“The greatest Mariner in history, coming through with the big hit.”
That was Mike Sweeney on May 20th, following Ken Griffey Jr’s game winning basehit against the Toronto Bluejays.
Look, I love Junior. Have since he first came up in the major leagues. He is the player who got me interested in the Seattle Mariners. However, I don’t consider him the greatest Seattle Mariner in history. Who do I consider to be the greatest Seattle Mariner in history? Easy.
A few things to consider.
Edgar played his entire MLB career in Seattle, including having spent seven years in the minors. Three years into his MLB career, he won the AL batting title with a .343 batting average.
In 1994, he only played in 89 games to a hamstring injury that nagged him all season, but still posted a .285 batting average.
And what about 1995, when he became the team’s full time DH? He won the batting title again with a .356 batting average, an on base percentage of .479, and a slugging percentage of .628. He also hit 29 homeruns, 52 doubles, 113 runs batted in, 121 runs, and drew 116 walks.
And then there is the playoff series against the New York Yankees.. Let’s take a look at his stats first.
.571 batting average, .667 on base percentage, 2 homeruns, 10 runs batted in, 6 runs, 3 doubles, and 6 base on balls.
In game 1 of the ALDS, Edgar had 3 hits in 4 at-bats, including a walk.
In game 2 of the ALDS, Edgar had 3 hits in 6 at-bats, including a walk.
In game 3 of the ALDS, Edgar had 0 hits in 1 at-bat, walking three times, with two of those walks being intentional base on balls.
In game 4 of the ALDS, Edgar had 3 hits in 4 at-bats, hit 2 homeruns, including a grand slam, drove in 7 runs, and had one walk. His second inning three run homerun made the score Yankees 5, Mariners 3. His eight inning grand slam came with the score tied 6-6, giving the Mariners a 10-6 lead.
And in game 5 of the ALDS, Edgar had 3 hits in 6 at-bats, had 2 doubles, and drove in two runs. However, one of those doubles is considered the greatest hit in Seattle Mariner’s history, and one of the greatest hits in MLB history. In the bottom of the eleventh inning, with the Mariner’s down 4-5, Joey Cora was on third base, and Ken Griffey JR was on first base. Two innings earlier, Yankees pitcher Jack McDowell struck Edgar out swinging. It was only his second strikeout in the entire series.
On a 0-1 pitch from McDowell, Edgar roped a double down the left field line, scoring both Joey Cora and Ken Griffey to give the Mariners a 6-5 victory and a spot in the ALCS.
Many recall the majority of the team jumping on Ken Griffey JR as he scored the winning run. However, a fair amount of players also stampeded Edgar. Yes, let’s give credit where credit is due. Junior ran his butt off to score. The throw in to home plate wasn’t even close. As a matter of fact, save for catcher Dan Wilson and Edgar himself, there really wasn’t a player on the team who couldn’t have scored from first on Edgar’s double.
After 95, Edgar continued to post big numbers. In fact, from 1996 to 2001, he posted a .300 plus batting average every year. And in 2000, four years away from retiring, he drove in 145 runs, which was good enough for the lead league.
In terms of single season records, in 1995, as previously noted, Edgar had a .479 on base percentage. In 1995, his on base plus slugging was 1.107. In 1996, he had 123 walks.
For Seattle Mariner career records, he has the highest on base percentage, most games played in, most at-bats, most plate appearances, most runs, most hits, most total bases, most doubles, most runs batted in, most walks, most runs created, most extra base hits, most times on base, most times hit by a pitch, and most sacrifice flies.
Look, I could keep going on and on about his stats and whatnot, but that’s not what makes Edgar the greatest Mariner of all time. And it’s not one thing that makes Edgar the greatest. It’s many things.
Edgar played his entire career in the Mariners. He never chased the money, he never bolted to a team with a better chance to win a world series, he never complained publicly about anything. He makes his home in Seattle. Upon retiring, he opened the first Hispanic bank in Washington. He’s active in the community, still appearing at Mariner games and throwing out first pitches. The street right outside from Safeco Field is named Edgar Martinez drive.
He was a 7 time All Star, a 5 time Silver Slugger Award, a Seattle Mariner’s hall of fame member, and in 2004, he won the Roberto Clemente Award, an award given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual’s contribution to his team.”
Sorry Mike, I just don’t agree with you on that one.