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Sometimes it is unfair to be on the same team as Felix Hernandez, because any question involving "one of the best" and "Seattle Mariners" automatically defaults to him. Realistically, the more interesting question in any discussion involving the Mariners would go along the lines of, "Excluding Felix Hernandez, (insert question here)."
Also, realistically, if you were to describe the Mariners' pitcher with a million dollar arm the answer would begin and end with Hernandez. Arguments can always be made for other pitchers, like Randy Johnson and...um...other pitchers, but King Felix wins out on every occasion.
We all know the story with Hernandez. He was spotted by scouts in Venezuela at the age of 14, signed a contract with the Mariners at the age of 16 and was in the farm system by 17. Two years later, Hernandez, at the tender age of 19, was with the Mariners where he will reside forever. In many ways, it is quite improbable that Hernandez made it as far as he has, let alone into the majors in the first place. That is the eternal joy/pain that is scouting. Scouting is just predicting and hoping that you are right for all the good reasons. For every Hernandez that the Mariners' front-office heaps hope and promise on, there are just as many Ryan Andersons and Roger Salkelds.
In fact, let's take a look at all of the Mariners pitchers that the team drafted with high expectations in the first round (including supplemental picks) and see how they fared at the MLB level.
|year||name||draft pick||career||# of appearances||innings pitched||career FIP||career WAR|
The numbers aren't even close. No Mariners homegrown pitcher has come anywhere close to the numbers Hernandez has put up. Although hopefully Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen have fantastic careers, the odds of them approaching Hernandez's level of excellence are very slim.
"Million Dollar Arm" is the true story of J.B. Bernstein, who created a contest in India which resulted in the first two Indian men to ever sign pro sports contracts in the U.S. The Pittsburgh Pirates took a gamble on Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, and in the end it didn't work out too well. This wasn't too much of a surprise as Bernstein's Million Dollar Arm contest took the best cricket bowlers and threw them into the baseball arena. Sometimes, when you want to compete you have to get crafty.
The general gist of the film applies across most sports realms. Teams across all sports take more crazy gambles in an effort to get a leg up on the competition. Ohio State University men's basketball coach Thad Matta admitted LeBron James Jr. will be on his recruiting radar. LeBron James Jr. is currently 9-years-old. Just because you have your old man's talent flowing through your blood doesn't mean it will translate either. Trey Griffey had two major leaguers in the family tree and he currently enjoys football at the University of Arizona.
The Mariners took a gamble with Hernandez and that gamble struck whatever is better than gold. The Mariners not only got a good player - they got the face of the franchise for as long as he dons the jersey. King Felix has a Cy Young and perfect game on the mantle, and he still has plenty of time to add to the trophy cabinet. To further his million dollar arm case, King Felix could possibly literally be the Mariners' million dollar arm by the end of his contract. There is a clause that states if he spends more than 130 days in any 183 consecutive major-league days on the DL than he has a $1 million option in the year 2020.
So again, the real question isn't, "Who is the Mariners' million dollar arm?" It is, "Excluding Felix Hernandez, who is the Mariners' million dollar arm?"