Team MVP: Ichiro Suzuki-.374, 8hr, 59rbi, 35sb, 98r
As tough as it is to see a most valuable player on a team that could finish the season with 100 losses, Ichiro Suzuki was the best player all year- both offensively and defensively.
Poised the break an 84-year-old record for hits in a season, Ichiro will also set a new team record for batting average, currently held by Alex Rodriguez who hit .358 in 1996.
Ichiro will again score 100 runs and is second in the league in steals with 35. Scoring 100 runs in this lineup is pretty impressive.
A fourth Gold Glove should find a way into Ichiro’s trophy case, as will a second batting title in four years.
Most Valuable Pitcher: Ron Villone- 7-5, 4.10era, 109.2ip
As much as I hate to agree with the consensus, as well as Bob Melvin, Villone really was the most valuable arm. In a season that saw the 34-year-old go from the bullpen to the rotation to the bullpen and back to the rotation again, Villone pitched admirably in each role.
The left-hander leads the team in wins with seven, and has solidified a respectable bullpen since returning to his original relief role.
Rookie of the Year: Bobby Madritsch- 5-3, 3.53era, 46K
Madritsch surprised many by winning five of his first six decisions and excelling from the get-go in the rotation. The most impressive note on the 28-year-old is that he went seven or eight innings in six of his first seven starts, and didn’t have a bad outing until start No. 10.
The former independent league standout should have every chance to break spring training with a starting spot next April.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ichiro Suzuki
Best defensive right fielder in recent memory combines a center fielder’s range with the arm of a natural right fielder. Nobody with a brain cell runs on Ichiro anymore, and the 30-year-old never makes a mistake.
Least Valuable Players: Scott Spiezio (.215, 10hr, 40rbi) and Shigetoshi Hasegawa (4-5, 5.05era)
Many, many to choose from in this category but these two stand out most. The strength of the team was supposed to be the relief corps and Hasegawa’s reliability was his best and most valuable attribute. Instead of serving as the team’s top set up man with the absence of Rafael Soriano, Hasegawa responds with the worst year of his career.
All Spiezio had to do was stay the course and hit for his career average in every aspect. That proved to be something the former Anaheim Angel could not do, and he couldn’t even come close. Hovering in the low .200’s all season, Spiezio may have been hurt by the grind of playing the hot corner for the first half of the season, a position he is capable of playing on a limited basis.
Had Shiggy and the lead singer of SandFrog played close to their abilities, the M’s might have had a fighting chance at .500 early this year.
Best Streak of the Season: Raul Ibanez’s Nine Straight Hits
It would have been too easy to use an Ichiro hit-streak here, and Ibanez’s new team record is mighty impressive.
Raul’s feat started with a 6-for-6 performance versus Anaheim, the first Mariner to ever do so, and continued the next game versus Texas when the outfielder went 3-for-3.
Worst Streak of the Season: Only Seven of 69 Hits for Extra Bases
Aiming more for a team oriented streak rather than negative individual patterns, I left the starting pitching alone here.
In a stretch of eight games in September, the M’s collected 69 hits. The problem is, only seven went for extra bases and just two left the yard. The biggest culprit is Ichiro, though it’s hard to blame your lead off hitter for not hitting doubles and home runs. Of his first 250 hits, only 36 went for extra-bases; 23 doubles, five triples, and eight home runs.
More Mariner Firsts:
Greg Dobbs became the first ever Mariner to homer in his first at-bat in the big leagues
For the first time in their history, the M’s used 14 rookies in a single season
Ichiro became the first Mariner to; hit .350 or better twice, collect five hits in a game more than once (4), collect 200 hits in four straight seasons, garner twice as many multi-hit games (79) than extra-base hits (36)-Through Sept. 25. Ichiro set team and league records for 50-hit months in a season (3)
More Ichiro: (Through Sept. 25)
Ichiro set team records for hits in a season (250), multi-hit games (79), five-hit games (4), games with four or more hits (9), games with three or more hits (31), single-season batting average (.374), consecutive seasons with 200 hits (4), and joined Edgar Martinez (1992, 1995) as the only Mariners to win two batting titles (2001, 2004).