Former Mariners: Felix Hernandez has his eyes on the HOF

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners tips his cap to fans as he is taken out of the game. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners tips his cap to fans as he is taken out of the game. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez points to the crowd.
SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners acknowledges cheering fans. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /

I almost tear up every time I look through the photos of Felix Hernandez’s exit from his final game pitching for the Mariners. But, the reality is, he still has unfinished business.

Felix recently signed with the Baltimore Orioles on a minor league deal that could be worth $1 million. He was recently asked why he wanted to pitch for the Orioles in 2021, and this was his answer:

Did that not give you goosebumps? It surely gave me some.

Just hearing about Felix Hernandez’s grit and passion makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, even though he is not a Mariners player right now.

What else did Felix Hernandez say?

According to The Baltimore Sun, Felix told reporters that he feels really good and he’s ready to go. As you might know, Felix opted out of the 2020 season and he thinks the summer break (which he usually doesn’t get) made him feel better.

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Although, he acknowledged that “I need to see hitters, but I feel very confident with where I am now.” He also added that “the success I had in spring training last year is because of how I prepared myself in the offseason. Now, I’m really, really prepared too. I can’t wait for the games to start.”

The King also knows the situation. Nothing is guaranteed right now and he has to earn his spot in what is a spotty starting rotation. There is a clear opportunity for him to slot right in.

I also imagine the Orioles brought him in to be a veteran presence in spring training, and potentially the clubhouse. Felix is one of a kind, and would be a great mentor for the young Orioles staff which could have a couple of prospects leading the way this season.

How close is Felix Hernandez to the Hall of Fame?

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I’ll tell you what, the King doesn’t lack confidence. He told reporters that “I have the numbers… I’ve got the innings, I’ve got strikeouts. But my goal is to get to 3,000 and 200 wins.”

But, I think his confidence is for good reason. For example, Felix is currently 37th on the all-time strikeout list, right behind Clayton Kershaw. But, his other numbers aren’t the greatest to be honest.

I think it helps the most to compare his numbers to current members of the Hall of Fame.

First, let’s review Randy Johnson’s numbers. He has a career 101.1 WAR, 3.29 ERA, 4,875 strikeouts, five Cy Young Awards, 10-time All-Star, 2001 World Series champion, World Series MVP, and four ERA titles. And as you might guess, Felix isn’t very close.

Felix Hernandez owns a career 50.1 WAR, and 2,524 strikeouts. He has one Cy Young Award, six All-Star appearances, and two ERA titles. Although, his ERA isn’t too far off from Randy’s career era. The King has a 3.42 career ERA as of now.

Another thing to keep in mind, Randy pitched until he was 45-years-old. So, of course, his WAR and strikeouts will add up quite more than most MLB pitchers.

Mike Mussina might be a better comparison for this situation. Mussina barely made the Hall of Fame with 76.7% of votes.

The longtime Orioles and Yankees pitcher has a career 82.8 WAR, 3.68 ERA, 2,813 strikeouts, five All-Star appearances, and seven Gold Glove Awards. He never won a  Cy Young Award.

So, if you compare Felix to Mussina, his numbers definitely seem reasonable enough to be in the HOF. But, it would certainly help his case if The King can have a couple more good seasons to lower his ERA, accumulate some more strikeouts, and increase that WAR.

I think Felix Hernandez can do it, or at least I will be cheering him on. Is an Orioles Felix Hernandez jersey a future purchase? Maybe…

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