HOT TAKE: THE SEATTLE MARINERS ARE THE CADY HERON OF BASEBALL
Just like Cady Heron in Mean Girls, the Seattle Mariners, unbeknownst as an elite team, will make their presence known this upcoming MLB season.
To many the Seattle Mariners may not look like a top contender, but the team is in for a big year. After finishing the 2016 MLB season with a record of 86–76 — second in the AL West behind the Texas Rangers — the Mariners are not only set to improve their 2016 record, but also win the AL West and appear in their first playoff game since 2001.
Like in the 2004 comedy Mean Girls when Cady Heron sedulously plans her takedown of the Plastics to embarrass Regina George and become queen bee, the Seattle Mariners have made several key acquisitions this offseason needed to become a dominant team. One of the most notable newcomers is former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Drew Smyly. Though he is coming off of his worst season in his career with an ERA of 4.88, Smyly, at 27 years old, is prime for a bounce back year. Furthermore, Smyly is not the only pitcher set to have a comeback. Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, after suffering an injury last season, has the potential to reclaim his status as one of the most feared starters in baseball.
Also, just as Cady Heron needs a convincing personality to gain influence among the Plastics the Seattle Mariners’ explosive lineup possess the skill and swagger necessary to climb up the ranks of the MLB and achieve fan-wide acclaim. In 2016, the offense finished with an impressive 768 runs (3rd in the AL), a .259 batting average (7th in the AL), 223 homeruns (2nd in the AL), and a slugging percentage at .430 (5th in the AL). Newly-acquired shortstop Jean Segura is set for another career year after posting a .319 batting average last season. Both designated-hitter Nelson Cruz and second baseman Robinson Cano have consistently averaged over thirty homeruns each of the past three seasons (Cruz has averaged over forty the past three seasons), so it should be no surprise if they both have monster seasons this year. Other sources of power include third baseman Kyle Seager (who finished 2016 with career highs in batting average, homeruns, RBIs, and runs) and twenty-five year old catcher Mike Zunino.
Moreover, reminiscent of when Cady Heron achieves queen bee status by turning Gretchen and Karen against Regina, the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen is the icing on the cake for their forthcoming dominance. Led by closing pitcher Edwin Diaz, the Seattle ‘pen has a prodigious amount of talent. Diaz, at 22 years old, finished his rookie year last season with a 2.79 ERA and earned eighteen saves out of twenty-one save opportunities. Veteran relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Steve Cishek add consistency and fire to the bullpen as both ended 2016 with ERAs under three and the latter of the two had an opponents batting average of .190. Additionally, a player to watch for this upcoming season is the 24-year-old righty Dan Altavilla. With just fifteen games in his MLB career, Altavilla posted an astounding 0.73 ERA. With the Double A Jackson Generals in 2016, Altavilla recorded an ERA of 1.04 in the thirty-four games prior to his major league debut. In 2017, he just might be that dark horse that the Mariners need in order to pull off an unsuspecting and spectacular season.
If Cady Heron can come out of oblivion and become the most popular girl in school, why can’t the Seattle Mariners catch the entire league off guard and have their best season in over a decade? Cady surprises herself, her parents, and her school when she climbs the social ranks of North Shore High School. So would it really be ridiculous to say that it is possible for Seattle to suddenly climb the ranks of the MLB standings? Obviously though, the Mariners cannot let their future ascendency become a cover for backstabbing, cockiness, and injury. Unlike Cady, the team must remain humble with their impending glory. Now — some may call this take fatuous or maybe even…hmm, I don’t know… fetch? But regardless, with new faces, a star-studded lineup, a solid bullpen, and a competitive rotation the Seattle Mariners have the opportunity to challenge the MLB’s power-house establishment and entrench themselves as one of baseball’s most elite teams.