Five Rays of Hope


September 29, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners third baseman

Kyle Seager

(15, left) is congratulated by designated hitter

John Jaso

(27) for hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Today ends my 35th straight year of rooting each day for my precious Seattle Mariners. The team will finish in last place again but there have been five glimmering rays of hope. These rays have the following names: John Jaso, Kyle Seager, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez and Tom Wilhelmsen.

***John Jaso has had a great year after being given a chance to play. Going into the last game he has 50 RBI’s in only 290 at-bats, 18 doubles and 10 homers. His average is .276 but his OBP is a sterling .394 and his .850 OPS is the best one in years for the Mariners. He is going to finish with more walks than strikeouts for the season with 55 walks to only 50 K’s. This stat puts him in the same league as Edgar Martinez and John Olerud in Mariner history. He has come through in the clutch in pressure situations time and time again. He has been a beam of hope and fun to watch this year.

***Kyle Seager has played a solid third base and has been a consistent hitter. His 85 RBI’s, 20 homers, and 34 doubles surprised me. I thought he would be a good singles hitter but he has become a power guy and will only get better it seems. His last thirty games stats were .303 average, .339 OBP and .853 OPS with five home runs, which are more than encouraging, sunny signs.

***Hisashi Iwakuma has proven to be steal of a signing by GM Jack. Since the All-Star break, he has been lights out. He is 8-4 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. He is going to end the year with a 3.16 ER even after his tough start. The best thing is that he is an Angel killer. He beat them four straight times including out dueling Angel ace Jered Weaver on September second. He was 4-0 with an incredible 1.23 ERA vs the Angels this season. He has to be back in a Mariner uniform next year.

 ***Erasmo Ramirez stats over his last 28.1 innings pitched are impressive. He struck out 23 and walked only five hitters, had a 2.86 ERA and a WHIP of 0.88-a heck of a way to end the season. I love watching control pitchers like this young guy. He could be a star for years and years to come.

September 30, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (50) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

***Tom Wilhelmsen is going to finish his first season as the full-time closer and has been great until this last week or so when he had a few problems. His 1.11 WHIP, 2.50 ERA and converting 29 out of 34 saves has helped define the important bullpen roles for coming years. He came out of nowhere to become a star. His curve ball is one of the best pitches in the entire league.

Those are my top five rays of hope. But there could be others.

Michael Saunders is having a good end to the season and could have a real break-out year next season, especially with the fences at Safeco being moved in a bit. He would easily have had five more homers at home if the new dimensions had been in place this season.

Justin Smoak‘s last thirty games stats are making me a believer once again. Has he figured it out? I think he has. He has had several dazzling hits to the opposite field from both sides of the plate and is hitting not only homers but doubles. I always thought he could and should be a doubles machine. Look at these numbers for the last thirty games:

.351 average, .431 OBP, .610 SLUG, 1.042 OPS with five homers, five doubles and only 12 K’s to 11 walks!