In finishing the road trip 0-7, the Mariners went back-to-back in being shut out 4-0 by the Minnesota Twins to fall to what is presumably the worst record (percentage-wise) they’ve held all year. In yesterday’s game in particular, the Mariners had but two hits. Chone Figgins had a double to raise his average to .238, but I’ll save the post about Figgins’ resurgence for another time. The OTHER hit yesterday was a triple by one Michael Saunders. Now look, I don’t want to be Jinxy McBadluckguy or anything, but I think Michael Saunders is someone Mariners fans should be excited about. He’s 23 years old, he plays left field (and he’s quite rangey for someone who’s 6 foot 4), he’s got some power, he’s got some speed, and he’s only getting better. Last season, for instance, I believe was technically his “rookie” season. In 122 at bats, he only had 4 extra base hits (0 home runs), 4 RBI, and 40 strike outs compared to 6 walks in batting .221. He was up and down and up between AAA and the big club, never really looked comfortable at the plate, and overall just kinda had a bad Growing Pains kinda year. This season didn’t start off all that much better, as he played all of April in Tacoma before being called up. In May, he played sporadically, and through the summer months as the team’s season started to unravel more and more, Saunders played more and more. While the power numbers picked up significantly from last year to this, he hovered between .200 and .225 all the way through June and half of July. BUT, he’s started to pick it up of late. In 177 at bats, Saunders has 18 extra base hits, including 8 home runs and 26 RBI. Yeah, the strike outs are still there with 51, but he’s up to 19 walks for a .243 batting average and a .316 on-base percentage. Obviously, you can’t sit here and annoint him the King of Left Field for 2011 just yet, but I think it’s significant that he’s raised his batting average almost 40 points since July 2nd. I think it means that he’s starting to put it together. I imagine being a young and rising prospect in baseball is tough. Seems like they have to break you down and make you overcome a bunch of setbacks before you’re considered a true Major Leaguer. A lot of potential future stars have come through this organization, only to be eaten alive once they get to The Show. It’s good to see that (fingers crossed), Michael Saunders might just make it. See, 2010 hasn’t been all bad.