From Ichiro to Felix to LEGOs: A look at two decades of Mariners season previews

From Ichiro to Felix to LEGOs: A look at two decades of Mariners season previews

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Twenty years ago, the Mariners were one of baseball’s elite teams. Remember that?

They won 91 games in 2000 under manager Lou Piniella with an All-Star lineup including Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Jay Buhner, Bret Boone, Mike Cameron, John Olerud, Dan Wilson, and Mark McLemore.

But whenever the 2020 season rolls around, it’s doubtful you will be so capable of naming the starting crew. The rebuild continues.

Just for fun, here’s a look back at two decades of Mariners season previews in The Seattle Times (we picked some highlights and lowlights). It’s been a ride.

2001 Mariners (116-46)

Ichiro debuts in an unforgettable season. Seattle still holds the major-league record (tied with the 1906 Cubs) of 116 regular-season wins. Ichiro won the AL MVP award and Rookie of the Year award, batting .350 with 56 stolen bases.

2002 Mariners (93-69)

Ichiro and Bret Boone on the cover, full of smiles. Boone ended up hitting 24 homers, down from 37 in 2001. Ichiro hit .321. Unfortunately, 93 wins were enough for only third place in the AL West, and Seattle began its still-active playoff drought.

2004 Mariners (63-99)

Seattle won 93 games in 2003, again failing to make the playoffs despite a solid team. So going into 2004, the Mariners hoped their starting pitching was a strength (it wasn’t). Seriously, some guy named Bobby Madritsch started 11 games.

2007 Mariners (88-74)

The good ship Mariner was starting to acclimate to rough seas. Attendance was still 2.6 million, but this year was so bizarre manager that Mike Hargrove quit midseason. Felix Hernandez won 14 games and J.J. Putz had 40 saves.

2009 Mariners (85-77)

Hey ... Ho! Ken Griffey Jr. was back for an encore. He hit .214 with 19 homers and 57 RBI. Then in 2010 he failed to homer and retired abruptly in June.

2010 Mariners (61-101)

General manager Jack Zduriencik was entering his second season with Seattle, but he would fail to lead the team to a winning record. Rebuilding became a familiar word to fans.

2011 Mariners (67-95)

Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award in 2010 (13-12, 2.27 ERA). He was the “King” now — but 2011 was a slight drop (14-14, 3.47 ERA).

2012 Mariners (75-87)

Time for a youth movement. But can you get more depressing than seeing a cover of Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley? Ouch.

2014 Mariners (87-75)

Seattle shelled out the big bucks to land free agent Robinson Cano — $240 million over 10 years. Cano hit .314 in his first season here.

2017 Mariners (78-84)

Closer Edwin Diaz sported a 100-mph fastball and saved 34 games (after saving 18 in 2016 and later a whopping 57 in 2018).

2018 Mariners (89-73)

The M’s — and their fans — were still hoping to break the painful playoff drought and this team never fell below .500 all season.

2019 Mariners (68-94)

Rebuilding the franchise, no illusions now. LEGOs might be more fun on some game nights, but young players are arriving.

2020 Mariners

Hopefully we can bring you another season preview in ... June? July?

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