Less Than Spectacular
Before getting this article, let’s all participate in a breathing exercise. Take a deep breath, hold it in for awhile while thinking about the Seattle Mariners‘ season so far, and let out a huge, collective “UGH!”
That pretty much sums up what Seattle’s season has been like so far.
After a Spring Training record that may have indicated this team was trending upwards and a 2-0 start against the Oakland Athletics, the Mariners have, well, been the Mariners. Giving us a small glimmer of hope and then crushing it with poor play all across the board, this feeling is usually shared by all Seattle baseball fans come the mid-late season. This year the Mariners already look like a desperate team.
Not having won a series in 2013, dropping 4-of-6 to the Astros (THE ASTROS) early on, and a team batting average of .228 have what fans were thinking about attending a game trying to figure out what else they can do on that particular day.
One of the reasons this has occurred are several players not living up to their potential. Please, don’t act surprised.
That being said, in the midst of all this negativity and lackluster play that has been the Seattle Mariners so far, there have been a few players that have been delightful to watch.
Here are three underachieving–and overachieving–Mariners so far this year.
Let’s get one thing straight, players come in to the league with a certain amount of talent and potential. That is why Dustin Ackley more than deserves to be on this list.
Don’t get me wrong, I love who he is as a player and the potential he has to become an outstanding ballplayer, he’s just not really showing us that all of his talent wasn’t wasted in college.
A No. 2 pick in the MLB Draft, Ackley had an atrocious start to the season but has recently started to turn the corner, raising his average to .230.
Though he has started to show signs that he is seeing and connecting with the ball better, his terrible start earns him a spot on this list.
Like Ackley, Justin Smoak was supposed to be the real deal. Coming over from the Texas Rangers, Smoak was supposed to be the answer for the Mariners at first base but has failed to live up to his potential and reputation.
Currently boasting a .228 average, Smoak needs to get his head right and select better pitches to take hacks at before proving to Seattle fans that he isn’t yet another bust for the club and organization.
I was almost tempted to put the entire Mariners back-end of the rotation and bullpen–excluding Tom Wilhelmsen, Stephen Pryor, and Oliver Perez–on this list, but went with Blake Beavan because he pretty much sums up Seattle’s pitching woes.
After surprising Mariners fans with a decent 11-11 year where he was dominant at times, Beavan is 0-1 this year with a 7.85 ERA in six games with two starts. In the 18.1 innings he has pitched, he has allowed 16 runs. Last year he allowed just 76 runs in 168 innings.
At the rate he’s going, he’s on pace to surrender around 148 runs this year.
Improve or be sent down, Beavan.
As awful as some of Seattle’s pitching has been to watch this year, Hisashi Iwakuma has been thrilling. Now with a record of 2-1 on the year, Iwakuma has compiled a 1.99 ERA in five starts and 31.2 innings pitched. He has allowed just 18 hits, 8 runs–seven earned–and five walks. His 29 strikeouts are second behind Felix Hernandez on the team.
Baffling hitters with whatever pitch he wants to throw in his diverse arsenal, Iwakuma is quickly becoming a huge breath of fresh air for the Mariners every five games.
It’s a shame Pryor doesn’t get more time on the mound, because this young phenom is currently shutting down opposing hitters. In 7.1 innings of work he has allowed zero runs, three hits, and one walk while recording seven strikeouts.
For lack of a better player to select right now, Endy Chavez has filled in for the injured Michael Saunders (who I was also considering for this spot) quite well. After a season that saw him rack up a .203 average in the majors with Baltimore and .143 average in the minors, Chavez has come back to the Mariners and compiled a .263 average during his time as a replacement for Saunders.
Now I know that isn’t the average a good team would hope for, but at least it’s something more than his .203 and .143 averages from last year.
Plus, for the way Seattle is playing right now and the contributions they are–or are not–getting, Chavez has been a welcomed relief from time-to-time.
(I did consider putting Kyle Seager in one of the overachieving spots but did not select him because he is expected to perform at least at the level he is right now).