The Seattle Mariners do not have a long and storied history in Major League Baseball as compared to other baseball franchises. However, they have had their moments in their relatively young history and they have certainly had some amazing players come through the Emerald City. Of course, many Mariner fans wish a few of them would have stayed around a bit longer and finished their career in Seattle. Unfortunately for baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest, baseball is still a business and it has not always been easy to keep superstars around. With that in mind, here are the top five greatest players to ever put on a Mariner uniform.
In 1987, the Seattle Mariners began their ascent to the upper echelon of Major League Baseball. This was the year that Ken Griffey Jr. was drafted, and in 1989 he made it to the show. Griffey was an instant fan favorite with his monster home runs, amazing catches, and trademark grin. After leaving Seattle in 2000, it was fitting that Junior would return in 2009 to gracefully end his career where it began. Junior finished his career with 630 home runs, and if not for a number of injuries, he might have been the all-time home run leader.
Many Mariner fans believe that Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame based on his prowess as a hitter. To be sure, Martinez was one of the most feared right-handed hitters during his prime and he had the distinction of playing his entire career in a Seattle uniform. Unfortunately, his Hall of Fame induction may not come to fruition due to injuries, a late start to his career, and his many games played as a designated hitter. However, Mariner fans will always remember “the double” in 1995 that beat the Yankees and arguably saved baseball in Seattle.
No one was quite sure how Ichiro Suzuki would perform when he came to the United States in 2001. People know now. As a 27-year-old rookie, Ichiro took Major League Baseball by storm by hitting .350 and racking up 242 hits. Since then, Ichiro has had at least 200 hits in each of his first nine seasons with the Mariners. Though still an active player, Ichiro shows no sign of slowing down. His consistent hitting and stellar defense make him one of the greatest Mariners to ever take the field.
Randy Johnson personified intimidation throughout his major league career. The fastball, scowl, and long hair caused many hitters to bail out of the batters box rather than deal with the “Big Unit.” Johnson spent almost nine seasons with the Mariners, and his best year was probably 1997 when he went 20-4 with 291 strikeouts. Randy is likely headed to the Hall of Fame after finishing his career with 308 wins and 4,875 strikeouts. Whether he goes into the Hall as a Mariner is yet to be determined.
Alex Rodriguez may finish his career as a member of the New York Yankees, and he may be known best for his exploits with the Bronx Bombers. However, A-Rod was drafted by the Mariners and spent his first seven seasons in Seattle. Mariner fans may not think fondly of Rodriguez, particularly since he left as a free agent and signed with division rival Texas for $252 million. However, there is no denying A-Rod’s talent and he will forever be linked to Mariner history. One of the best overall years of his career may still be his 1998 season with the M’s when he batted .310 with 42 home runs, 124 RBIs and 46 stolen bases.
Honorable mention: Harold Reynolds, Bret Boone, Jay Buhner, Alvin Davis, Tom Paciorek, Jamie Moyer, Mark Langston, Omar Vizquel