The 2017 season is in the books for the Seattle Mariners. It did not end in a playoff berth. But there were some bright spots and some numbers to build on moving forward. All we can do is take what we learned this season and input it into making another playoff push in 2018.
Despite the disappointing season, some Mariners players deserve recognition. Here are our 2017 season individual awards.
Mariners 2017 MVP
Nelson Cruz has been a model of consistency since arriving in Seattle. His home run total has been within five during his three years in Seattle. He set a career high in RBI with 119 this season, which also led the American League. He was not a one-trick pony either. He batted .288 with a .924 OPS.
He posted a 4.1 WAR which was easily the highest on the team. He has been a 4-plus win player his entire Mainers career. He did not disappoint this season with 39 home runs and a 146 wRC+ which is 10th best in all of baseball. He also appeared in 155 games and was a reliable bat in the lineup every day.
Starting Pitcher of the Year
Paxton was putting together a Cy Young-type season after a fantastic April. In five starts that month, he went 3-0 with a stifling 1.39 ERA with 39 strikeouts and just six walks. He ended up needing to make two trips to the disabled list. He made 24 starts, essentially missing about eight to nine starts. He was clearly the finest starting pitcher of the season for Seattle. He finished with 12 wins, a 2.98 ERA with 156 strikeouts in 136 innings.
If Paxton can somehow put together a full season of this caliber, he will not only be Seattle’s ace but a perennial Cy Young contender. He posted a 3.9 WAR, which is more than two more wins better than any other pitcher on Seattle’s staff. He won July AL Pitcher of the Month for his astounding six wins and 1.37 ERA.
Relief Pitcher of the Year
Edwin Diaz certainly made a case this year, but his youth showed up a few times with stretches of shaky performances. Vincent was the most consistent of any of the relievers. He appeared in a career-high 69 games. He posted a 3.20 ERA and only surrendered three home runs in this era of the long ball.
He had a 1.5 WAR, which was the highest of any reliever and only second on the staff to the aforementioned Paxton. Early in the season, he had a stretch of 12 straight outings without allowing a run and then later in the year went 16 outings without a blemish. He was called upon time and time again and the 31-year-old kept answering.
Rookie of the Year
Haniger started out with what looked like an American League Rookie of the Year campaign. He hit .342 with a 1.054 OPS in April until his injury later that month. After returning from his injury, he struggled. He really struggled leading up to and directly after his facial injury later in the year. It took him until late August to get back on track. He ended up hitting .353 with seven homers in September.
Defensively, he was better than advertised. In right field he posted a +8 Defensive Runs Saved. He finished the season with 16 home runs and a .282 average. When he was healthy, he was toe-to-toe with any A.L. rookie not named Aaron Judge. 2018 could have big things in store for Haniger.
Most Improved Player
I am confident I speak for all Mariners fans when I say “finally.” Zunino has been the most exciting and frustrating player in the last three seasons in Seattle. He is clearly the catcher of the present and future of the Mariners. He ended up getting sent down during this season after hitting .172 in April with twice as many strikeouts as hits.
Fast forward to June. He swatted 10 home runs that month alone, with a .304 average. He dipped a bit again until September. He hit .338 with six homers in the past month. He finished the season with career-highs in average (.251) and homers (25). With his defensive prowess, a .251 average is perfectly respectable. If Zunino can have these numbers moving forward (perhaps with less of a dramatic roller coaster way to get there), I believe he will be the catcher of the next great Mariners team.
Dyson was certainly a pleasant surprise. Offensively, he set career highs in home runs (5) and hits (87). Defensively, he was one of the best in the league. He was among the leaders in outfield assists with 11. He posted a near-Gold Glove caliber +15 Defensive Runs Saved. He was clearly the best fielder on the Mariners. Seattle wanted to get more athletic on defense and Dyson fit the bill perfectly.
2017 ended up a disappointment again for the Mariners, but there is plenty to build on for 2018. We’ll see you in Peoria.