Seattle Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders might not have been the most well-known player on the World Baseball Classic roster for Canada, a team that had star sluggers like Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds and Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins. However, Saunders was by far the best performer for team Canada.
Although Canada only came out victorious in one of their three games, Saunders was named the Most Valuable Player for pool D, that included the USA, Mexico and a surprising Italy team.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Saunders said after receiving the trophy. “However, it’s kind of a sour taste in my mouth right now. Whenever you represent your country, it really doesn’t matter how you do, as long as you win.”
Nobody can say that Saunders didn’t deserve this honor, as he easily outshined every other player in this pool, going 8 for 11 (.727 avg), driving in seven runs and hitting a towering two-run home run off of team USA pitcher Derek Holland of the division rival Texas Rangers.
Ernie Whitt, former Toronto Blue Jays catcher and manager for team Canada spoke very highly of his underrated MVP saying, “He’s a very talented man that probably doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves.” “Playing in Seattle, they just don’t have the media coverage. But just a tremendous up and coming outfielder that’s going to be a superstar.”
2012 was the first time that he played a full MLB season, but Saunders did a very good job in center field for the Mariners, hitting for an average of .247 with 19 home runs in 139 games. However, with Franklin Gutierrez fully healthy now, it is likely that the native of British Columbia will move to right field for the 2013 season.
Saunders is only 26 years old. Mariners fans were able to get an idea of the kind of talent that this kid has last year, but with a performance like that on a global stage, he is now starting to be recognized as a potential superstar for the Seattle Mariners in the future.