hit him in 2015 ... and a shoulder injury knocks him out for two weeks and counting. James Paxton finally harnesses his vast potential to become one of the most dominant pitchers in the league...and he hits the shelf with a forearm strain. When the M’s lost two relievers in one inning Friday night, there wasn’t much left to do but laugh.
Thank Flying Spaghetti Monster they have Taylor Motter and Ben Gamel. Another player acquired from Tampa Bay in one of the roughly 72,000 trades between the two teams over the past few years, Motter seemed like an inconsequential throw-in, coming off a rookie campaign in which he played six positions, but also hit a measly .188/.290/.300 in 34 games. This season, Motter has supplemented that versatility with both pop, and flow. Playing first, second, short, third, and left, Motter’s clubbed 14 extra-base hits, batting .231/.302/.538. He’s overcome a shaky batting eye by making tons of hard contact, fueled by the highest pull rate for any hitter in all of baseball.
Gamel was a 10th-round pick by the Yankees in 2010 who came to Seattle via trade last August. More of an on-base hound than a power guy, Gamel's translated those skills to the majors in this, his rookie season, batting a strong .310/.408/.476. Those numbers will come down as his sky-high batting average on balls in play regulates. But his batting eye looks legit, with Gamel able to work counts in his favor, use the whole field when he gets a pitch to drive, and also walk 14% of the time.
Most importantly, no matter where their numbers go from here, the M’s can take comfort in knowing they have two future Hair Hall of Famers putting on the uniform every day.