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Birthday Bash of the Week: Mike Ford takes the lead

The Mariners are going to live on! They’re going to survive!

MLB: JUL 03 Mariners at Giants Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By now, we know that Mike Ford’s been on the merry-go-round. Just counting the Mariners, this is his fourth tour of duty. Last year, he played for four different teams and was with the Mariners two separate times. It’s not unheard of to get passed around the League like a vape at a UW frat party (is this something youths do?), but it is unusual to do it and still make the big league club with each of those four teams.

He got those opportunities because there’s something there with Mike Ford. This website has been thirsty for Ford since the 2017 offseason. When the Mariners eventually selected him in the Rule 5 Draft later that month, LL was pretty stoked. But the Mariners eventually opted to go with Danny Valencia and Daniel Vogelbach at first base, and Ford was returned to the Yankees before the season started, not making his debut until the following season.

A great 2019 showed why Lookout Landing and the Mariners had been interested in him though. His 134 wRC+ would play despite his limited defensive value. But he struggled in limited opportunities over the next few years, and that’s when he started getting tossed around.

But he kept grinding, kept making adjustments. He says he hadn’t been able to get into his front hip and that it was too hard to make the change in the middle of a season. I think he’s being modest because making that change while moving through four different organizations could only have compounded the challenge. The changes he made to his set-up during this offseason, however, should be obvious even to the most amateur scout.

And what a difference it’s made. Although he didn’t get his opportunity with the Mariners until June as Seattle cycled through folks like literally Tommy La Stella, he was tearing up the Pacific Coast League. Over 31 games in the show, he’s put up a 160 wRC+, which, if you lower the threshold to 90 PAs, is in the top 10 in MLB.

The game that did the most to buoy those numbers happened to have been his birthday, July 4th. On a four-hit day with two doubles, he also hit a home run against one of the teams he cycled through last year, and it’s your Play of the Week.

For a guy who’s been optioned to AAA on the day before his birthday twice, it was a birthday to remember. That’s the kind of story that’s easy to get behind. For fans of a team that badly needed a lift at DH, it’s even easier. I don’t know for sure if Mike Ford is the permanent solution to the Mariners’ lineup, but at least for the time being, he’s the guy who’s been stopping them from going quietly into the night. The Mariners are not going to go down without a fight. They’re going to survive. Mike Ford showed them how to celebrate Independence Day.

Honorable Mentions

Logan Goes Full Walter

I’m not going to honor Logan’s first career complete game shutout better than his teammates.

Logan Goes Full Walter Part II

Logan followed up his complete game shutout by going 7 innings against the Astros, allowing just one run on three hits, with six strikeouts and no walks. He finished off his first half with this disappearing curveball.

Cabby Nails Bregman

José Caballero has been such a difference maker for this team since getting called up. He’s the kind of spark plug every successful team really needs, with his baserunning, tendency to get hit by pitches, and pitch-clock shenanigans really being the showstoppers. But don’t sleep on his defense.

J.P. Nails Bregman

Nobody sleeps on J.P. Crawford’s defense, but this play was a spectacle nonetheless. Sure, it’s partly just because you want to see Alex Bregman make an out so badly. But so what.

Sewald Nails Bregman

Yes, this one too.

Geno Hits the Boxes

The most annoying thing about playing in Houston isn’t when the Astros hit home runs into the Crawford Boxes. It’s that the Mariners so often seem not to realize that they can do it too. So it came as more of a relief than it should have that as part of Geno’s two-homer game, he did just that.

J.P. Embarrasses Chas McCormick

After swiping at Ty France in a pathetic attempt to get on base, Chas richly deserved this.