It is June 14th. I'm mostly writing that as a reminder to myself that not only are there ninety-nine games left on the regular-season schedule, but also because I usually forget the day of the week and the date. If the season ended today, the Seattle Mariners, having won the Second Wildcard position, would be awaiting a tie-breaker result between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Whichever team lost that game would host the M's likely the following day. The Seattle Mariners would be in the playoffs. Yet, there are ninety-nine games left. To give us an idea, or maybe more just an exercise of FUNBALL, let's look back at this day, last year, and see where things went from (t)here.
On June 14, 2015, the Kansas City Royals finished the day with the best record in the AL at 34-25. The Houston Astros had more wins, at 36-28, but by winning percentage, were the 2nd best team in the AL and AL West leaders. Leading the AL East at the time was a 34-28 New York Yankee team. At this moment, the Wildcard game would have been a contest between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays.
You'll notice a few things about this set of playoff teams and the ones that actually danced in October last season. First and foremost, the Astros would lose the division to the Texas Rangers, who finished the season 55-44 to take the crown. As well, the Toronto Blue Jays would take the East by playing .646 ball the rest of the way. The Astros and the Yankees would end up playing in the Wildcard game. In this way, the June 14, 2015 playoffs lost both the Wildcard teams by the end of the season. Tampa went eight games under .500 the rest of the way and the Twins did just as well as the Mariners going forward.
Both the Twins and the Rays were way over-performing their pythag at this moment in 2015. As we now know, that came crashing down on them as the under-performing Blue Jays and the mostly on-point Rangers surged towards their "true" talent. While pythag is not perfect in predictability (side note: nothing is perfect, only my own, personal intuition), it actually, barring the A's, at the point of June 14th, had all five playoff teams picked out.
What's affirming for a Mariners fan in 2016, is that looking back at 2015, the M's boast a better record than both Texas and Toronto at this point of the season. As well, the M's are playing three games under their pythag, which has them at 37 wins. Pythag wins shows the Rangers currently four games above their predictive record, something that both the Yankees and Astros succumbed to last season. There's plenty of reason to believe the division could flip on its head over the next ninety-nine games.
In fact, with a win tonight, the M's will be seven games better on this date than their record last year. They'll be just a half game under last year's Astros. They have won essentially 10% more of their contests than last year's team. That's the sort of swing that puts you in the heart of contention. That's the sort of record that makes you a playoff team in mid-June.
To put things more bluntly, at this point last year Robinson Cano had two home runs, was hitting .237 with a wRC+ of 67, and being touted as the least-trade-able asset in the entire league.
It is June 14th and Robinson Cano has eighteen home runs. He is the 15th best position player in MLB by fWAR.