2018 Mariners’ Half Year Award Honors
55-31. Let me say that again. 55 and 31. 24 games over .500. .5 games behind the World Champion Houston Astros. The Mariners are 8 games up on the Oakland Athletics for the 2nd WC spot and 12 games in front of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
At the start of the season, I wrote an article praying for a fast start to the season. I think we definitely got that when the Mariners had a record of 16-11 in March/April 16-11, followed by 18-11 record in May. It hasn’t been smooth sailing the whole season with the hiccup of the Robinson Cano suspension. But maybe that is the difference between this team and other Mariners teams in the past. We haven’t let the hiccups derail the whole train.
June was going to be our biggest test and I would have taken a .500 month going 14-14. Running through the gauntlet of June, which every so-called expert said would bring us back down to the pack and we would struggle, the Mariners had something special in order. We smashed out a season-best month by going 19-9, this team is something special.
With 12 games until the All-Star break and a big 6 game series coming up against the Angels, now is a good enough time to have a quick look back at the first half of the season and give out the Cy Young, MVP, Silver Slugger, Breakthrough Player and Fan Fave awards. This first half has been one of the best yet and has exceeded beyond any of the Mariners faithful’s expectations, and the winners of these half-year awards are a testament to the culture we are building.
The award for the Breakthrough Player is Marco Gonzales. Marco came to the Mariners under a deal that almost everyone hated. While I don’t think this was a reflection of Marco but more than many believed we could and should have received more for Tyler O’Neil. When the signing of the deal was done Marco was still coming back of Tommy John surgery last season and many didn’t believe he was ready.
He pitched to a WHIP of 1.745 and an ERA of 5.40, which while wasn’t overwhelming, was still fresh from TJ and he hasn’t used his out pitch– his cutter. Marco has improved all his numbers this season and is starting to live up to his first-round draft pick by the Cardinals.
To keep his form continuing Seattle may have to slow him down as the year goes on to watch his inning limit because he is over 100 innings pitched already this season.
This may be my time to gloat a little. Before the season started here at Sodo Mojo we each wrote an article explaining who ‘our guy’ was for this season, someone who would turn up week in, week out and make the impact the Mariners need to be successful. I tossed around a few names, both up and comers and old timers who are still in their prime. However, I always have my favorite Mariners. My guy for the season was Mitch Haniger and what a choice he has been!
Haniger has absolutely excelled this year, building on his rookie season from last year. Mitch Evan Haniger is an ALL STAR!
In this half of the season, he is running a stat line of .272/.355/.497 and a WAR of 3.3 according to Baseball Reference. His 62 RBI is second in MLB behind only JD Martinez. He has been a stud in the box and while many of his highlights this year have come from RF (where he has 9 outfield assists including my favourite play of the year), his throw from the corner against a bat flipping Luis Valbuena to nail him at second with a no look behind the back tag by Segura was something that will be played on Seattle Mariners highlight reels for years to come.
This one was a tough decision. It could have easily been Haniger or Nelson Cruz. Yet the guy who has held the batting order together this year has been Jean ‘the Hitting Machine’ Segura.
Segura is third in average for the AL with a .335 and is second in hits with 109 only behind Altuve (with 114) and leads the AL with 35 multi-hit games. He has been an integral cog in the line-up. It showed when he missed 4 games in NY and Boston last month, the Mariners struggled when he was out. His 3.1 WAR is second on the team only to Haniger.
Segura is the most consistent and valuable hitter in the line-up and should probably be batting leadoff too. The rest of the season is that much more exciting with Segura in the line-up.
Cy Young Award
James Paxton is the ‘Ace’ card of the Seattle Mariners deck. If we do make the postseason and get into the Wildcard game, he is the guy I want on the hill. Paxton has taken the next step this season ever since the bald eagle landed on his right shoulder, a sign that he is a star in America’s favorite pastime.
To add to his stellar form, Pax seems to kick it into another gear altogether when he is pitching either on Canada Day or in Canada this year. His ‘no-hitter’ in Toronto will be one of the best moments of the season no matter the outcome at the end of the season. The emotion in his reaction and interviews after the game really gave the fans an insight into how much it meant to him doing it in his home country, with Pax pointing to his maple leaf tattoo on his elbow after the game. His pure emotion brought a tear to my eye and I’m not ashamed to say it.
Pax is putting up career highs in WHIP (1.066), K/9 (11.7) and 10 K games, such an asset to the Mariners pitching roster this season.
While there are many guys that could earn the title of Most Valuable Player, including everyone already included in this article and others including Nelson Cruz and at a stretch even Dee Gordon, the award must go to Edwin Diaz.
Diaz has been the difference this season compared to seasons past. When the Mariners give him a 1 run lead, they hold a record of 22-0 and Diaz has 20 saves to his name. He is on pace for a 3.8 WAR. This would be the highest by a reliever since Eric Gange in 2003. Fun fact, he was the last reliever to win the Cy Young award.
Diaz has 31 saves already this season and is well and truly on target to win his bet with manager Scott Servais for having 50 saves this season. I think we are all looking forward to Servais getting an Eddie Diaz style haircut.
This season by far has been the best season to watch as a Mariners fan in recent time. As many other Mariner’s fans would be, I am crossing my fingers and toes for the season to keep traveling on the current path and for the Seattle Mariners to have the opportunity to play well into October. I’d love nothing more to see Safeco bouncing in October.
Next: Top 10 Underrated Mariners Since 2010 (10-6)
Peace and love from Down Under! Go, Mariners.