The 2016 season has been a FIGURATIVE roller coaster ride for the Seattle Mariners. Up and then down and then up and then down. So much whiplash. Unfortunately, their most recent home stand once again tipped the coaster in a precipitously dangerous downward direction. Losing four of six games to two teams just above you in the Wild Card race is... not advisable. Seattle's playoff hopes still glister faintly on the ever-nearing horizon of this baseball season, but the fog is quickly rolling in to obscure those post-season dreams; the Mariners desperately need to win, win, win if they want to play meaningful October baseball.
However, if they fail to make the playoffs, it would be handy to know which players are the most deserving candidates to bear the brunt of our collective ire. This can be discovered by determining the M's that have had the most disappointing years in terms of failing to meet pre-season expectations. To figure this out, I compared the projected fWAR from the beginning of the season to the fWAR values that players have accumulated to date. (I used FG's Depth Chart projections for this comparison because those are the values that I had handy.) Using this information, I was able to put together the following table:
Some players (hello Paxton and the heart of the order) have appreciably exceeded their pre-season expectations, but overall the M's core has been somewhat of a disappointment. Eight individuals are more than 0.5 fWAR below their pre-season projections, but the worst offenders are Adam Lind, Ketel Marte, and Felix Hernandez. What a bunch of bums! Their failure to live up to expectations is likely caused by a combination of many factors including injury, sickness, adjusting to a new environment, not being quite ready to be an everyday player, and aging. However, there's another much more insidious variable that these three players have in common.
IT'S THEIR HAIR.
In case you were somehow unaware, Felix, Ketel, and Adam have all bleached their hair at some point during this season. Each of their heads currently gives off an unnatural platinum glow. Here is a chart showing their average hair colors (extracted from images found on the Internet) before and after deciding to apply hydrogen peroxide to their scalps.
(Note: The average hair color is highly-dependent upon the lighting of a photograph; I endeavored to find images with comparable lighting, but some variances from the a player's "true" hair colors are likely to exist in these images. I apologize. Nonetheless, the overall trends/changes in hair color are consistent with reality.)
Two things can be immediately discerned from these data. First, none of the players benefited aesthetically by changing their hair color. The hydrogen peroxide treatment made all of them look more like a doofus and less like a cool guy. I've used a very scientific method to arrive at this conclusion, so this analysis is definitely 100% objective. Additionally, it can be observed that the level of bleaching/color change scales directly with the level of disappointment these players have demonstrated this season. Bleach is clearly a PDD (a performance-decreasing drug).
At this point, an engaged reader might point out that both Marte and Lind showed signs of struggling before they dyed there hair, thus disproving my theory. I suppose that one could choose to interpret the data this way. However, one could also reach the much more likely conclusion that bleaching one's hair is so ill-advised and terrible that the repercussions of doing so stretch beyond the bounds of linear time. I'm afraid that dyeing your 'do influences events in the present, the future, and the past. This would also help explain Felix's struggles last season.
I don't know how far-reaching these effects are or if there's something special about these three individuals that makes them particularly susceptible to bleach-related failure. (At least one previous Mariners player bleached a portion of his hair and was quite successful.) Maybe Felix, Ketel, and Adam are all long-lost descendants of Samson and bleaching their hair has leached away a portion of their baseball-playing prowess? It's hard to say for sure. Regardless, one hopes that each of these gentlemen will make better hair-related decisions in the future.
Despite the disappointing campaigns of these players, the Mariners are still in the playoff hunt. They sit two games back of the second Wild Card position with 10 regular-season games remaining in their 2016 schedule. They must leapfrog three other teams to reach the post-season, which means they likely need to win at least seven (but probably eight) of their remaining games. BP lists their current playoff odds at 11.9%. FG says 13.4%. FiveThirtyEight reports 15%. Can they do it? Maybe. Only time will tell.
Just win, Mariners.