Felix Hernandez: Mariners' "King" Hasn't Earned His Crown

Michael PopeAnalyst IMay 31, 2008

Let's get one thing straight--Felix Hernandez is a talented pitcher. At just 22 years old, he's already an accomplished big-leaguer with 32 wins. But, has he earned the title King?

He got the nickname after displaying an arsenal of above-average pitches and dominating Minor League hitters. It was written he'd quickly be one of the best pitchers in the league, especially after his first dozen games in which he posted a 2.67 ERA.

But, in the two years since, he's gone 26-21 with a 4.23 ERA. Respectable numbers, especially for a pitcher as young as Hernandez, but those unfitting a king.

He was supposed to be THE guy the Mariners would build the franchise around. After last year's 88-74 record, the Mariners were expecting big things this season from the team and him.

Yet, he's having another unspectacular season and the Mariners are the worst team in baseball. After today's win the Mariners are 5-7 in his starts. His record stands at 3-5.

Each year, Hernandez has looked brilliant from start to start. But, too often, he has stretches where he struggles and his glorified stuff looks hittable.

It takes some players a long time to find their groove. Some pitchers don't figure it out until their late 20's. Hernandez is well ahead of most, but not consistently dominating. Chances are, he will develop into one of the best pitchers in MLB, but he's not there yet.

So, let's not hand him the crown until he's earned it.