Over the course of the next month, LWOSports will be breaking down the top five Major League Baseball players in franchise history for all 30 teams. This article will rank the best five players from least to best by who had the biggest impact for the Seattle Mariners. You can check out the other series articles here.
Top Five Seattle Mariners Players
5. Randy Johnson
For nearly ten years, pitcher Randy Johnson crafted a name for himself in the major leagues. Standing at 6’10” tall, Johnson earned the nickname “The Big Unit”. His presence on the mound as a left-handed pitcher gave him the ability to showcase as a Seattle Mariner. The first few years with the team, he led the American League in walks and hit batters. This performance caused him to change his pitching delivery and ultimately, that began his extensive career.
On the mound, Johnson delivered spectacular results. His determination and drive earned him the Cy Young award in 1995. A showing of 294 strikeouts and a 2.48 ERA gave him the 18-2 record he needed to persevere. Johnson was named to the All-Star team five times and a four-time strikeout leader. After playing with several teams following his departure from Seattle, Randy Johnson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.
4. Felix Hernandez
Currently still playing for the Mariners, Felix Hernandez gets the nod for Top Five players on this list. The Venezuelan born right-hander made his debut in the Major Leagues at the age of 19. During his first full season with the team, he recorded his first shutout. This high energy performance continued as he matured through the league, earning him many accolades. Hernandez threw nine pitches in one inning to strike out the side; only the 13th player to do so in the American League.
Because of his continued accuracy and candor as a pitcher, he earned the Cy Young award in 2010. He led the league in ERA, innings pitched and quality starts, just to name a few. However, this season was not his best in terms of record. The 13 wins and 12 losses were the downfalls to an otherwise stellar season. This did not muddle his career however nor define a decline in his pitching. In 2012, for the first time in Seattle Mariners history, Hernandez threw a perfect game. His 12 strikeouts during that outing gave them the win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Through the 2018 season, “King Felix” has recorded 2,467 strikeouts and looks to add to that total for next season.
3. Edgar Martinez
18 years with one organization is an amazing feat for Puerto-Rican designated hitter, Edgar Martinez. He began his career with the franchise in 1982, working his way through the minor leagues until 1987. The major leagues were blessed to see Martinez in the line up as he contributed to the Mariners in many ways. His career started as a third baseman but quickly converted to the designated hitter lineup spot. A two-time American League batting champion was also followed up by five Silver Slugger awards.
One of his best performances as a player came in a series in the American League against the New York Yankees. His batting average was .571 and over the course of five games, found himself on base 18 times. In the deciding game five, which elevated the Mariners to the American League, he knocked a double into the gap which gave them the win. The Seattle Mariners would always honor the legacy of Edgar Martinez. Over his career, he would average .312 at bat, hit 2,247 times, bat in 1,261 runs and knock 309 homers around the park. The Mariners inducted him into the Hall of Fame and retired his number 11 as a way to honor all he contributed to the franchise.
2. Ichiro Suzuki
Perhaps one of the most well-known baseball players in the league is none other than Ichiro Suzuki. The Japanese born right fielder began his career in his home country, playing eight years with them. He maintained a .385 batting average over 1,278 hits and also earned seven Golden Glove awards. His performance over his time in Japan gave the Seattle Mariners the opportunity to bring him to the United States. In 2001, got his first major league start. Not only did the aspiring Ichiro start his career in the major leagues off strong, but he also led the league that year with a .350 batting average and 56 stolen bases.
Being a rookie in the league did not stop him from earning several accolades. He was named to the All-Star team, took home his first Golden Glove and Silver Slugger award. This was all capped by being awarded the American League Rookie award & American League Most Valuable Player award. His accelerated batting performance from 2001-2004 was highlighted by having 924 hits over a four-year window. This broke a previous record of 918 hits from 1929 to 1932. He also broke another record by hitting his 2,248 hit which was previously held by Edgar Martinez.
His time in the MLB while with the Mariners has granted him the opportunity to open up the field of play for many Japanese baseball players. His coy playing style and small frame did not stop the power he had in his throwing arm, nor his batting strength. He was an All-Star, 10 years in a row coupled with receiving the Gold Glove award 10 years in a row as well. While Ichiro has not officially retired yet, his charisma and candor towards the game have been loved by many. He continues to engulf himself in the baseball world and will be known as a legend in the years to come.
1. Ken Griffey Jr.
21 years in the league gave “The Kid” Ken Griffey, Jr. his well earned honor as a member of the Seattle Mariners. As the son of a former Major League baseball player, he was immersed in the sport from a very young age. His adaptation to baseball earned him the overall number one selection by the Mariners in 1987. He was called up to the majors in 1989 after spending a few years in the minor leagues perfecting his craft. The center fielder put on a showcase every time he was on the field over his first 10 years with the franchise.
Over the course of his first decade in the league, Griffey, Jr. made himself into a household name. Named to the American League All-Star game 10 years in a row, was just the beginning of his extensive career. The fans were aware of his dominance as his first at-bat produced a double down the line. He followed that up a week later by hitting his first home run in the MLB. Ken Griffey, Jr. and his father Ken Griffey, Sr. played in the league at the same time. Together, they played 51 games, even hitting back to back home runs in the same game.
As a Mariner, Griffey Jr. did not disappoint with his performances in the field or at bat. He stole 167 bases, 389 home runs, 1,152 RBIs and 1,752 hits over his career with them. This led to the astonishing decade of Golden Glove awards and seven Silver Slugger awards. He led the American League in home runs a total of four times and RBI’s in 1997. He was reunited with the club in 2009 after stepping away from the Mariners for nine years. Seattle enjoyed having him back and he was able to record the 5,000th hit in franchise history. After being limited in playing, Ken Griffey, Jr. decided to retire. His number 14 was retired by the team and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the same year.
The Seattle Mariners have made their home in the American League West since 1977. Over the course of their existence, they have held three West Division titles, but have failed to win the Pennant or World Series. While these accolades may not yet be a part of the franchise history, they did become home to some of the top baseball players in the league. Knowing that players such as Ken Griffey, Jr., Ichiro, Edgar Martinez, Felix Hernandez, and Randy Johnson were a part of this team’s legacy gives hope to the current team. If they can utilize their strengths over the season they have what it takes to make a run into the playoffs. We can only wait and see what happens next at T-Mobile Park.
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