Team Ace: Felix Hernandez
Most Valuable Position Player: Kyle Seager
Breakout Candidate: Hisashi Iwakuma
Notable Offseason Additions: Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, Joe Saunders, Jason Bay
Notable Offseason Losses: Jason Vargas
Biggest Team Weakness: Infield
The Mariners are the first team on my list with a superstar ace, which is why I rated them so high. When you have stability at the top end of the rotation the other pieces start falling into place. Felix Hernandez is one of the top 5 pitchers in the league, and at times plays like the best. Hisashi Iwakuma posted a 3.16 ERA in his rookie season as a starter and relief pitcher, which solidified his spot in the rotation. Joe Sanders should be able to replace Jason Vargas, who they traded away in the offseason.
The Mariners’ bats also showed more promise in 2012 than they have in past years. Kyle Seager is officially a weapon for the team at third base. Both Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero displayed spurts of offensive throughout the season, and will be trying to put it together consistently this year. The main improvement is the additions of Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse, who were acquired for cheap after they each had down years. But both were also coming off major injuries, and one year removed you can expect them to produce like they have before 2012.
The biggest help for this team however, will be their division. The Rangers are significantly weaker this year, and although The Angels have improved the Mariners can’t possible lose any more games than they did to the club last season. Plus, with Houston on the schedule 18 times this year, that should be at least 14 extra wins to their record.