For the Seattle Mariners, 2012 will end with yet another losing record, but the team showed vast improvements on the mound, and is making continual and gradual progress offensively.
It's often difficult to find a most valuable player on a losing team, but in this case it's pretty easy.
Until September, Seattle ace Felix Hernandez was a top Cy Young Award contender and arguably the best pitcher in baseball. He's suffered a bit of a setback this month (0-3, 6.38 ERA) but nevertheless, King Felix is undoubtedly the MVP for the Mariners this season.
He's single-handedly kept the M's in countless ballgames. Four times this season, Felix has pitched in games in which the final score was 1-0. All four of those were Mariners' wins, and Hernandez went the distance each time.
Felix won five straight starts between July 14 and August 4, and achieved two other winning streaks of three games: from June 17-28, and August 15-27.
September struggles aside, King Felix has dominated Major League Baseball for much of the season, especially in July and August.
In the two months combined, Hernandez put up astonishing numbers. He went 7-0 with a 1.57 ERA in 11 starts. Felix also recorded 70 strikeouts while allowing only 14 walks in just under 86 innings pitched. He also threw the 23rd perfect game in MLB history on August 15 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
In the future, it would be great to see Felix maintain those July and August numbers, or something similar, for an entire season. I'm surprised at his struggles as of late, but the man has thrown over 3,300 pitches this season.
Without King Felix, the M's would have fared worse in many games this season, and although I haven't been able to witness it first hand, he's undoubtedly a leader in the clubhouse and the captain of the pitching staff.
The Pacific Northwest hopes to house Felix Hernandez for years to come, and (fingers crossed) maybe one day he'll lead the Mariners to that elusive first World Series championship.