There’s been a lot of talk this week about Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma – who’s the ace of the Mariners’ staff? Who would you start in a one-game wild-card playoff?
Iwakuma’s had the better stats over the past two years, but King Felix is still King Felix, isn’t he? As for position players, though he’s not hitting home runs, Robinson Cano is the easy No. 1 choice.
How would you rank the Mariners on the 25-man roster? Here’s my list:
1) Felix Hernandez. He’s still the best player on the team, as he has been for some time now. Felix has a 5-1 record with a 2.94 ERA and a realistic shot at winning 20 games for the first time in his career.
2) Hisashi Iwakuma. He’s off to a sensational start at 3-0 with 1.76 ERA. Just two walks in 30 2/3 innings. Slight edge over the next player on the list.
3) Robinson Cano. Third in the league with his .322 average, Cano also leads the team with 28 RBIs and is a Gold Glover at second base.
4) Michael Saunders. I can hear what you’re saying: “Michael Saunders, the fourth-best player on this team?” OK, who’s yours? The top three are easy, but after that, not so much. And we’re talking right now, at this very minute, and Saunders was red-hot on the road trip and came through with the game-winning, two-run infield single in last night’s 3-1 win over Houston.
5) Kyle Seager. I know he’s hitting just .234, but he’s tied for the team lead with six home runs and is third in RBIs with 25. I’m in no hurry to see anyone but Seager at third base.
6) James Jones. He’s the Mariners’ best leadoff hitter since, uh, I don’t know because it’s been so long since they had one you could call legitimate. Why did manager Lloyd McClendon pinch-hit for Jones in the seventh inning last night? Curious decision with Jones on a 12-game hitting streak.
7) Fernando Rodney. I wouldn’t blame you if you ranked him lower than No. 7, but he’s fun to watch and ultimately effective, too, saving 12 of 14 games.
8) Dominic Leone. He was terrific last night and he’s been terrific all season, leading the staff with 1.41 ERA in 19 2/3 innings. Surprising effort thus far. Leone adds to a pretty solid bullpen.
9) Mike Zunino. The Mariners have their catcher of the present and the future. I love the way he calls games and blocks balls in the dirt. He’s on a pace for more than 20 homers.
10) Danny Farquhar. One bad outing raised his ERA, but he’s still a bulldog out there and good enough to make my top 10 on a .500 team.
11) Justin Smoak. His average is down to .226 after an 0-for-4 last night, but he has 27 RBIs, many with two outs. He’s shown some positive signs but still lacks consistency.
12) Dustin Ackley. He’s batting .259 and has been mostly decent on a so-so team. I’m still not an Ackley believer, but he’s better than he used to be and doing all right as a left fielder.
13) Tom Wilhelmsen. The Bartender has a 13-inning scoreless streak going, but if he’s selling stock, I’m not buying it. He’s not the reliever he once was but he gets credit for rallying from last year’s implosion as the closer.
14) Roenis Elias. One of the more amazing stories of the season, this lefty has been shockingly good for the most part. Where would the rotation have been without him?
15) Chris Young. When I heard he was a fly-ball pitcher, I expected a lot of fly balls to leave the yard, but he’s been an important part of the rotation, too. After James Paxton returns, I’d take Young as a fifth starter.
16) Yoervis Medina. He had a fantastic outing last night, striking out the side in the eighth inning. Medina is a mostly reliable right-hander in McClendon’s bullpen.
17) Stefen Romero. He hit into two double plays as a pinch-hitter on the road trip but had two hits last night and is in his first year at the major-league level.
18) Joe Beimel. The scraggly-looking guy has fairly good numbers, is fifth on the team with a 2.57 ERA and has done his job retiring left-handed batters when called upon.
19) Willie Bloomquist. The utility infielder has gotten fewer opportunities than I thought he would so far, but he still strikes me as a guy who won’t hurt you when he’s playing.
20) Nick Franklin. I don’t know what to make of Franklin. He looked terrible with three strikeouts last night and is hitting .154 as a Mariner. Where’s the guy who led the PCL in hitting?
21) Brandon Maurer. He threw a 14-hitter two weeks ago and still looks like he’s trying to find himself. Maybe he will tomorrow night when he gets another start. If he doesn’t, he’ll find himself in Tacoma when Paxton returns.
22) Charlie Furbush. It’s surprising to see an 0-3 record and 5.84 ERA next to his name because he looks like he has better stuff than that.
23) John Buck. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to expect from a backup catcher, but he’s been OK at best.
24) Cole Gillespie. If he’s going to be on the roster, play him, Lloyd! If not, send him back to Tacoma.
25) Brad Miller. After tearing up the Cactus League, he’s been a disaster so far. But McClendon sees something in him and is sticking with him maybe because his options are limited.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for Seattlepi.com and KitsapSun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.