[caption id="attachment_14000" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Felix Hernandez"][/caption]
2010 salary: $6.5 million
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2010 stats: 13-12 with a league-leading 2.27 ERA in 249 innings over 34 starts
Won a Cy Young Award with a dominant season in which he did everything but win games. “He always had that late-breaking curve and mid-’90s fastball,” former Mariners pitching coach Stan Williams said. “I never knew how anybody ever hit him, and last year not many guys did.” Despite the lowest run support (3.07) in the American League, Hernandez kept the Mariners in every game he started. “He always had the physical tools,” said Williams, who scouted last season with the Nationals. “Now the mental side of his game has caught up.”
There were a few, but rarely were they Felix’s fault. In his 12 losses, Seattle scored just seven runs with him in the game, and he threw a complete-game two-hitter against Toronto in September - and lost, 1-0. “The more we tried to score for him, the fewer runs we gave him,” Adam Moore said. “It was unbelievable how well he pitched in every game he pitched.”
Summing up Hernandez’s 2010
Felix made 15 starts in which he allowed one run or less and pitched at least seven innings - the most by any American League pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2000. In nine no-decision games he worked, his ERA was 1.92. Went 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA against the Yankees. Over his last 10 starts of the year, Felix went 6-3 with a 0.96 ERA.
Looking to 2011
“There may be as many good young arms in the game today as there have ever been, so I don’t know how you’d pick the best,” Williams said. “Felix is in that argument, though. His command has improved, and he doesn’t just throw strikes, any more. He pinpoints his pitches and just overpowers hitters.” In his past two seasons, Hernandez is 32-17 with a 2.38 ERA and has pitched 488 innings. Unless the innings cause a problem, it’s hard to see him not being among the AL’s best pitchers once again.