Finding the good in the bad
It’s been a long season for the Seattle Mariners, and personally a long season for this pundit. I’ve done a lot of these “love ‘em & hate ‘em” pieces for a lot of games. Some were fun, some were horribly depressing.
That’s pretty indicative of the 2012 Seattle Mariners.
At times they were a joy to watch. Other times, it was all you could do to look away.
Here are a few of the best, and worst, points of the 2012 season.
Felix Hernandez Throws a Perfect Game
By far the biggest highlight of the year. Perhaps even one of the biggest moments of the franchise.
August 15, 2012, Safeco Field, the Seattle Mariners versus the Tampa Bay Rays. Starting for the M’s would be Felix Hernandez.
He stepped onto the mound one of the best pitchers in Mariners history. Nine frames later and he stepped off as the best.
Nine innings, 12 strikeouts, zero hits, zero walks and zero errors. Not only was this the first perfect game of Hernandez’s career, but the first in Mariner history.
It was certainly a huge highlight on the season, and one it seemed Felix was destined to make.
The perfecto came in the middle of an August stretch that would see the King go 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA, 0.576 WHIP, 6.20 K/BB ratio and three complete game shutouts.
When things are going rough you can always turn to the future. And despite the final standings, Seattle has a bright road ahead. That came through with a lot of breakout seasons by different Mariners. These three I found to be the biggest.
1. Charlie Furbush: the 26-year old lefty posted a 5-2 record with a 2.72 ERA, 0.950 WHIP and 10.3 K/9 in 46.1 innings of relief. Nearly 30% of his appearances would span more than one inning, making him Seattle’s most reliable reliever all season long.
2. Kyle Seager: playing in his second season with the club, the 24-year old lead the team in home runs (20), RBI (86) and OPS (.738). He was a beast on the road, posting a .835 OPS with 15 of his home runs coming away from Safeco Field.
3. Michael Saunders: finally given a starters gig, Saunders ran away with it in 2012. He finished the season hitting .247/.306/.432—tying Seager for OPS—with 19 home runs and 21 stolen bases.
Internal Building Becomes the Focus
In continuation with Jack Z’s bottom line, the Mariners continued to build internally in 2012.
Before the season even started they traded starter Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi. This gave them the middle of the order bat they desperately needed, and a reliable back-end of the rotation starter.
This season’s amateur draft was a huge success, with the Mariners taking catcher Mike Zunino with their first round pick. Zunino was considered the best college prospect in the draft, and finished the season with a 1.137 OPS and 13 home runs in the minors.
A major focus was turned towards the Mariners slew of top prospects. The biggest attention grabbers were pitcher Danny Hultzen and shortstop Nick Franklin, both of whom made it to AAA Tacoma on June 19th.
Another Tough Year to Swallow
The Mariners didn’t come into 2012 with huge expectations. But as the season went on it seemed anything was possible, especially with the success of teams such as the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles.
While Seattle had some major hot streaks, they never lasted. The team constantly took one step forward, and two steps back.
This season’s 75-87 record is Seattle’s third losing season in a row, though it is their best mark since 2009.
The season was mired in injuries and inconsistent play. Several players couldn’t do anything at home, while others completely fizzled down the stretch.
All-in-all it was just another losing season for the Seattle Mariners.
While the Mariners enjoyed several breakout campaigns, there were also several disappointing ones. Guys who needed to take that next step in their baseball development, and failed.
1. Franklin Gutierrez: after taking a major step back in 2011, the Mariners needed a big year from Guti. While his stats finished strong, the center fielder only played in 40 games for the M’s because of constant injuries.
2. Dustin Ackley: after a great rookie season in 2011, Seattle had big hopes for Ackley. He ended the season hitting a mere .226/.294/.328.
3. Justin Smoak: many saw this as Smoak’s last chance with the team, and while he blazed through September it doesn’t erase the entirety of his disappointing season. He finished the year with a .654 OPS—the lowest of his career.
Saying Farewell in Right
While the July 23rd trade of Ichiro Suzuki was the right thing for both parties, it was still a sad thing to see.
Ichiro seemed constantly out of place for the 2012 Mariners, and was a weight on that lineup. After hitting a mere .261 on the year he requested a trade, and was shipped off to New York.
Seattle relieved itself of financial responsibilities, while Ichiro is headed to the playoffs for the second time in his career.
It is still sad to see the once face of the franchise in pinstripes.
His 10 and a half seasons in Seattle will never be forgotten.
When he’s inducted into the hall of fame, I have no doubt it’ll be wearing No. 51.