COMMENTARY | With a 34-45 record, the Seattle Mariners are again well out of contention in the AL West. A chance at .500, let alone the division crown, is quickly slipping away.
While it would be easy for a frustrated fan base to throw in the towel, here are 10 reasons to keep believing in the 2013 Mariners:
The 1-2 punch: At the top of the rotation, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have been as good as any duo in the major leagues. They are a combined 15-7, with Iwakuma having the seventh-best ERA in the majors and Hernandez having the sixth most strikeouts.
Nick Franklin looks like he belongs: With the series of prospects who have struggled in Seattle, it's exciting to see one finally have some success. It's only 27 games into his career, but so far Franklin has shown a lot of promise, with 4 home runs and a .834 OPS.
The reemergence of Oliver Perez: After a rough tenure with the New York Mets, Perez came over to Seattle halfway through the 2012 season and has transformed his career as a member of the Mariners' bullpen. Perez has both been dominant and incredibly exciting to watch, with an ERA of 0.98 and 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
Young pitchers are on the way: Watching young players is always exciting, and Seattle could have a few on the mound that will improve the team before 2013 is over. Erasmo Ramirez has been great in AAA since returning from injury and should replace the ineffective Aaron Harang soon, while Danny Hultzen may make his MLB debut come late in the season
Jeremy Bonderman may be an unexpected success: Five starts is an awfully small sample size, but Bonderman has been good since returning to the big leagues for the first time since 2010. After getting shelled in his first start June 2 against the Minnesota Twins, Bonderman has given up a total of four runs in 25.1 innings pitched.
Raul Ibanez is having a historic season: In his third stint with the Mariners, the 41-year-old Ibanez has surprised everyone by being a valuable everyday piece to the Mariners' lineup. His 18 home runs are sixth most by a 41-year-old, only 11 behind Ted Williams for the record.
Kyle Seager keeps on hitting: Seager wasn't a can't-miss prospect when he made his debut in 2011, but he has been consistently productive at the plate ever since. This is Seager's best season yet, as he is tied for eighth in the majors with 22 doubles to go along with a .277 average.
The infield defense: His hitting aside, Brendan Ryan provides the most dazzling defense at shortstop in the majors on a nightly basis and saves the Mariners' pitching staff a large number of runs. He makes a formidable tandem in the middle of the infield with Franklin, who has played very well at second base since his call up.
Justin Smoak is showing signs of life: His stats may be underwhelming, but Smoak has shown some improvement since coming off the disabled list June 18. A .244 average and .721 OPS obviously isn't great, but it's better than Smoak has been in the past, and even a decent, healthy first basemen could help the Mariners' lineup.
Henry Blanco's grand slam: In his debut with the Mariners on June 15 against the Oakland Athletics, the 41-year-old Blanco delivered a grand slam to give Seattle a 4-0 win. The game itself will likely be irrelevant, but it's a moment like this that shows that anything can happen and prove that it's worth it to keep watching.
Nathaniel Reeves is a lifelong Seattle sports follower who is studying journalism at the University of Washington. He currently covers sports for The UW Daily.
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- Seattle Mariners
- Nick Franklin
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