The first week (we're all agreeing to pretend those Japan games happened this past week, right? Okay, good) of the 2012 Seattle Mariners season is in the books. They've played eight games and finished up their first road trip. They were briefly in first place in the American League West and all things considered, the first eight games went pretty darn well. They'll roll into Safeco Field for their first homestand on Friday holding a totally-respectable 4-4 record.
So with eight games under their belts, how have the individual players been doing? Which ones have contributed immensely, which have exceeded expectations and who is struggling early? In the first installment of our individual player rankings, we will use a universal and, frankly, infallible scale of judgment. Namely, equating each player's performance with a specific Miley Cyrus song.
It's no secret that Miley Cyrus is a gifted pop songstress. Her second album, Breakout, is possibly the finest pure pop album of our generation. If you want bubblegum, her repertoire is basically a one-stop shop of everything you could possibly need. She provides pure, unadulterated feel-good music, much like the Seattle Mariners. Well okay, maybe not "much like."
Each M's performance through the first eight games of the 2012 season will be considered in relation with the Cyrus oeuvre and ranked accordingly, from her best song ("Party in the U.S.A.," obviously) to her worst (the regrettable "Ice Cream Freeze," which -- while technically a Hannah Montana song -- is easily the worst thing she's ever recorded, making her father's "Achy Breaky Heart" look like "Across the Universe" by comparison). If you should happen to be unfamiliar with the work of Ms. Cyrus -- and for shame, dear reader -- we have provided helpful links for you. So read on!
Note: position players will need a minimum of 10 at-bats to qualify for the inaugural power rankings.
Seattle Mariners Power Rankings: April 13, 2012
1. Kyle Seager is "Party in the U.S.A."
You probably had a good idea that our buddy Seager was going to be topping the list. He's got nine hits in 28 at-bats and it seems like every single hit has meant something. He's sporting an .845 OPS, has a home run and two doubles and leads the team with six RBI. He also has a walk and a stolen base and has struck out just twice. Thus, he earns the distinction of being synonymous with the greatest Miley Cyrus song of all time and possibly the greatest song ever written about the United States. Well done, Kyle.
2. Chone Figgins is "Time of Our Lives"
This entry is particularly apt. Figgins has said for a while now that the thing that's been hurting him is the lack of an opportunity to be an everyday leadoff hitter. He's taken to that role with aplomb and has looked better than he ever has, although it is, of course, the very early going here. He's tied for the team lead with 10 hits in 33 at-bats. He has two doubles, a triple and four RBI. He has struck out eight times against just two walks, but that's pretty much the only thing going against him through the first eight games. He is very clearly having the time of his life, thus the song selection. (It really is a great song, especially when it kicks in after the false ending at about 2:56 or so. Play it loud and you'll have a little bit of an idea of how great Chone is feeling right now.)
3. Ichiro Suzuki is "See You Again [Rock Mafia Remix]"
Ichiro, it is so good to "See You Again" (see what I did there). The No. 3 hitter spot has been kind to Ichiro and he's looked every but like the Hall of Famer that he is through this opening road trip. He's got 10 hits, a double, a triple, four runs scored, three runs batted in and a 1:1 strikout-to-walk ratio with two apiece. At least for the time being, he's put any concerns about his spot in the order to rest and is acting like a throwback three-hole hitter of the type we used to see often before the McGwires and Pujolses of the world made us all dinger-crazy.
4. Dustin Ackley is "Start All Over"
On top of his eight hits, four runs and four RBI, Ackley has been the most unabashedly fun Mariner to watch, behind Seager. Most of that, of course, is due to the sheer fact of him being Dustin Ackley. To that end, the video for "Start All Over" is unabashedly fun as well, filmed in one take and a very well-done gimmick video. I'm a sucker for one-take videos, just like I'm a sucker for Ackley's swing.
5. Michael Saunders is "The Driveway"
Saunders has gotten off to a terrific start by putting together an .833 OPS and scoring four runs, despite driving in just two. Three of his six hits were doubles and another was a home run. Something even more awesome: his two stolen bases lead the team, as do his three walks. He's exactly want you want him to be for the Mariners right now, so he gets to be associated with exactly the power ballad you want to listen to right now.
6. Brandon League is "It's All Right Here"
The first time we saw Brandon League this season, he was watching a line drive graze his jawline on Opening Day in Japan. No big d, said League, going on to pick up the save. That's how totally righteous League is. In four games, he's converted three of three save opportunities and allowed no runs and no walks while allowing just three hits. League is clearly a badass, so he gets a driving song that gets you pumped up and lets you know you're about to be in the thick of a spectacular party, similar to "Panama" or "Party Hard." I move that League's entrance music should be "It's All Right Here."
7. Kevin Millwood is "East Northumberland High"
Everyone was going about Millwood being pulled out of mothballs to come pitch for the Mariners. He stifled some of those laughs with a quality start in his first 2012 appearance, going six innings and giving up just one run on four hits and three walks, while striking out seven. Millwood thus gets the ultimate "psssh, whatevs" song. "People change / Thank god I did," as the song goes. M's fans are being thankful that Millwood has looked solid so far.
8. Blake Beavan is "The Climb"
Beavan was a hard-luck loser in his debut game of 2012 and return to his home state, coming up on the losing end of a pitcher's duel against the Texas Rangers. 6.1 innings, six hits, just one walk and one measly run. He still got saddled with the loss. Beavan might have a bright future ahead of him if all goes well, but of course, it's going to be a long climb. If he can mature both on the field and off, his journey could well be worth watching.
9. Tom Wilhelmsen is "Let's Do This"
Four games. 5.2 innings. Four hits. No walks. One earned run. Six strikeouts. Wilhelmsen is the most consistent arm out of the bullpen right now and getting the situational outs with workmanlike efficiency. "Let's Do This" is not only a tribute to Wilhelmsen's general kickassery, but his attitude toward the job.
11. Felix Hernandez is "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
We expected King Felix to come out and throw a couple of no-hitters, I suppose. By those standards, his seven earned runs and 13 hits in 14.1 innings are a bit of a disappointment. But his 13 strikeouts to lead the team, 0.98 WHIP and just one walk look mighty fine. Also keep in mind that three of those runs came on his only home run allowed. Miley's cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is a bit eye-rolling at first; why would a burgeoning pop starlet cover an iconic "burgeoning pop starlet" song that we've all already heard a million billion times before, let alone do such a straightforward version? But then you listen to it a time or two and you realize, "Hey, this is actually a totally solid cover." In fact, it might even be ... great. Sort of snuck up on you there, didn't it?
12. Jason Vargas is "Bottom of the Ocean"
Vargas' 18.1 innings lead the team, but his 1-1 record belies the tough loss he faced in his second start. He's allowed two home runs and seven earned runs over those two starts, but has 12 strikouts and a 0.98 WHIP. He's been stoic and consistent in those two starts and really makes you pull for him. He receives Miley's best straight ballad, which itself gets bonus points for the percussion programming that evokes a vintage Phil Collins torch song.
12. Justin Smoak is "Talk is Cheap"
We want Justin Smoak to do great. We want him to be a masher. His nine strikeouts lead the team and indicate that he's swinging for the fences and isn't going to stop doing so. He's got seven hits in 33 at-bats, including a double and a home run. He's put in a fine, workmanlike effort with hints of something on the verge of happening, so he gets a fine, workmanlike song that has a bit of an edge to it (forced though it might be).
13. Brendan Ryan is "Let's Dance"
Brendan has four hits in 20 at-bats and just one walk against five strikeouts. But three of those four hits were doubles and four of the five times he's reached base, he's scored. He's a tough one to figure out, so he gets "Let's Dance," which is the toughest Miley song to figure out. It has fantastic aspects and extremely catchy parts, but also has some cringe-inducingly horrid parts. It may be a good song, but it also may be a really bad song. There is no way of telling. That's where Ryan is right now.
14. Lucas Luetge is "7 Things"
Luetge has appeared in just 1.2 innings over two games and has given up one hit and struck out three. He is the smallest of all the small sample sizes and there is absolutely no way to effectively judge his performance. As such, he gets the most disjointed and least representative song in the Miley catalog. If you were to hear no other Miley Cyrus song but "7 Things," you would be forgiven for thinking she is to be avoided at all costs. You also would be forgiven for liking the song. Taken in conjunction with the rest of her work, it's a decent song. On its own, it's basically a train wreck. She can't decide whether to use her "country" voice or her "rock" voice consistently throughout. In the video, she counts off the song off-time. The video, by the way, is the creepiest thing she's ever done. I guess I don't actually recommend watching the video. I kind of forgot where I was going with this. Oh, right. Lucas Luetge. Who knows, man? Who even knows.
15. Jesus Montero is "Wake Up America"
Jesus Montero was the top hitting prospect for the New York Yankees. The Mariners got him in a trade for their number two starter, who arrived in New York fat and injured. The Mariners clearly "won" the trade. Still, Montero is pressing at the plate through the first eight games. He has seven hits, but they're all singles. He has no walks and has struck out four times. He's driven in just two runs and he himself has crossed the plate only once. He will wake up eventually, but hopefully his awakening will be less jingoistic, naive and cloying than "Wake Up America."
16. Munenori Kawasaki is "Just A Girl"
"Just a Girl" may as well be titled "Just Skip This Song." Kawasaki has played in just four of the eight games and has just 10 at-bats. Two runs, two hits, two RBI, two strikeouts, one walk. No extra-base hits. He's just sort of there at this point. Just like this song.
17. Erasmo Ramirez is "Obsessed"
Erasmo gets Miley's worst and most groan-inducing ballad. His low placement is not due to anything terrible, more due to his boring stats. 4.1 innings in two appearances, with two runs on four hits and a walk. Ugh, whatever already, NEXT SONG. (Sorry, Erasmo. I'm sure you'll have a fine season.)
18. Steve Delabar is "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"
Miley's version of "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" is the antithesis of her cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." It's not cool, it's not interesting, it's not fun and it makes no sense. Delabar has allowed four runs in 4.2 innings, to the tune of a 7.71 ERA. He's struck out six batters without allowing a walk, though, so I guess that highlight can be his version of the inexplicable keyboard/guitar slides, ambient sound effects, and echo-clap that make the song just bizarre enough to listen to.
19. Miguel Olivo is "Can't Be Tamed"
Ugh. Just ugh all around for this entry. Olivo has four hits in 28 at-bats (.143) and hasn't reached base apart from three singles and a double (the latter of which came in the ninth inning of the last game of the road trip and accounted for one of his three RBI thus far, padding his numbers admirably but not fooling me for the purposes of this list). He's slugging .179 and has an OPS of .321. Much like Miley's first attempt at being "grown-up and risque," that ain't good.
20. Hector Noesi is "Ice Cream Freeze"
The worst of the worst for the first week. Of all the Seattle performances -- keeping in mind that just over a 20th of the season has been played and that this is a remarkably small sample size -- his was the stinkiest butt of an early showing (to use a statistical term). In Noesi's one start, he gave up seven runs (including two home runs) on six hits and three walks ... in three innings. Let's all hope that Safeco will result in an immediate and sharp drop in his 21.00 ERA. Let's further hope that we never have to hear "Ice Cream Freeze" ever, ever, ever, ever again.
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