Ken Griffey Jr. – OF (Years Active: 1990-1999)
“The Kid” is probably the most recognizable face in Seattle Mariners history. Making his Major League debut in 1989, at 20 years old, Griffey spent the entirety of the 1990s with the Seattle Mariners.
Griffey’s resume in the 1990s is unbelievable. From 1990-1999 (10 seasons), Griffey earned the 1997 American League MVP Award, 10 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger Awards, four American League Home Run Crowns, three Home Run Derby Championships, countless endorsements and video game deals, and even a candidacy for President of the United States in 1996.
Quite simply, Griffey dominated the American League for the majority of the 1990s.
Griffey’s numbers are impressive in the All-Time lists, but in Seattle Mariners history, they are incredible. Griffey ranks first in Mariners history in home runs and second in RBI, as well as second in Mariners history in games played, at-bats, and runs scored (behind Edgar Martinez in each category).
Griffey was one of the greatest players in all of baseball in the 1990s, and accordingly, he was one of the greatest Mariners in that span as well.
Edgar Martinez – 3B/DH (Years Active: 1990-1999)
Edgar Martinez played alongside Ken Griffey Jr. for the entirety of Griffey’s first stint with the team. While Griffey was wowing the fans with top-tier defense and elite home run power, Edgar Martinez kept them happy by roping doubles, earning RBI, and collecting batting titles.
In the 1990s, Edgar Martinez earned four All-Star appearances, three Silver Slugger Awards, two American League batting titles, and even an American League RBI crown (it was in 2000, but close enough).
Martinez’s career certainly continued to be successful into the 2000s, where he earned three more All-Star appearances, two more Silver Slugger Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award, but he was instrumental to the Seattle Mariners successful years in the 1990s.
In all, Martinez ranks first in Mariners history in games played, at-bats, hits, total bases, doubles, runs scored, and runs batted in, and second in batting average.
In maybe his finest hour, Martinez hit the series-winning double that scored Ken Griffey Jr. to defeat the New York Yankees in the 1995 American League Divisional Series. By Martinez’s own admission, that double “defined [his] career.”
Still one of the two or three greatest fan favorites in Seattle (along with Griffey and Ichiro), Martinez enjoys a place in the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame, a soon-to-be retired No. 11 in the Mariners history books, and even a street named after him next to the stadium. In Seattle, the man is an icon.
Verdict: My heart says Edgar, but my mind says Griffey. Edgar committed his entire career to the Mariners, but considering only the 1990s, where both of these men played all 10 years in Seattle, Griffey simply had a more productive run. Ken Griffey Jr.