For a team that has only existed for 31 years, the Seattle Mariners have featured more than their fair share of all-time baseball greats. My all-time Mariner lineup features three surefire future Hall of Famers, plus two more that have a great shot to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
One legend every six years or so isn't bad—and helps make up for the team never reaching the World Series.
The Mariners have also had quite a number of underachievers; players that routinely broke fans' hearts and were on the roster just to frustrate the Seattle faithful. I'll throw in a few (highly subjective) dishonorable mentions as well.
Catcher: Dan Wilson
Dan the Man played the most games by far at catcher for the Mariners (1,237) and even managed to fit in a little offensive success here and there. Wilson made the All-Star team in 1996 and finished the year with a career-high 18 homers and 83 RBI. In the Mariners' all-time ranks, he stands fourth in games played, sixth in hits, fifth in doubles, and eighth in RBI.
Dan was a class act all the way—not to mention I always liked hearing Salt-N-Pepa's "Whatta Man" when he came up to bat.
Honorable Mention: Dave Valle
Dishonorable Mention: Miguel Olivo. He came over in the Freddy Garcia trade as a good catching prospect but hit just .176 in parts of two seasons for the M's. What makes Olivo more irritating is that he hit .304 in 2005 immediately after being traded to San Diego and has had decent success in the years since.
1st Base: Alvin Davis
The man known as Mr. Mariner was Seattle's first baseball star, making the All-Star team and winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1984. Davis played eight largely successful seasons in Seattle as a power threat who hit for a solid batting average. His name is sprinkled liberally throughout the Mariners' record books, ranking in the top five in at bats, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, on-base percentage, and OPS.
Honorable Mention: John Olerud, Tino Martinez
Dishonorable Mention: Richie Sexson. Too soon? Sexson's ineptitude of the past year and a half completely negated the success of his first two years in Seattle. Anyone who prompts the Seattle fans to boo like they're Yankee fans must be doing something wrong.
2nd Base: Bret Boone
It's a tough choice between Boone and Harold Reynolds, who did play 352 more games in a Mariner uniform, but ultimately Boonie's outstanding performance in his Seattle years beat out Reynolds' off-and-on success over a longer period of time.
Boone ranks sixth in home runs, sixth in RBI, eighth in runs, fifth in slugging percentage, and eighth in OPS. He was a two-time All-Star, and his monster season of 2001 (.331, 37 homers, 141 RBI, 118 runs, 206 hits—all career highs) powered the Mariners to their incredible 116-win season.
Honorable Mention: Harold Reynolds, Joey Cora
Dishonorable Mention: No one stands out, really. Any suggestions?
3rd Base: Edgar Martinez
This is a somewhat questionable selection—not because of Edgar's contributions to the Mariners, but because he played three-quarters of his career as a DH.
That said, Martinez did play 563 games at third base (third-most for Seattle behind Jim Presley and Adrian Beltre), and his offensive stats cannot be denied. Let's see: first in games played, at bats, runs, hits, doubles, RBI, walks, on-base percentage...not to mention second in homers and batting average.
Martinez was a seven-time All-Star with 2,247 hits and a lifetime batting average of .312. Edgar is widely regarded as a test case for DHs making it into the Hall of Fame.
Honorable Mention: Jim Presley
Dishonorable Mention: Jeff Cirillo. It was a close call between Cirillo and Russ Davis (he had 69 errors at third base in four Seattle seasons, including 32 in 1998), but at least Davis hit 66 homers as well.
Cirillo joined the Mariners following years of success in Milwaukee and Colorado but immediately stunk it up, hitting just .249 his first year before bottoming out at .205 his second (and final) season in Seattle. Some players just don't succeed in Safeco Field, and Cirillo is a prime example.
Shortstop: Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod is the best shortstop in Mariner history by far despite just five full seasons in a Seattle uniform. In those five years, Alex was a four-time All-Star and finished second to Juan Gonzalez in the 1996 MVP voting by an impossibly narrow margin. Rodriguez's name litters the Mariners' record books: third in batting average, second in slugging and OPS, fourth in home runs, and fifth in runs and RBI.
Alex started his Mariner career consoling a despondent Joey Cora in 1995 and finished it reviled for signing his mega-contract with Texas. Hey, if anyone deserved the money, it was him.
Honorable Mention: Omar Vizquel
Dishonorable Mention: Carlos Guillen. This may a bit unfair, but Guillen's mediocre play in Seattle—combined with his stellar work in Detroit after being traded for a pittance—earns him this dubious distinction.
Guillen never hit more than .276 or had more than 56 RBI for Seattle, all while battling numerous injuries (tuberculosis?). Of course, the year after being traded, he made the All-Star team. Typical.
RF: Ichiro Suzuki
Randy Johnson. Ken Griffey Jr. Alex Rodriguez. These three superstars departed Seattle in consecutive years (1998-2000). How did the Mariners respond? They signed Ichiro, who sparked the Mariners to their best season ever in 2001, winning MVP and rookie of the year honors in the process.
Ichiro is five hits away from moving into second on the all-time Mariners' hits list after just seven-and-a-half years. He ranks first in triples and stolen bases and third in runs. He set the all-time MLB single-season hits record in 2004.
If you're wondering about a certain bald-headed slugger...bear with me. I'll get to him in a minute.
Honorable Mention: Other than the soon-to-be named career leader in games played in right field, no one.
Dishonorable Mention: I'm drawing a blank. Does less than a month qualify Brad Wilkerson?
CF: Ken Griffey Jr.
There's no doubt about this one. Griffey is the greatest Mariner of all-time; a superstar who revitalized Seattle sports and pushed the Mariners to playoff success. Griffey hit 398 homers in Seattle (tops in Mariners history) and ranks second in runs and RBI. He made the All-Star Game 10 straight times in a Seattle uniform, won the 1997 MVP award with 56 homers and 147 RBI, and put the Mariners on the map.
Griffey's time with the Mariners ended somewhat acrimoniously, but chances are he'll always be the best player in Mariners history. He will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Honorable Mention: Mike Cameron
Dishonorable Mention: Jeremy Reed. Reed was a highly touted prospect when he came over from the White Sox in the Freddy Garcia trade and tantalized Mariners fans by hitting .397 over 18 games in September 2004. Deemed the starting centerfielder for 2005, Reed hit just .254 for the season, and then struggled to a .217 mark halfway through 2006 before being banished to the minors.
Reed reappeared in Seattle this year and is hitting decently, so there is still hope for him to be the best product of the Garcia deal (though with Olivo and Mike Morse the other two prospects, that's not saying much).
LF: Raul Ibanez
Ibanez has actually played the most games at left field of anyone in Mariner history and is eighth in total games played for Seattle. For years the Mariners struggled to find somebody to consistently complete the outfield along with Griffey and Jay Buhner: Kevin Mitchell, Rich Amaral, Glenallen Hill, Brian Hunter, and so on... They had a good shot with Jose Cruz Jr., but we all know how that turned out.
In 2004 the Mariners brought Ibanez back, and he's provided a steady bat—if not a real steady glove. He ranks seventh all-time for the Mariners in home runs and RBI, plus ninth in runs scored and hits.
Honorable Mention: Phil Bradley. In five years with the M's (1983-1987), Bradley hit .301, scored 346 runs, stole 107 bases, and even made the All-Star team in '85. Not bad for a guy that I'd never heard of before today.
Dishonorable Mention: Al Martin, in yet another possibly unfair slight. Martin is another player who came to the M's as a successful major leaguer and immediately slumped for the duration of his career in Seattle.
Martin was a deadline day pickup for the Mariners in 2000 but hit just .231 down the stretch. He played a similarly ineffective season for Seattle in 2001. Nothing's as maddening as mediocrity from a supposedly talented player.
DH: Jay Buhner
Lame, I know, but I had to do it. I just couldn't leave Buhner off the team. Bone was the fire on the Mariners and a powerful part of the offensive juggernaut of the '90s. Buhner, third all-time in games played for Seattle, ranks third in home runs and RBI, as well as fourth in hits and runs scored. He possessed the cannon arm in right field before passing the torch to Ichiro.
Honorable Mention: Ken Phelps. He's the reason the Mariners got Jay Buhner. Thanks Ken!
Dishonorable Mention: Jose Vidro. Thank God that's over.
SP: Randy Johnson
The Big Unit is the best pitcher in Mariners history, if not technically the winningest. Johnson was the definition of the word dominant (after shrugging off the definition of the word "wild"—he does have the most wild pitches and walks in Mariners history). He leads the Mariners in ERA, winning percentage, strikeouts, and shutouts, and ranks second in wins and innings.
Johnson was a five-time All-Star and won the Cy Young in 1995, and he pitched the first no-hitter in Mariners history in 1990.
SP: Jamie Moyer
Moyer is the winningest pitcher in Mariners history, with 145, and also ranks first in innings pitched and walks per nine innings (the polar opposite of Johnson in walks and strikeouts). Yes, he did give up the most home runs in Mariners history, but that's more about longevity than ineffectiveness.
Moyer won 20 games in 2001 and 21 games in 2003 when, at 40 years old, he was the second-oldest All-Star in MLB history (Satchel Paige was 46).
Honorable Mention: Mark Langston, Freddy Garcia
Dishonorable Mention: Most of this year's starting rotation. Just kidding...kind of. How about Horacio Ramirez? 20 games, 7.16 ERA, 139 hits in 98 innings. How in the world did he finish with a winning record (8-7)?
RP: Kazuhiro Sasaki
Sasaki is the all-time saves leader for the Mariners with 129, 41 ahead of the next closest reliever. He pitched four seasons for the M's, three of which were quite strong and included the Rookie of the Year award and two All-Star appearances. Sasaki holds the single-season Seattle saves record with 45.
Honorable Mention: Mike Schooler
Dishonorable Mention: Bobby Ayala. He is sixth all-time in saves for Seattle, but I don't know that there's ever been a Mariner who filled fans with as much trepidation as Ayala did. 1998 numbers: 1-10 with a 7.29 ERA and nine blown saves. That's bad enough for me.
All stats from www.baseball-reference.com