When it was initially announced that the Seattle Mariners would only be sending two representatives to the All-Star Game, it felt like a mild disappointment. Any other year having two players selected would have felt like some kind of achievement, but for this team, the best Mariners squad in a decade, to only be represented by two so-said “all-stars” was a bit of a jab. Kyle Seager‘s eventual inclusion helped, but until recently there was another name missing from the AL roster that seemed like it belonged.
Fernando Rodney had all the makings of an All-Star: big name, winning team, dominant closer with the most saves in the league… yet there he sat, not in line to attend the Midsummer Classic. It would have been understandable, given the leaguewide depth at his position, but a bit snubbish given his extraordinary first half. Snub no more – Rodney has been named an American League All-Star, just in the nick of time.
For fun, let’s look again at Rodney’s 2014 thus far. The big number with him is 27, which is how many saves he’s recorded. Greg Holland is second in the AL, with 24, and a save tonight would put Rodney in a tie with Trevor Rosenthal and Craig Kimbrel for most in the major leagues. Saves are a pretty goofy stat and by no means should be used to evaluate how good a pitcher is at, you know, pitching. But they’re important to a lot of people, including Fernando Rodney. And Rodney nearly has the most saves in baseball.
At 1.1 WAR, Rodney has been the 15th-most valuable relief pitcher in the game. He paces all Mariners pitchers except Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in this stat, which is a neat trick for a reliever to do. In a deep, young bullpen, it’s been Rodney leading the way at all times. Going into the year it wasn’t certain that Rodney was any better than Danny Farquhar. Now Farquhar’s enjoying a stellar season in a set-up role and Rodney’s thriving in the ninth. Everyone wins.
Rodney’s a guy with a history of control problems. His walk rate has always lived in the fours, but this year he’s succeeding by running a BB/9 of 2.97, which is the league average. He’s coupled that with a well above-average 10.4 K/9. Oh, and he’s not really allowing any home runs, either. That’s an elite combination, and the main reason he’s going to Minnesota next week.
Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and now Fernando Rodney. Not a bad look for a team that was predicted by most to finish somewhere around 81-81. With four All-Stars and 51 (and counting!) wins at the break, it feels like it’s finally safe to take the over on the 2014 Seattle Mariners.