SonicHawk wrote:FINAL RECORD:
AL WEST PLACE:
PLAYER WITH HIGHEST BATTING AVERAGE:
MOST WINS BY STARTER:
I have a hard time with this. It's difficult to measure my eternal pessimism and a sense that the Mariners are 'destined' to fail vs a more realistic appraisal of their roster. By all rights, if any of the Mariners' player development had gone as it 'should,' this team would probably have been a .500 ballclub or better by now. That said, the Mariners have a routine problem with turning prospects into successful Major Leaguers. I used to think that was purely bad luck, but I am starting to wonder what it says about the organization's approach to player development. I don't know the answer to that.
That being said, I think a lot of the optimism that this team can be a winning ballclub centers around the premise that young players will improve. While there is all sorts of reason to hope for that, I simply haven't seen that be the case for players in the Mariners' system, and that makes me cautious. Even pessimistic. I simply cannot, and will not get my hopes up that Ackley and Smoak can be useful full-time players until I see it with my own two eyes at this point.
THAT BEING SAID.
Cano is awesome. Genuine superstar middle infielders are a rarity, and plugging him into the lineup automatically improves this team dramatically (assuming he doesn't suffer from the same Mariners blues [HA!] that everyone else seems to). Replacing Brendan Ryan with Brad Miller, assuming Miller continues to be even a league-average bat, is also a huge improvement. Ryan's glove was incredible, but not enough so to justify his bat. Taking Ibanez and Morse out of the team and out of the outfield is also a huge boon to our outfield defense, which will likely still be bad, but can only improve from last year, which similarly should help our rotation. I don't think we're going to see anything remarkable out of Saunders, Almonte, Ackley or Morrison, but I suspect they will have a more positive overall contribution to our team than last year's OF group did.
At the corners, I feel less certain. I'm not sure which Kyle Seager is the real one - the one that tore it up the first half of last year, or the .260/.320/.420 bat his career says he is? I know that's not the whole story, and he's still young, and certainly could improve, but I think a lot of how we feel about our offense will depend upon whether Kyle improves. Similarly, will the Justin Smoak that started to come on a bit towards the end of the year, and that made him a top prospect to begin with, re-emerge? Hard to say.
Zunino is essentially still a rookie after missing a lot of last year, so I'm not expecting him to do much other than continue to work hard and improve.
On the other hand, our rotation is in shambles. I would argue that, at least for the first month of the year, it is shakier than last year. That said, our bullpen is likely stronger.
So who knows? I have a hard time figuring out where all that settles in terms of records. If I had to guess, I would say the team will wind up clawing to around 80 wins. I could imagine a scenario where all of the young talent grows and blossoms and this becomes a winning team with a fringe shot at contention, but I think that's a little pie-in-the-sky.
I would say:
FINAL RECORD: 79-83
AL WEST PLACE: 3rd
PLAYER WITH HIGHEST AVERAGE: Cano
BREAKOUT STAR: Miller
MOST WINS BY A STARTER: 14 (I think the OP is asking for the number, not the player?)
HR LEADER: Cano