Long Live King Felix
One of the best players in Seattle Mariner history may be hanging up his crown at the end of the season. Let’s take a look back at a legacy filled with triumphant moments and unforgettable history.
Felix Hernandez was a young prospect from Venezuela that was given a chance to prove himself and he took everything he could from his opportunity. He moved quickly through the Mariners farm system while receiving the nickname “King Felix” en route to the big leagues.
He made his Major League debut on August 4, 2005, at 19 years old. In the years to come, Felix would pitch an immaculate inning (striking out all three batters on nine pitches) as well as becoming the first Mariners pitcher to hit a home run (which was a grand slam).
In 2010 Felix won the American League Cy Young Award. He won it at only 24-years-old, that season he posted a 13-12 record with a 2.27 ERA. He had the lowest run support of his career with 3.1 runs per game.
He was able to pitch deep into ball games that season with an average of 7.3 innings per start which led the majors. Felix also led the league in ERA, innings pitched, and quality starts.
It’s hard to forget the famous slow walk back to the dugout after Felix rang up another lame batter. The confidence he displayed to take a nice stroll back to his throne is unparalleled. With the gold chain popped and hat tilted slightly to the side, Felix had that swagger about him to have fun while playing ball.
In 2011, a court fit for a king was finally established. There is nothing like it in baseball, a unique fan experience where people go to the game to support just one player. One day a week fans got the opportunity to attend the King’s Court and cheer on a Seattle icon.
Nestled down in the left-field corner, a yellow mob chanted the well-known “K” while flashing their K-Cards. Turning on the TV to see hundreds of people chanting behind Felix in an 0-2 count was always something special.
On August 15th, 2012, Mariner baseball would change forever. One knee raised and two fingers point to the sky. This was an iconic pose in Seattle after Felix completed his perfect game. King Felix holds the only perfect game in Seattle Mariners history. The 23rd of its kind in Major League Baseball.
He struck out the side in the 6th and 8th innings with 12 batters retired on the day. One of the most memorable moments in Seattle sports history, I’ll never forget the day that the king reached perfection.
Felix is the winningest Mariner in franchise history with 169 wins. He has a career record of 169-135 with a 3.42 ERA. He has been named to six All-Star games, won two ERA titles, and won a Cy Young Award.
The King was known for his blazing fastball and deceptive off-speed pitches. Felix holds the record for the most strikeouts in Seattle Mariner history with 2,521. He has a career average of 8.3 K/9 IP.
“Happy Felix Day” was a phrase used by Mariner fans whenever he took the mound. No matter who Seattle was playing, we always had a chance when Felix was pitching. It almost feels like a holiday or a special occasion when he stepped on the hill.
No matter the score, Felix is a fighter. He gave so much to the city of Seattle and it will be hard to ever repay him. In his 15 years with the Mariners, the team had a losing record in 10 of those 15 seasons and he never made it to the playoffs.
When he pitched, it was common that he didn’t get a lot of run support. During this time, his offense averaged 4.0 runs per game which is well below the league average of 4.5. Felix stuck through the tough times and pitched well during them.
In 417 starts, he pitched his way to 258 (62%) quality starts. Despite the limited offense, the King showed his loyalty and I respect him a lot for that.
The legacy that he leaves behind is one with a lot of weight on his shoulders. An entire decade of Mariner baseball that was known as King Felix’s team.
Thousands of strikeouts for Mariner fans to cheer about, a perfect game that will forever be talked about in baseball history, and 15 years of excellence. Long live the King, Felix Hernandez.