Hans -Mount Rushmore of All-Time Great Seattle Mariners. Tough decisions to make in narrowing it down to four with the Mariners- Ken Griffey Jr, Ichiro, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Felix Hernandez- they are all worthy of a Mount Rushmore- who to knock off?
1- JUNIOR GRIFFEY- An easy choice as the Greatest Ever Mariners- he played his first eleven seasons in Seattle and came back and finished with them in his final two seasons. His seven best seasons in his 22 year career came as a Mariner. He didn’t age well- he left Seattle for Cincinnati at 30 and fought injuries off an on the rest of the way I think looking at the record he had one great year in his 30’s. As a Mariner though he was great. He was an all-star every year but his rookie season. A great all around player- he could do it all and was super exciting to watch. He led the league in home runs 4 times- hitting a career high 56 twice- there were never any steroid allegations about him. He won 9 Gold Gloves as a center fielder- he could steal bases. You have to wonder what kind of numbers he would have put up had he been healthy in his 30’s- as it was he finished with 630 career home runs, 1836 RBI and a career .284 average. At the turn of the century as he was leaving for Cincinnati I would have ranked him slightly ahead of Bonds. It makes me feel old to think I saw his father Ken break into the majors with the Reds in 1973, Junior play his entire career and go into the Hall of Fame and Junior’s son Trey is now on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad.
2. EDGAR MARTINEZ: Recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame- spent most of his career as a designated hitter due to in large part to tearing a hamstring early in his career. He got a late start- he was 27 by the time he finally got a starting job-played all 18 of his seasons in a Seattle uniform. Hit with power- 309 home runs and average .312 lifetime average with 2 batting championships. A 7 time all-star. Mariano Rivera has said that Martinez was the toughest hitter he ever faced.
3. ICHIRO SUZUKI- Another hitting machine who got a late start- he came over from Japan at the age of 27 and in his first year set the record for most hits in a season with 242. Like Junior Griffey his best years were as a Mariner. I took Martinez over Ichiro because of Martinez combined power-and average whereas Ichiro was an average hitter. Ichiro made the All-Star team the first ten seasons he played. He is like Rickey Henderson- they are going to have to tear the uniform off of his back. He should have retired years ago but this season at 45 he plans to play the first two games when the Mariners open the season in Japan. My two favorite players of the 21st century- Ichiro and Clayton Kershaw. Griffey and Martinez are the only two players to go into the Hall of Fame as Mariners- Ichiro will be the third whenever he becomes eligible. You have to wonder if he would have given Pete Rose’s hit record a run for the money had he come to America at say age 20 or 21. Even starting at 27 he got over 3000 hits.
4. RANDY JOHNSON- The Big Unit pitched 10 seasons with the Mariners and won a Cy Young Award and finished in the top four in the Cy Young voting 4 times as a Mariner. The Mariners best seasons were with Johnson as their ace. He won 130 lost 74 with a 3:42 ERA as a Mariner. Led the league in strikeouts four seasons in a row. At 6’10” and with a 100 MPH plus fastball one of the most intimidating pitchers of his or of any era.