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Commentary: The Mariners odds of a World Series title are more than 2x worse than last year – is that fair?

With their season opener at Safeco Field this Thursday, the Mariners are listed as 50-1 longshots to win the World Series. 50-1.

Now, we don’t condone gambling, but I’d like to dissect this number further – more than just saying that there are two ways of looking at this:
1. That the complete optimist can get quite a deal on the M’s right now, or
2. The M’s simply aren’t expected to come anywhere close to a championship

First, some perspective: This exact time last year, the M’s were 22-1 to win the World Series. That means their odds are more than two times worse right now than they were last year.

On the surface, that’s sad. But to me, it doesn’t make much sense.

Because if you look at their projected Opening Day Roster, I’d argue that offensively, it’s comparable if not better than last year: More speed with Dee Gordon, more potential power at first base with Ryon Healy, surrounding perennial stalwarts like Cano, Cruz and Seager.

So maybe it comes down to pitching. But should the starting rotation, which brings back Felix and James Paxton, be considered more than twice as bad as it was last year? I really don’t think so.

And despite some crushing bullpen injuries, like the loss of David Phelps, the group of M’s relievers are still arguably a comparable if not stronger group than they were last year.

In fact, take a look at this Twitter poll from earlier today: More than 1000 votes, with a really split vote on whether this year’s projected roster is better, worse, or about the same as one year ago.

The only real reason I think their World Series odds are significantly worse this year, comes down to the fact that a divisional foe, the Houston Astros, are now considered one of the favorites to win it all. The Astros were 12-1 to win it all at the start of last year and better than 6-1 right now. If the Astros are considered a lock to win the division, it’d obviously be tougher for the M’s to win a championship as a Wild Card team.

What I will say is this: To me, it’s not a good look that Jerry Dipoto, now in his third season as GM, has a team with a Top 10 Payroll in all of baseball at around $165 million that’s considered a 50-1 longshot to win a championship.

That’s a lot of money for a team with such low expectations!

Now, as we say every year, hope springs eternal, and if all the hypotheticals go their way... “If they can stay healthy...if the younger starting pitchers can hold their own...if they can stay competitive within their division…” then of course they’ll have a chance to break a 17-year playoff-less streak.

And while I continue to hold out hope that will be the case, it’s still frustrating that we're another year into a regime change, and those championship odds aren’t any better - and in fact, they’re significantly worse.