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American League West in 3 Eras

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Sports & Recreation

Baseball’s American League West has played with three different team combinations since the Seattle Mariners first took the Kingdome field in April, 1977. The initial configuration boasted seven teams hailing from cities as far east as Kansas City and Chicago.  After seventeen years, Major League Baseball divided itself into six divisions instead of the previous four in 1994.  That left the AL West with a tiny cast of four teams: three on the Pacific Coast and one lone inland city in far away Arlington, Texas.  In 2013 the current contingent of five teams appeared when the Houston Astros emigrated from the National League. That change brought the number of teams in the AL West up to 5, simultaneously balancing all the other divisions and giving Texas a nearby rival.  That makes only two reshufflings since 1977.*  Expansions and team movements happened a few times in that time but always in other divisions, leaving the AL West untouched.

We thought we’d list the three eras of division play since the Mariners came into existence.  Below are the combined win-loss records of all the teams that shared the AL West with Seattle.    It’s clear from their cumulative last place finishes in both previous eras that the M’s haven’t had the long-term success enjoyed by other teams.  To its credit, however, Seattle has had Ken Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, and the record-setting 116-win season of 2001.  No World Series, but plenty of  excitement.  (But a World Series would be nice!)

NOTE: The “Position Range” column in the lists below shows the range of division finishes for each team.  For example, during the 1977-93 era, the Mariners finished as high as 4th place and as low as 7th, so their range is listed as 4th-7th.  Dates in the “World Series” column denote years the team played in the World Series.  The year is in bold type if the team won that season.

THE THREE DIVISIONAL ERAS IN SEATTLE MARINER HISTORY


1. American League West, 1977-1993 (17 years)

Team Games Wins Losses Pct. Position
Range
1st Place
Finishes
World Series
Kansas City Royals 2693 1418 1275 .527 1st-7th 5 1980, 1985
Chicago White Sox 2691 1353 1338 .503 1st-7th 2
Oakland Athletics 2700 1340 1360 .496 1st-7th 5 1988, 1989, 1990
California Angels 2700 1336 1364 .495 1st-7th 3
Texas Rangers 2693 1315 1378 .488 2nd-7th 0
Minnesota Twins 2699 1302 1397 .482 1st-7th 2 1987, 1991
Seattle Mariners 2698 1166 1532 .432 4th-7th 0

The Astros during this period were 1369-1334 (.506).


2. American League West, 1994-2012 (19 years)

Team Games Wins Losses Pct. Position
Range
1st Place
Finishes
World Series
Los Angeles Angels* 3013 1589 1424 .527 1st-4th 5  2002
Oakland Athletics 3010 1561 1449 .519 1st-4th 5
Texas Rangers 3012 1531 1481 .508 1st-4th 6  2010, 2011
Seattle Mariners 3009 1498 1511 .498 1st-4th 3

The Astros during this period were 1526-1486 (.506) with one World Series appearance in 2005.


3. American League West, 2013- (4 years)
[Note: The standings below were updated after the end of the 2016 season.]

Team Games Wins Losses Pct. Position
Range
1st Place
Finishes
World Series
Texas Rangers 649 341 308 .526 1st-5th 2
Los Angeles Angels 648 335 313 .517 1st-4th 1
Oakland Athletics 648 321 327 .495 1st-5th 1
Seattle Mariners 648 320 328 .494 2nd-4th 0
Houston Astros 648 291 357 .449 2nd-5th 0

*There was one or more additional eras in the history of the American League West between its creation in 1969 and the eve of expansion in 1976.  The Seattle Mariners weren’t involved in that period so we left it out above.  Why did we write an indecisive “one or more” eras?  It depends how you score it. There were six teams in the pre-Mariners AL West, including the Seattle Pilots in 1969.  The Pilots moved to Milwaukee the next year.  A few years later in another division the Washington Senators migrated to Texas and became the Rangers.  Then Milwaukee and Texas swapped divisions.  Through all those changes, the division maintained six teams at a time.  Was it one era? Two? Three? Someone else can figure that out.

**The Angels didn’t physically wander during the 1994-2012 era, but they did go through an identity crisis of sorts.  They were the California Angels, Anaheim Angels, and finally Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  We’re waiting for them to work Disneyland into the name someday.

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