Today’s Fun Fact
The Mariners are 3-0 and have the best record in the American League. Go crazy!
That is the most-fun fact for now, and it’s a fact I’ve printed out and rubbed all over my body, but it’s actually not the fact I had in mind for this little post. Allow me to do something kind of arbitrary. The Mariners have the best second baseman in baseball. As Dave suggested the other day, they might have the best shortstop in the American League as long as Jose Reyes is hurt. Kyle Seager isn’t great, but he’s perfectly fine. If you combine second, short, and third, the Mariners are projected for the second-best combination in the majors, between the Rays and the Rockies. I know it’s silly — it’s not even just like saying “left side of the infield” — but, within the infield, you can find one of the Mariners’ team strengths.
And something I was thinking about the other day: Robinson Cano was never a Baseball America top-100 prospect. Brad Miller was never a Baseball America top-100 prospect. Kyle Seager was never a Baseball America top-100 prospect. They were never nothing, but coming up, they were simply interesting pieces. They’ve all blossomed into quality regulars, and critical pieces that might drive the Mariners toward contention.
And it’s funny to think about after the disappointment of the last few years. The Mariners were let down over and over by Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero, who’d all been among the best prospects on the lists. Smoak ranked 13th and 23rd. Ackley ranked 11th and 12th. Montero ranked 6th, 3rd, 4th, and 38th. Of course, the Mariners could still use success from Ackley and Smoak, right now and going forward, but they no longer need it. The lineup doesn’t depend on those guys.
Credit for Miller and Seager has to go to player development, as well as to the players themselves. With Cano, it’s not like he’s a Mariners product, and they just got him after he was already great, but it’s still of interest to me that one of the absolute best players in baseball didn’t look like a future superstar while climbing through his system. You’ll find a lot of WAR coming from those prospect lists. You’ll also find a lot of WAR coming from somewhere else, and the Mariners infield stands as a demonstration. The two worst starters right now out of the five have been the two most highly-touted prospects.
Felix Hernandez? He topped out at 2nd. Taijuan Walker? He’s topped out at 11th. James Paxton, 52nd. Erasmo Ramirez, unranked. Doesn’t mean Ramirez is worthless. Means Ramirez was overlooked, literally and figuratively, and means Ramirez has done well to get the most out of his skillset. And he’s still developing, and his big-league numbers are terrific for a 23-year-old.
There’s no bigger point, here. This edition of Today’s Fun Fact probably could’ve been condensed into a single tweet. But the Mariners’ players have some interesting histories, and if that doesn’t interest you, the Mariners are also 3-0 and they have the best record in the American League. Go crazy!