Mojo Balls – First Half Awards
The Mariners season is officially half over, as last night they played their 81st game. I figured we’d take advantage of the off day today to hand out a few Mojo Balls to worthy Mariners. What are Mojo Balls you ask? See for yourself. They’re lovely crystal baseballs all photoshopped up. Pretty sweet, huh? I bet you wish you had one.
First Half MVP – Justin Smoak
There hasn’t been much to celebrate when it comes to the position players on the Seattle Mariners. Smoak though, has been the only consistent presence on the team, leading to way to many “Smoak and mirrors” jokes being made about the team’s offense. While arguments could be made on behalf of pitchers of a bunch of pitchers, none of them have individually had the impact that Smoak has had on the team’s win total.
Honorable mentions: Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, Erik Bedard or even David Pauley
Top Pitcher – Michael Pineda
What, not Felix Hernandez? Nope, Pineda has outpitched Felix for most of this season. His 2.65 ERA is in the top 10 for all major league starters, (while his FIP, WAR, and inning pitched definitely lag behind Felix.) Pineda’s dominance in the early parts of this season helped hold this pitching staff together and keep this team in contention thus far.
Honorable Mentions: Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, David Pauley
Biggest Surprise – Adam Kennedy
Maybe this wasn’t a surprise for you, but it definitely was for me. Kennedy came to the Mariners as a non-roster invitee. While he was expected to make the team, it was supposed to just be as a backup infielder who would play sparingly. Instead, Kennedy has established himself as one of the team’s most consistent hitters.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Pineda, David Pauley
Biggest Disappointment – Chone Figgins
Could it really be anyone else? With the exceptions of maybe Dan Uggla and Vernon Wells, it would be hard to find a bigger disappointment in all of baseball. Figgins has been exceedingly bad in all phases of the game, and his $9 mil/year salary is now taking up space on the bench. While I expect him to get playing time at 3B, I wouldn’t expect to see him in the starting lineup more than twice a week for the next month or so.
Honorable Mentions: Ichiro, Josh Lueke, Milton Bradley, Michael Saunders
Most Underrated Performance – Brendan Ryan
Ryan hasn’t hit for a high average, and he certainly doesn’t have much power, yet he’s been a steady contributer on offense since about the start of May. He’s also the team’s second best defensive player (behind Franklin Gutierrez of course) Put those two things together and you a have a very solid player that not enough people are talking about.
Honorable Mentions: Jack Cust, David Pauley, Chris Ray
Most Overrated Performance: Miguel Olivo
Olivo is hitting just .222 with a .666 OBP and a 30% strike out rate. He’s also been Rob Johnson-like behind the plate (which isn’t a good thing) His 12 HR have been great, but he’s doing very little else to help this team win games.
Honorable Mentions: Adam Kennedy, Jaimey Wright
Most Likely to Improve in 2nd Half – Ichiro Suzuki
As of June 9th, Ichiro’s batting average had sunk to .252. Three weeks later, it’s already up to .275. Whatever adjustment needed to be made have apparently already been made.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Ray, Josh Lueke, Chone Figgins (he has no where to go but up)
Most Likely to Regress in 2nd Half – David Pauley
Pauley had a 4.94 FIP last season. He has a 2.96 FIP so far this year. He’s not striking out more batters than last season, and actually is giving up more line drives. Whatever voodoo he’s using to make himself look like a good pitcher can’t last forever, can it?
Honorable Mentions: Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda
Best Performance by Facial Hair – Erik Wedge’s Mustache
While one might have reason to fault Wedge for his bullpen usage, his overworking the starters, his bench usage, and his odd lineups, you simply can’t find fault with “the stache.” No matter what’s going on in the game, Wedge always looks like he’s stuck back in 1974.
Honorable Mentions: Larry Bernandez’s sideburns
Seattle Sounders style atmosphere at Mariner’s games? yes please! In what originally felt like a cheep gimmick to fill a few more outfield seats turned out to be an amazing revelation for Mariner fans. Now if only we could get that level of excitement every game instead of just when Felix starts at home.
Honorable Mentions: Dave Niehaus Way, Dave Niehaus sign on the center field wall, any other tribute to Dave Niehaus.
Gone is one of the best places to watch Mariner’s games other than your seat, and one of the best places to find knowledgeable fans to talk baseball with. Replace that with a cheesy sports bar where poser fans go to try and look cool. Ya, whoever came up with this idea should be banned from ever thinking again.
Honorable Mentions: Free Ferret Night, Karaoke walk up songs (not real, but still better ideas than The Pen)