Mariners: The downturn of two hall of famers
By Jesse Levine
Three years ago Mariners fans were watching two players on track to reach the podium in Cooperstown, New York. Today they are witnessing two great careers with Hall of Fame potential be destroyed by poor performance for one, and terrible judgment for the other.
Latin teammates Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez had their career’s go from 100-0 faster than many. If asked in the recent past which current players belong in the hall, Cano and King Felix would make the short list without a doubt.
There are 30 teams in baseball, and by my calculations, there is only one team with two Hall of Fame locks when their careers come to an end. That team is located in LA, and yes indeed it is Seattle’s AL West rivals, the Los Angeles Angels, with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
So what happened to the Mariners two stars? What was it that unlocked these two Cooperstown locks? And is it too late for them to earn back their spot? All are interesting questions, with pretty simple answers.
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Not many were better than Hernandez in the late ’00’s and early 10’s. The king finished 2nd in Cy Young Award voting in 2009 and won it the next season.
Nearing the end of an era when wins and losses meant something, Hernandez was so dominant his 13-12 record didn’t matter one bit.
Hernandez wasn’t only an ace but a horse. He tacked up eight straight years of 200 innings plus, with his last 200+ year being his final great year of 2015.
His six years of over 200 strikeouts earned him a fan club in left field, one of the coolest area in all of sports; Kings Court.
The number two prospect of the 2005 draft lived up to all that was hoped and more. But after arm troubles and a drop in velocity Hernandez is now a shadow of his former self.
His drastic decline after hitting the age of 30 was so significant that he can’t possibly be a Hall of Famer.
In order to have a plaque, you have to be Sandy Koufax in your 20’s, if you’re going to be Chris Bosio in your 30’s. And frankly, Hernandez wasn’t comparable to the great Dodgers left-hander.
But it, of course, is possible for Hernandez to earn back his once almost guaranteed position. No one is expecting him to be who he used to be, but he could revolutionize himself and find success.
He’s not the only guy to decline in his 30’s, but with his Hall of Fame potential, his drop of is more noticeable and more frustrating.
Robinson Cano was a Hall of Fame inductee just a few weeks ago. He is a career .300 hitter, with over 300 bombs. He played excellent defense at second base to go along with a championship in New York with the Yankees. There was no doubt about where he stood in the game.
The smooth-swinging left-handed hitter came to the Mariners as a free agent after the 2013 season. The ten yrs/$240M went to the dumps when it came out that Cano tested positive for a banned substance.
Cano, the 35-year old veteran has been a clog on the Mariners for a few years now, and with him down, there is a huge hole to fill in the middle of the club’s order.
If Cano wants to earn back the respect of his fans and rebuild his Hall of Fame chances, he will have to have a Bartolo Colon-like comeback. He will need to continue long enough for fans to forget about his blip on the road.
But Cano has been a big-time player for years, and this news makes for a big story because of that. Don’t expect this report to go away.
Cano will not be in the Hall of Fame, and his failed test is the reason why.
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Baseball witnessed two unique talents for many years, talents that belonged in the Hall of Fame. But unfortunately, what was meant to me won’t be what will be.
Robinson Cano will not be a Hall of Famer, and for Felix, well, the odds are now against him.