What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2013 title for all 30 teams.
While a World Championship for the Mariners seemed like a tall order coming into the 2013 season, Jack Zdurencik's squad managed to achieve the impossible and not only win the franchise's first pennant, but win their first World Series. Coming into the year, everyone thought that Seattle would struggle on offense this season. Well, they weren't a group of world-beaters, but the Mariners lineup was in the middle of the pack in the American League, a huge improvement over past years.
New left fielder Michael Morse thrived in his return to Seattle, smashing 35 homers and logging 600 plate appearances for the first time in his career. First baseman Justin Smoak finally broke through at the major league level after a solid finish to his 2012, finishing his year with 26 homers and an .813 OPS. Catcher Jesus Montero contributed 18 homers and a .761 OPS to the team, losing his starting catching job at midseason to rookie Mike Zunino, who hit .323 with nine homers in three months in the majors. In the second half, Montero split time at DH with veteran Kendrys Morales, who homered 12 times in limited playing time.
Seattle's infield defense was one of the top units in baseball, highlighted by their middle infield of Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan. Ackley's offense also ticked up a notch from a disappointing 2012, while third baseman Kyle Seager was the team's overall MVP as he put together a five win season.
But when it came down to it, the Mariners won because of their pitching. Felix Hernandez won his second Cy Young award and put together another typical Felix season: 236 innings, 241 strikeouts, and a 2.59 ERA. The signing of Joe Saunders in February was lambasted here on TOC, but Saunders posted a career best 3.29 ERA in 206 innings. Hisashi Iwakuma built on his solid 2012 and was one of the more underappreciated pitchers in the league, and young Erasmo Ramirez was incredibly impressive, bringing back memories of Hernandez at age 23. The bullpen, led by flamethrowers Tom Wilhemsen, Stephen Pryor, Carter Capps, and Charlie Furbush, was untouchable.
In the AL West, it was a two team race from the getgo with Seattle and the Angels. The difference ended up being starting pitching, as Seattle's quartet outperformed the Angels' duo of Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson, while the rest of the Los Angeles staff (including former Mariner Jason Vargas) struggled. The deathblow in the Angels season came on the second to last weekend of the season, when closer Ryan Madson allowed a three-run homer in the ninth to former Angel Morales, putting Seattle ahead 5-3 and giving them a four game lead with six games to play in the division after Wilhelmsen closed it out.
In the playoffs, the Mariners hosted the Tigers in the ALDS, and Hernandez outdueled Justin Verlander twice in Seattle's three games to one series victory. Seattle was matched up with the Rays in the ALCS, and pummeled Tampa Bay into submission, sweeping the team in four games behind the offense of Morse, Smoak, and Zunino. Finally in the World Series, Seattle squared off with the Washington Nationals, and Morse ravaged his former team en route to a six game victory and a World Championship for the Mariners.
Mariners on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Hope for the Hopeless
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM)
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)