First hit of Opening Day: Seattle Mariners 2010’s edition

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Casey Kotchman #13 of the Seattle Mariners doubles in the tying run of Jose Lopez #4 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the ninth inning at Angel Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Casey Kotchman #13 of the Seattle Mariners doubles in the tying run of Jose Lopez #4 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the ninth inning at Angel Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

We finish up our Opening Day series with the Mariners who welcomed the first base knock of the 2010s. While we saw a positive correlation between the leadoff hit and a successful season by that player, that may not be the case here.

Most of the 2010’s teams consisted of overpaid busts, exposing the ignorance of Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik. Sure, the 2010s featured good Mariners but as a whole, these teams weren’t very good nor fun to watch overall. So how did this compare to the 2000s? Let’s find out…

2010: Casey Kotchman double to center off Ben Sheets, Oakland Coliseum

Successful season? No

What do you know? The first franchise hit of the 2010s was an extra-base hit by a new Mariner. Sound like Randy Winn back in 2003? Along with leading the season off, Casey Kotchman was the Opening Day hero as well. His go-ahead hit in the ninth drove the team to a 1-0 record. A team that came in a postseason favorite looked promising.

Good, we finally found the veterans we needed. Players like Casey and Milton Bradley would help us get to October. No, far from it. Not only did this team have a terrible season, so did Casey. After spending his career as a solid supporting player, Casey finished with a .217 average. He underachieved expectations so much that Russell Branyan was re-acquired that summer for some pop. And of course, Casey hit over .300 his next season in Tampa.

2011: Ichiro singled to third off Trevor Cahill, Oakland Coliseum

Successful season? Yes

Ichiro again drew first blood for Mariners hitters on Opening Day. Ichiro did have a successful season numbers-wise. But 2011 Ichiro may need an asterisk because his numbers began to plummet under his standards. He failed to make the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. He also finished under 200 hits and a .300 average for the first time as well.

Ichiro was losing some of his youthful mojo as this was the last full season of his first stint. It became clear that Ichiro was less a guy who you built a team around and more someone who needed a better supporting cast. His season WAR showcased that as he, for the first time, finished with it under 1.0.

2012: Ichiro singled to pitcher off Brandon McCarthy, Tokyo Dome

Successful season? No

There was irony in Ichiro getting the first hit of 2012. But what a way to start the last season of your first stint. For the Mariners to go younger and for Yankees’ outfield help, Ichiro was traded that July. And how fitting that he made his Yankee debut at Safeco! While it was sad to see Ichiro go, he showed signs.

He was losing his clutch factor and his 2012 Mariner average was .261 through his 95 games. The fact that he was almost in the .250’s was very uncharacteristic Ichiro! It was a good long-term move to trade Ichiro. What felt weird was that he was the last holdover from the 116-win club. Ichiro’s 2012 was productive as a Yankee, yet not as much a Mariner. Glad you retired a Mariner though, Ich!

2013: Kyle Seager singled to pitcher off Brett Anderson, Oakland Coliseum

Successful season? Yes

Since the Mariners extended Seager, he has underachieved and looked lost at the plate. But 2013 was still honeymoon Kyle Seager. In just his third season, he was still getting used to the Majors and was one of the few clutch Mariners.

Relative to his last several seasons, fans would kill for the .260 average and over 20 homers he posted in 2013. And his clutchness was capped off by an insane two-out, game-tying slam in the 14th inning of a June contest! Lately, his tenure hasn’t improved with age. Hopefully, his early years weren’t a fluke and that we see his old self beginning in 2020.

2014: Abraham Almonte single to right off Jered Weaver, Angel Stadium

Successful season? No

In what would be a blowout Opening Day win for the Mariners, Abraham Almonte got the first hit of the season in the first at-bat. Almonte’s remaining tenure was pretty uneventful. That leadoff hit was a fluke as he was called down to the Minors after just 27 games and a below-Mendoza average with the club. He didn’t even finish out the year as a Mariner, being traded to the Padres on Deadline Day. Yankees, you had officially won the Shawn Kelley deal.

2015: Seth Smith double to center off Jered Weaver, Safeco Field 

Successful season? No

Seth Smith kicked off his team debut with a bang against the defending West champs. For a career utility player, Seth Smith did alright in his Mariner tenure. But just alright doesn’t cut it and Seth succumbed to the low-average pattern of new Mariners. For a team that has rarely landed high-performing veteran pickups, Seth Smith was no exception. He was a reliable utility, playing in 136 games. But a .248 average wasn’t what the team was looking for. Especially from a guy who hit .266 the prior year.

2016: Robinson Cano home run to right off Cole Hamels, Globe Life Park

Successful season? Yes

What a way to cap off this season! Robbie didn’t mess around with his stinging liner off the former World Series MVP. His team debut in 2014 was good and 2015 was not his best. But 2016 was probably his career Mariner year and for the first time, fans witnessed his power show.

Robbie finished with his most RBI’s since his final Yankee season and if you round up, he finished at over .300 and 40 homers! After acquiring Nelson Cruz the year prior, the pressure was clearly off Robbie to be the lone team slugger like in 2014.

2017: Jean Segura singled to center off Dallas Keuchel, Minute Maid Park

Successful season? Yes

Mean Jean hitting machine joined a few past Mariners to get the first hit in the first at-bat. Let’s run through a list here. Carlos Guillen. Rich Aurilia. Yuniesky Betancourt. Jack Wilson. Brendan Ryan. Chris Taylor. Ketel Marte. For the first time in a while, we found our shortstop who could hit .300.

Jean was an RBI man when you needed him and you could count on him to make contact. Even with an 0-2 count and two outs, that didn’t stop him from a memorable extra-inning walk-off against the Red Sox. He was the complete package regarding his defense. Remember his three wild, game-saving put-outs in the ninth against the Astros? Although his Mariner tenure was short, Jean was a five-tool player when here. Let’s have hope that J.P. Crawford will be a solid long-term successor.

2018: Robinson Cano single to right off Corey Kluber, Safeco Field 

Successful season? No

Regarding what could have been, this season was a heartbreaking one for fans. If Robbie’s over-.400 start seemed too good to be true, it’s because it was. After breaking a bone in May, his season was put on hold. But after testing positive for PED’s shortly after, his season was outright ruined. He missed half the season and because of his failed test, the Mariners’ 2018 was jeopardized and never the same as a result.

Both Robbie’s Yankee and Mariner tenures were left with big question marks. What was honest play and what wasn’t? Who knows whether or not the primary reason Dipoto shipped him back east was due to the suspension? But if so, it makes sense. Not the kind of memory we had in mind to end your tenure, Robbie.

2019: Jay Bruce single to short off Mike Fiers, Tokyo Dome 

Successful season? No

Jay Bruce was one of the many Mariners who helped form a historical season start to home runs. But that was all he did in his short tenure. It’s great that he hit 14 homers in his 47 games. But that will usually be overshadowed by the .212 average he posted. He struggled to connect well with the baseball. Once the team began their sluggish play, it was bye-bye, Jay Bruce. He was traded to the Phillies in June and was not missed overall.

dark. Next. First hit of Mariners seasons 2000-2009

Well, there you have it. Of the 10 Mariners to lead the season off, seven had sluggish seasons and didn’t act on their Opening Day success. That sounds like a negative correlation to me. As you read, a few of the players didn’t even end the year at the club. But as stated before, the teams this decade were worse than the ones last. With the exception of Ichiro, the success of most players were flukes and inconsistent.