The Mariners are enduring a difficult 2019 as they look to rebuild. Yet, while the current team is still discovering its next big stars, Seattle’s fans can’t complain at the array of talent they’ve witnessed first hand over the years. Here we check out five of the Mariners’ all-time best players.
Ichiro Suzuki became the face of the Mariners both because of his brilliance in the field and, as the lead-off hitter, the first player to the plate at the start of every game. During Seattle’s difficult years, the team largely forgotten come play-off time, Ichiro’s name was still familiar to anyone talking about the American League West. His recording breaking four-year period between 2001 and 2004, when he recorded 924 hits to beat the previous record of 918 set in 1932, ensured the Japanese star would forever hold a place in MLB history.
A Mariners’ “nice guy”, Edgar Martinez was one of the great “team players”. He worked hard for the jersey and gave every game his all. It’s the effort, the way he carried himself, his relationship with the fans, that puts him on this list. Spending 18 years with the franchise makes the Puerto-Rican designated hitter part of the furniture and rightly his number was retired following his decision to step away from the game in 2004. His career, which was played entirely in Seattle, concluded with a batting average of .312 and 309 home runs.
The Mariners got the better deal when they traded Ken Phelps to the New York Yankees in exchange for Jay Buhner in 1988. In fact, every time the right fielder faced his former team it brought the best out of him. His 1991 breakout year saw him hit a massive home run at Yankee Stadium in late spring of that season. Buhner’s personality was part of his charm, becoming a firm favourite amongst Mariners fans while being a consistent power-hitter on the field. His 13 years with Seattle peaked in 1996 when he won the Gold Glove and was called up to the All-Star team.
One of the greatest pitchers in MLB history, Randy Johnson remains the Mariners’ most highly regarded starters alongside current long-term player Felix Hernandez. If you read more about baseball news you’ll know Hernandez is still playing a big role for the team he has represented his entire career. When he does eventually retire he’ll likely make this list alongside Randy “Big Unit” Johnson who got his name thanks to his near-seven-feet of height and huge reach. That enabled him to deliver a devastating combination of fast balls and sliders to put him in the strikeout history books and leave an indelible mark on Seattle baseball history. Johnson will be remembered for individual performances as much as his overall win record. His stellar Cy Young Award-winning 1995 season, when he posted an 18-2 record with a 2.48 earned run average and 294 strikeouts, was the year everyone knew Johnson would go down as one of the sport’s very best “aces”.
Ken Griffey Jr.
A star of the game and one of MLB’s most recognizable names, Ken Griffey Jr. put Seattle on the baseball map. His charisma was extended through a magnificent swing while his stats displayed an all-round genius. His power (389 home runs) was matched by speed (he stole 167 bases) and the skill to drive in runs and get important hits at crucial times. He was an American League All-Star ten years in a row, a multi Golden Glove and Silver Slugger winner, and he topped the AL’s annual home run record four times. After he finished playing in 2010, his number 14 was retired to commemorate what he did for a franchise that will always have him in its heart.
There are a few young Mariners on the 2019 roster – like Mitch Haniger, for example, who could become the franchise’s next big stars. However, right now, during a year of transition and rebuilding, Seattle’s fans might rather take a moment to reflect on the team’s historical successes and some of the great players who have worn the jersey.