August was the month that the Mariners won in extras on a walk-off balk, in a game which awarded Adam Warren the win, and which was sandwiched by two blowout losses. That game was a highlight of the last 30 days.
There’s still technically a month of baseball left to play, but the way the Mariners played in August they all but guaranteed it would be their last month of truly meaningful baseball. They went 12-16, a record made even mildly salvageable by the fact they somehow swept the Houston Astros in four games at Minute Maid Park. Beyond that series they managed to string together two wins in a row just twice: two games against the Diamondbacks, and back-to-back victories against the Blue Jays and the Rangers, the latter of which they won by the skin of their teeth in the 12th inning.
To sum up August in one sentence: Andrew Romine was the 10th most valuable player on the team.
MVP of the Month (hitter): Mitch Haniger
Head and shoulders above the rest this month (though there wasn’t much competition), Meeetch slashed a wicked .345/.392/.571 with a 165 wRC+. He also managed to drop his K% down to 20%, and was ultimately worth 1.3 fWAR for the month. Nelson Cruz has to be grateful Mitch is here to help him shoulder the end-of-year load. Goodness knows his “best friend” isn’t.
MVP of the Month (pitcher): Edwin Diaz
Yes, still. We may never see a better season for a closer in our lifetimes. Technically he and Mike Leake tied for greatest value in August, with 0.6 fWAR, but Edwin threw 20 fewer innings and did not walk a single batter. This was also the month he broke the franchise record for single-season saves, and made good on his pre-season-50-saves bet with Scott Servais. As of this (late) writing, he is ten saves shy of tying the Major League record.
Best “surprise”: Robinson Canó’s Return
There was a lot of nonsense swirling around about the potentially negative impact of Robinson Canó’s return from an 80-game PED suspension. They were dumb worries, fueled by disingenuous polls from local media publications and radio talk shows, and there was never any real need to be concerned. He’s been essentially the same excellent player that he was in the first half, now with added...positional flexibility? Jury’s still out on all that. But hey, no need to stress about the postseason without Canó now!
Biggest disappointment: Cameron Maybin
I want to say it isn’t his fault, and part of it’s not! Part of it is that he was the only position player the Mariners acquired at the trade deadline, despite a number of their current players struggling mightily, and so he’ll be forever viewed as a representation of Jerry Dipoto’s overwhelming failure at one of the most critical points in recent franchise history. I’m sorry, Cameron. That’s not a fair burden to lay upon you. You can share it with Zach Duke (0 fWAR for the month) and Adam Warren (-0.01 fWAR) if that helps? Unfortunately, though, no one but you can be blamed for your team-worst August: -0.4 fWAR, 40 wRC+, and a single stolen base (one of the main things he seemed to be acquired for) in 72 PAs.
*Author’s note: Kyle Seager has also been bad. His offensive crimes have been so egregious that they warrant their own separate piece, which you can look forward to tomorrow.
Best game: August 12 vs the Houston Astros, 4-3
Ryon Healy homered to tie it up in the ninth, Haniger doubled for the fifth time in the four game series to secure the lead in the tenth, and Díaz coerced Brian DeLunas into calling the dugout and demanding he be allowed to pitch for the save. They left Houston riding high, and it was all downhill from there.
Worst game: N/A
There are just so many choices. Two blowout losses against the Dodgers, any of the losses from their losing series against the Blue Jays and the Rangers, two one-run losses against the A’s. They scored a meager 111 runs in the entire month, and were swept in a two-game series by the San Diego Padres. I’ve never simply shut games off with more impunity.
Best series: Houston Astros 8/9-8/12
They swept the World Champion Astros in four games in Houston, something that had never been accomplished in team history. It was great. Unfortunately they yacked out a sock the rest of the month, which put a real damper on any joy.
Worst series: San Diego Padres 8/28-8/29
The Dodgers series was a brutal battering, yes, but the Dodgers’ opening day payroll in 2018 was the lowest it has been in six years, and still $20 million higher than the Mariners’ franchise-high opening day payroll this season. I’m not going to compare a diamond legacy to a history of cubic zirconium. The Padres series was supposed to be a balm, something to soothe the full-body hives induced by the rest of the month. Instead, the M’s flopped and, in doing so, pounded another nail into an increasingly snug coffin.