Seattle Mariners: Enjoy Felix While You Can
Where would the Seattle Mariners be without Felix Hernandez? How would the years between 2005 and now be different without the King? As he enters his final of his contract and in a year that won’t be very important at the big league level, it is time that the Mariners and their fans to bid one final farewell to one the greatest Mariners of all time.
I get it. Mariners fans have soured on the King in recent years. It’s no secret that Felix isn’t what he used to be. His 5.55 ERA over 155.2 innings in 2018 was easily the worst of his career. Add that to his 4.36 in 2017 and it is pretty clear that Felix has fallen off a cliff over the past three seasons. But that doesn’t matter in 2019.
If Felix is bad in 2019, it doesn’t affect the team. The M’s don’t plan on making the playoffs this coming season so if Felix loses 15 games and gives up roughly one billion runs, then fine. If Felix is great and posts a sub 4.00 ERA, then that’s amazing. Felix’s 2019 performance should not dictate his legacy as a Seattle Mariner.
Nearly six years ago, Felix Hernandez walked into Safeco Field and signed one of the most momentous contracts in Mariners history. The King was in tears as he spoke so highly of the city that gave him basically nothing up to that point. Of course, money talks and that contract made Felix the highest paid pitcher in baseball history at the time.
Still, Hernandez likely could have found a similar contract in Free Agency. Felix wanted to stay. He loved Seattle. He loved the fans. The extension that he signed that year was one of the biggest feel-good moments that has ever occurred in a Mariners uniform.
It is incredibly hard to explain just how good Felix Hernandez was at his peak. The King owned a 2.27 ERA in 2010 at the age of 24 years old. He pitched 249.2 Innings while striking out 232 hitters. He won the Cy Young and was 16th in AL MVP voting that year. The year before that, Felix owned a 2.49 ERA and won 19 games.
In 2014, Felix pitched to a 2.14 ERA while striking out nearly 250 batters and finished SECOND in the Cy Young voting (damn you Corey Kluber) and 10th in the MVP vote.
The point is, Felix Hernandez was one of the very best pitchers in baseball and gave everything he had to the city of Seattle. It’s the least we can do, as fans of Mariners, to give the King the send-off he deserves. Some can argue that Felix got the money, so he doesn’t deserve anything more. Baseball has become so much of a “what have you done for me lately” game that the accomplishments of Felix Hernandez have been overlooked.
Felix Hernandez was once on the fast track to the Hall of Fame. It now seems the King has strayed from the path, although his number are still good. He has a 3.34 ERA over 2,658 career innings pitched, good for a 50.9 bWAR. That is ahead of both Dwight Gooden and Mark Langston and just behind Orel Hershiser.
Felix is in some pretty good company and he will be 33 in April. Felix is far from done in his eyes and I hope he’s right. There is no doubt that he is a Mariners Hall of Famer.
What’s not to love about Felix? We will miss his antics with Adrian Beltre. He threw the first perfect game in Mariners history in 2012 and the last one since. The first in 34 years for number 34. Felix embodies the Seattle Mariners better than anyone else in Mariners history.
He has been here his whole career, just as recently elected Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez was. Without Felix, the Seattle Mariners are unbeatable to watch from 2008-2012.
It’s hard to not love Felix. I grew up watching him and he debuted when I was just 9 years old. He peaked when I was in Middle School and High School. Without Felix, my Mariners fandom would not be nearly as prominent as it is today.
I wrote an article last offseason about the Mariners needing to extend Felix. While I don’t believe Felix has much value to the team beyond the 2019 season on the mound, I still believe Felix could play an important role in the rebuild of the Mariners. Justus Sheffield said it best. When asked what guy he was excited to meet and watch, he said Felix without any hesitation.
Felix has that kind of aura surrounding him. He may not be at the top of his game anymore but he still has a lot that he can teach a young player like Sheffield. If the Mariners can sign Felix to a team friendly, incentive-laden deal then the M’s should jump on the opportunity. The added bonus of maybe getting the King to the playoffs is even better.
2019 may be the last time that we ever get to watch Felix Hernandez pitch in a Mariners uniform. While it is great to see Felix’s money come off the books for 2020, it is going to be hard to see him leave for maybe the last time. Felix is, and forever will be a Mariner. Always remember what he has done for Seattle. Long Live King Felix.