Reading over last year’s opening to the 2020 40 in 40 series, I’m struck by the optimism and enthusiasm contained on those electronic pages; although isn’t that the case, every year? The contrast is just more stark after a year spent confined indoors thanks to a global pandemic. It was a year unlike any other year and yet, at the end of it, the sentiment is still the same, if intensified: we still don’t believe this Mariners team is ready to compete with the big bombers of the AL (or NL West, for that matter), we’re still expecting some characteristically Bad Baseball, and yet we’re as excited as ever—if not more so—to see the 2021 season off, hopefully safely and soundly.
This year will, like last year, bring a spate of players who have never had a 40 in 40 written about them, and possibly some call-ups for young prospects about whom we won’t have an opportunity to write one before next season. This year will also bring familiar faces back for their second or third or umpteenth iteration of a 40 in 40, and new perspectives on players who were perceived as marginal contributors or unknown quantities last year. The roster is full as of this writing, but that can certainly change going forward, and we will make every effort to have as complete a set of profiles as possible before the first Spring Training game on February 27. In past years we’ve opened this series wishing for a fun or successful or surprising season; this year, hoping for a safe and healthy season for everyone seems sufficient.