So what if Safeco Field is a pitcher’s park? Cruz hit .302/.369/.566, crushed 44 home runs, made the All-Star team and was hands-down one of the premier power hitters in the game in his first season in Seattle. The team’s mediocrity, though, made him the most watchable part of an underachieving club…so hopefully (for their sake) he can put up similar numbers again in 2016.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
See all these changes work out
New GM Jerry Dipoto wasted no time instilling a new ‘atmosphere’ for the Mariners. He’s made a flurry of moves since being named Jack Zduriencik’s full-time replacement a few months ago in an effort to pull the club up to the level of its AL West peers. The M's also have a new manager, Scott Servais, replacing Lloyd McClendon. Will these changes pan out? Time will tell, but they've definitely started fresh in Seattle.
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
Enjoy a bounce-back season from Cano
The announcement that Robinson Cano played most of 2015 with a persistent stomach ailment could in part explain his down season. .287/.334/.446 would be a fine line for most players, but Cano isn’t "most players". His 3.4 WAR was the lowest of his career since 2008 with the Yankees, so there’s definitely room for improvement if he’s able to stage a bounce-back year in 2016…and with the M’s really trying to make it to the postseason, they’ll need all they can get from him.
Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY SpoJennifer Nicholson
Steve Cishek, legitimate closer?
One of Dipoto’s more interesting moves thus far with his new team was signing Steve Cishek – and the team’s announcement that he will be their closer. Cishek racked up 84 saves for the Miami Marlins from 2012-2013 before fading away with injuries and inconsistency. Depsite this, the M’s are entrusting him with ninth-inning duties (at least to start 2016), a decision ostensibly made in part due to having traded away Tom Wilhelmsen and Carson Smith in offseason deals.
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY SportsRobert Mayer
Watch Felix be Felix again
There has been some discussion warning of Felix Hernandez’s decline – after all, he’s 29, has thrown at least 200 innings in eight consecutive seasons and is entering his twelfth year with the Mariners. Still, he’s King Felix: capable of going out there and dominating hitters on any given night. With another summer of wear and tear on his arm in the books, however, the M’s will no doubt keep a close eye on his velocity and pitch count as the season wears on.