PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's been 16 years since the Mariners earned a postseason berth and, not coincidentally, only one player has garnered one of the biggest Major League postseason awards during that span.Other than Felix Hernandez's Cy Young Award in 2010, Seattle hasn't taken home any major hardware since the
PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's been 16 years since the Mariners earned a postseason berth and, not coincidentally, only one player has garnered one of the biggest Major League postseason awards during that span.
Other than Felix Hernandez's Cy Young Award in 2010, Seattle hasn't taken home any major hardware since the 116-win season in 2001 when Ichiro Suzuki won both the American League MVP Award and Rookie of the Year Award and Lou Piniella was named the AL Manager of the Year.
Is this the year the Mariners break that trend? Well, it would certainly help if they put together a playoff team. And if one of Seattle's stars has an award-worthy campaign, it would certainly help fuel such a postseason run.
So what Mariners might be candidates for such lofty honors?
That list certainly starts with Robinson Cano, who finished eighth in the AL MVP balloting last year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Cano is capable of putting up MVP numbers -- he hit a career-high 39 homers last season with 103 RBIs and a .298/.350/.533 line. He finished third in the AL MVP balloting in 2010 and in the top six every year from 2010-14.
Obviously, that's a tough competition with two-time MVP Michael Trout leading a group of impressive young stars like Carlos Correa, Mookie Betts, Manny Machado and Jose Altuve who are all capable of putting together huge campaigns.
But Cano had the sixth-highest bWAR in the Majors last year, and if the Mariners put together a big season, it's hard not to see their star second baseman smack in the middle of that.
Nelson Cruz is another player capable of wowing voters with his power numbers, though it's hard for a designated hitter to win the MVP. Third baseman Kyle Seager might be the better longshot bet, given he had the seventh-highest bWAR of any position player in the Majors last year and finished 12th in the AL MVP voting.
The AL Cy Young figures to be a more-difficult proposition for the Mariners to compete for, unless Hernandez turns back the clock a few years and re-enters elite status. The Mariners would be quite happy for Hernandez simply to get back to his 2015 level when he went 18-9 with a 3.53 ERA.
But to be Cy Young Award worthy, the 30-year-old hurler would need to revert to '14 production when he was 15-6 with a 2.14 ERA and finished second to Cleveland's Corey Kluber in the voting.
Kluber is again one of the Cy Young favorites heading into the season, though the early money figures to be on Chris Sale after the standout lefty was acquired by the Red Sox over the offseason in a whopper trade with the White Sox.
Of course, if the Mariners do sail into the playoffs, Scott Servais would figure to get a lot of consideration for Manager of the Year in his second season. Manager of the Year voters tend to favor skippers who take teams that don't have great history or expectations and lead them to unexpected success, so Servais could fill that bill nicely with a regular-season breakthrough.
The other major awards category is Rookie of the Year and the Mariners have a potential contender in Mitch Haniger, given the 26-year-old is going to be given a chance to play every day in right field and has shown this spring he's capable of putting up good offensive numbers to go with his stellar defense.
But the heavy favorite for Rookie of Year honors in the AL heading into the season is Andrew Benintendi, a 23-year-old who is the No. 1 prospect in MLB and will get a chance to shine as the Red Sox's left fielder in hitter-friendly Fenway Park.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
@GregJohnsMLB]() and listen to his podcast.