Thanksgiving doesn't fall during the major league season, so we here at the Esteemed Baseball Site Lookout Landing are showing our appreciation at this, the All-Star Break.
I've been breaking very hard: For the last three or so weeks, I've been following the Mariners from afar while traveling throughout Europe. Given that the 7:10 home game times are actually four in the morning over here, it's been tough to watch everyday. I watch when I can, tuning in for parts of day games and the like, but in the end I've followed along on Twitter and by reading recaps & box scores.
So while I do want to give a toast to the miracle that is MLB TV, I also think it's important to point out something that almost all of us have to follow through Twitter and statistics, and that's the minor league system.
For lack of a better phrase, holy shit! That's way better than any other team - for context, the difference in winning percentage between the Mariners' affiliates and the second-best organization, the Phillies, is bigger than the difference between the Phillies and the 12th-best org, the Twins.
That's also way better than last season. In 2015, the M's teams finished with a winning percentage of .469, which would rank 20th this year, and most of those wins came from the lowest levels, as the rookie ball teams finished a combined 122-78. The other squads were 270-365, an abysmal .425 mark.
But one Jerry Dipoto later and the little guys are soaring. Jackson has a sensational 54-31 record, helped greatly by the emergence of Futures Game participant and Canadian superhero Tyler O'Neill, who's muscled 16 homers and boasts a .308/.375/.545 despite only turning 21 a few weeks ago. On the mound, Edwin Diaz's surge to prominence as a reliever has been well documented by the big-league club, but it all started in AA, and last year's second-round pick, Andrew Moore, also hasn't been too shabby, walking just six guys in 41 innings of work.
And it doesn't stop there. I don't really need to delve into Tacoma, since it seems like basically their whole team has made an appearance in Seattle thus far. In Clinton, top prospects are starting to shine again, with Nick Neidert's unreal 45/7 K/BB ratio and Alex Jackson's recent play restoring some hope. Kyle Lewis has been outstanding in Everett after falling to the M's in the draft. And on, and on, and on.
Of course, the best beers - the IPAs of the baseball world - go out to two once-hyped players who fell on tough times last year. I'm talking, of course, about Mike Zunino and D.J. Peterson.
Zunino failed spectacularly at the big league level last year, but got off to a torrid start in Tacoma and has impressed the new brass with his determination to improve.
I can't do a better job of writing about DJP than Ethan did here, as he did a sensational job, but once you read that you get an idea of the obstacles he's overcome.
In a way, DJP is a microcosm for the Mariners' farm system as a whole this year. Down in the dumps, with that new-car smell worn off, but he's rebounded so well. Do we know what DJP will be next year? No. Do we know if the minor league teams will continue to star? No.
But until then, here's to you, Everett/Clinton/Bakersfield/Jackson/Tacoma. Keep up the good work. And while you're at it, Have a Beer.