Ready to be surprised?
Felix Hernandez was honored with an award Friday for being the Mariners’ best pitcher. And, equally shocking, All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano was honored as the team’s best position player.
OK, so you probably already knew that. But it was made official Friday as the Seattle chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, represented by Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone, bequeathed Hernandez with the Mariners’ 2014 award for pitcher of the year, Cano with the award for player of the year, and right-hander Chris Young with the Unsung Hero award.
Hernandez and Cano were perennial All-Stars prior to the season. Young was a revelation. The 35-year-old posted a 12-9 record with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts this season, helping the Mariners withstand early injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.
Young’s wins total matches a career best, and his ERA was the third-lowest of his career. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon called Young a “godsend” earlier this season, and said recently that “I’m not sure we would be in the position we’re in now” if not for Young’s renaissance.
After signing a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners last offseason, Cano has led the team in batting nearly all season and currently holds a .318 batting average with 14 home runs and 82 RBIs.
Hernandez, who is scheduled to start Seattle’s regular-season finale against the Angels on Sunday, has been typically outstanding all season and is again a contender for the American League Cy Young award. He is 14-6 this season with a 2.34 ERA, and his 241 strikeouts and 0.936 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) ratio are career-bests.
The 28-year old Venezuelan also set a major league record earlier this season by stringing together 16 consecutive starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and allowed two runs or fewer.
But even The King stumbles. Hernandez’s past start, a dud in which he lasted only 42/3 innings and allowed eight runs against Toronto, did nothing to improve the Mariners’ playoff chances and might have cost Hernandez ground in the Cy Young race. But McClendon has no concerns about how he might bounce back for his final start of the season, presuming no changes are made to the rotation between now and then.
“Felix is fine,” McClendon said. “He’s a champion. He’s very disappointed in his outing. He’ll be ready Sunday.”
Third baseman Kyle Seager won the Major League Baseball Players’ Alumni Heart and Hustle award, which is given annually to one player on each team.
The Mariners also handed out their minor league awards, naming third baseman D.J. Peterson and outfielder/first baseman Jordy Lara the co-players of the year.
Peterson, who in June was promoted from Class-A High Desert to Double-A Jackson, batted a combined .297 with 31 home runs, 31 doubles and 111 RBIs in 123 games. Lara also spent time with both High Desert and Jackson, and batted .337 with 26 homers, 40 doubles and 104 RBIs in 135 games.
Two players shared the Mariners’ minor league pitcher of the year honors: Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma right-hander Jordan Pries (10-8, 3.86 ERA) and Class-A Clinton right-hander Edwin Diaz (6-8, 3.33).
Patrick Kivlehan, an outfielder and corner infielder who was a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, was given the Unsung Hero award after batting .295 with 20 homers and 103 RBIs in 138 games between High Desert and Jackson.
Ketel Marte, a shortstop prospect from the Dominican Republic, batted .304 this season in 128 games between Jackson and Tacoma, and was named the Heart and Soul award winner.
And, lastly, the award for relief pitcher of the year went to right-hander Matt Brazis, a 28th-round pick out of Boston College in 2012 who posted a 4-1 record with a 2.36 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 721/3 innings pitched between High Desert and Jackson.
ACKLEY’S FOOT ‘OK’
Left fielder Dustin Ackley missed four games due to a sore foot earlier this month, but McClendon said Ackley made it through the team’s recent road trip well enough.
“He did OK in Toronto,” McClendon said. “I think it affected him somewhat.”
Seattle continues its three-game series against the Angels with a 6:10 p.m. game Saturday. Left-hander James Paxton (6-4, 3.03 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against left-hander C.J. Wilson (13-10, 4.61).
The game will be broadcast Root Sports.
Right-handed ace Felix Hernandez (14-6, 2.34) will close out the regular season for the Mariners on Sunday. The Angels’ starting pitcher has yet to be announced.