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All Hustle, No Talent

It’s a fine line between fan favorite and scourge. It so often starts one way and trends inexorably the other.

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September of 2002, 24 year-old Willie Bloomquist takes his cup of coffee and throws it in the face of expectations. The Mariners are about to win 93 games and finish in third place. The pride of Port Orchard is tearing the cover off the ball: .455/.526/.576. He would never near that level of productivity again, but log another 1,351 plate appearances for the Mariners. In the next six seasons, he will amass 0.1 wins above replacement.

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Bloomquist came to be known as WFB by Mariners fans. The “F” does not stand for “Paul.” His fan appeal and coach appeal masked his terrible play.

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Seattle has a couple fan favorites playing today. Nick Reed won hearts with his hustle and skill. Brian Sweeney won hearts with his intelligence and moxie. For now, they are ever so slightly good, valuable. But either could, in a season or two, still be winning hearts while losing games. And like that, transform from feel good story to all-hustle, no-talent pariah.