The season is over for the Seattle Mariners, and some may argue that it has been over for quite a while. The team jumped out to one of the greatest starts not just in franchise history, but of all-time. They were 13-2, and things were looking good in Seattle.
Reality hit hard, and it hit fast.
The team would go on to lose 43 of their next 61 games. Midway through the month of June, only two months later, they were 15 games under .500.
They started to tease fans winning six of their next seven, only to drop 16 of their next 20. They were 41-63, and the season was, for all intents and purposes, over.
That doesn’t mean that things are totally bleak for the Seattle Mariners though. Throughout the latter part of the season, they provided a lot of opportunities for the youth in the organization.
The Youth Movement
As that second half of the season rolled along, the lineup was stacked with prospects who were being given a chance to show they belonged in the show. J.P. Crawford was one of those players, tallying nearly 400 at-bats. However, Crawford ended with an OPS of .684 which is not what the team is looking for. His bat left something to be desired, but the glove was exceptional.
Shed Long showed that he might have a spot next to Crawford, although some injuries derailed what was turning into a nice season for the 23-year-old.
Tim Lopes, Kyle Lewis, Braden Bishop, and Jake Fraley all got a taste of MLB baseball this season as well. Their youth and mild success at times showed that if things work out, the Mariners could have an exciting young group of outfielders for years to come.
It wasn’t just the hitting that got a chance to showcase their talent either. Erik Swanson ended up with 58 innings, though he struggled at a 5.74 ERA. Justus Sheffield finished with 36 innings and had a similarly ugly ERA at 5.50. Both struggled but getting their feet wet this season was just what they needed.
Gerson Bautista and Justin Dunn, both acquired via trade, also got a little taste of the big leagues, each finishing with under ten innings.
More Youth to Come
There are more youngsters waiting in the wings for this team, and they were crushing it in the minor leagues this year.
Check out the Seattle Mariners prospects and their associated rankings, and you can see why it is okay to get excited. Especially seeing the progress of those prospects.
Jarred Kelenic came over in the Cano/Diaz trade and immediately made the Mets regret it. He’s now up to #13 overall, and the #4 outfielder in MLB’s prospect rankings. The 20-year-old put up a 20-20 combined season, becoming one of the few in history to put up a 20-20-20 season (years-homers-steals).
Julio Rodriguez is right on his heels. At only 18, he exploded after being called up to High-A, hitting .462 in 65 at-bats. He’s jumped all the way to #25, forming a fantastic 1-2 prospect punch for the Seattle Mariners.
Logan Gilbert and Justin Dunn form a similar punch on the mound, ranking 48th and 70th in the prospect rankings, and should see a lot more action next year.
Lastly, Evan White comes in at 58th and might have one of the best gloves ever for a first baseman. The bat has shown improvement as well, as a change in swing path led to 18 home runs this year, showing more power than was previously thought.
A New Face Behind the Plate
When the Mariners got rid of Mike Zunino in the offseason, fans felt a mixed reaction. He was one of the better defenders in the league and made his pitchers better. It was a different case when he went to the plate with lumber in his hand.
Zunino had plenty of ups and downs at the plate. He showed that he could be a dark horse MVP candidate after hitting over .250 after the short demotion to the minors. He also could hit below the Mendoza line.
Zunino would struggle mightily in Tampa this year, but most Seattle Mariners fans have forgotten about him due to his replacement, Omar Narvaez.
Narvaez was one of the best hitting catchers in all of baseball this season. He was second only to Wilson Ramos in batting average and would hit 22 home runs as well. Pair that with a low strikeout rate at 19.8% and a decent walk rate, and the Mariners finally have a catcher who can hit.
No Longer a King
We all knew this was coming, and we have known for a few years. Felix Hernandez is done in Seattle. Thankfully, he was able to go out on a high note and to top it off, he was able to do it on his home field. He did get the loss, but only gave up three runs through 5.1 innings, and received an incredible ovation from the Seattle crowd.
Hernandez will go down as one of the top Seattle Mariners of all time, as well as one of the best pitchers to ever don a Mariners uniform. He may only be 33 years old, but there are a lot of innings on Felix’s arm.
He took the mound for the first time for the team as a teenager back in 2005. Although he consistently lacked run support, his performance was dominant for the better part of a decade.
He would lead the league in ERA twice, both in 2010 and 2014. His best seasons came in 2009, 2010, and 2013, where he would finish 2nd, 1st, and 2nd in Cy Young voting. The Cy Young win in 2010 was even more surprising as he finished 13-12, and helped more people believe in analytics, and the fact that the “win” statistic is incredibly overrated.
Long live the King.
Author Twitter: @GolfCoachODay
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