Right now, you're feeling good. The Seattle Mariners had an active offseason in which they didn't end up surrendering much youth. They tried, of course, but ultimately, they didn't. The Mariners are about to hold a press conference at Safeco Field to officially announce a Felix Hernandez long-term contract extension. Pitchers and catchers have reported to camp, so spring training's underway, and spring training is when everyone who isn't the Astros gets a chance to dream the glorious dreams. There are more positive vibes than negative vibes at the moment, so maybe this is exactly the time to note that the Mariners have been picked in a couple places as the most likely American League 2013 surprise.
Here's something from Bill James Online, written by not Bill James. Here's something from Eric Karabell at ESPN. The authors set out to identify the team most likely to catch people by surprise -- in a good way -- and they settled on the Mariners, subsequently citing reasons for why the Mariners make good sense. You can say this much: they don't not have arguments.
Now, naturally, there are abundant flaws here, like the very premise. When you go looking for the next Orioles or A's, you overlook the possibility of there not being another Orioles or A's. There's no guarantee of any team taking huge strides forward. And when you look for a surprise, you can't look at teams whose success wouldn't be surprising. You're trying to predict what is, in a way, unpredictable. By definition, surprises aren't anticipated.
The Seattle Mariners As A Surprise
Lookout Landing | Feb 13