Part 2: #11-23
Welcome to the second part of my three part series “Top Mariners Players, Ranked by Jersey Numbers”. This list will start with future Hall of Famer, #11 Edgar Martinez, and end with #23 Nelson Cruz.
#11 – Edgar Martinez (1987-FOREVER)
How do I do Edgar justice? There are only so many words you can say about the greatest designated hitter of all time, before you’ve said all there is to say. When thinking about the positive influences that have shaped our organization, the usual suspects will come to mind: Griffey, Ichiro, Niehaus, Pinella, Hernandez. Edgar always seems to be an afterthought in the national light. Not to us in Seattle. He will never do any wrong. His value to this organization started as a player, but it has been increased as our current hitting coach. Former players will not always be the best coaches, but not Edgar. Edgar is good at everything. Cannot wait to see the impact he makes in his first full season as the Mariners hitting coach.
#12 Mark Langston (1984-1989)
Mark Langston was someone I never got to see play. He was drafted by the Mariners in 1981, making his major league debut in 1984 with a win over Milwakee. Six years of his 16 year major league career was spent with the Mariners. He was a second runner up for ROY in 1985, and dealt out over 200 SO in all seasons with the Mariners except 1985 and 1989. 1989 was the year he got traded to the Montreal Expos in exchange for RHP Brian Holman, Gene Harris and LHP Randy Johnson.
#13 – Omar Vizquel (1989-1993)
Omar Vizquel was another player that I never got to watch play. Usually in a case where I don’t know the players well, I go with the longest tenure at the number. It was between Vizquel and Dustin Ackley, and well, that band-aid of disappointment is still to new to rip off. I do not know much about Vizquel, just that the better of his 24-year long career were spent as a 9-time gold glove winning with the Cleveland Indians. His first gold glove was won in his last year with the Mariners in 1993. From what I know Vizquel was never a tremendous hitter, and his defense at short stop was some of the best. He just recently retired in 2012.
#14 – Lou Pinella
Oh Lou. You kicked and scream your way into the hearts of many in the Pacific Northwest, and for that, we thank you. As I wrote back in October, you are the ceiling as to how I have ranked all Mariners managers after you. I always find myself thinking “what would Lou done in that situation?”. He was the first Mariners skipper I ever knew, and for that I am eternally grateful. So grateful that I will even forgive you for being the spokesman for Shag. You can’t hit a homer unless you step up to the plate.
#15 – Kyle Seager (2011-current)
The Hawest of Corners and the K-Swag-iest of them all. Out homegrown guy. The one who took upon himself to extract himself from the mulches of Jack Zduriencik approved player development that doomed so many others. He somehow continues to improve his game every year, and he makes swears at Jarred Weaver. What a guy. Kyle also signed my ball at Spring Training this year, so you could say he propelled to the top of my list. He is rather loyal to Seattle, and for that we cannot ever give enough credit. Thanks for being ours, Kyle.
#16 – Willie Bloomquist (2002-2008)
It is hilarious that this is one of the only pictures I could find on google dot com with a picture of Willie in a #16 jersey. Willie most recently wore the #8, but that spot was taken already by Carlos Gullien. His first and longest stint with the Mariners was spent wearing the #16 jersey, so I deemed this the most appropriate place for the master of the Grit. Our Bremerton, WA darling spent 14 long years in MLB, defining the utility player role with the Mariners, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Mariners again. After being let go from the Mariners mid-2015, he recently retired via Twitter video. No one does it like you Willie.
#17 – Shigetoshi Hasegawa (2002-2008)
Shiggy played the last four years of his nine year MLB baseball career with the Mariners. His best year was 2003 where he earned his first and only All-Star appearance, and converted 16/17 saves in place of then injured closer Kazuhiro Sasaki. Shiggy is a part of a long history of the Mariners signing Japanese players (Ichiro, Kaz, Munenori Kawasaki, Hisashi Iwakuma, Nori Aoki). He was also teammate of Ichiro in both Japan and Seattle.
Honorable mention: Mike Blowers 1993-1995, 1997, 1999
#18 -Ryan Rowland-Smith (2007-2010)
The deciding factor in choosing Ryan Rowland-Smith over Kuma was the fact that we both share the hyphenated last name problem. No, really. The frustration that comes with filling out any legal document with two last names and an extra character, is unparalleled to us double namers. I find comfort in finding others that can empathize. Anyway, Rowland-Smith was fantastic in his first two years with Seattle. The lefty was both a starting pitcher and a reliever and had done well in both roles, never allowing above a 4 ERA. 2010 was a dreadful year for most Mariners, but especially my guy RRS. He allowed almost the same amount of free passes (3.62 K/BB) as he did strikeouts (4.03 K/9). That was just a crappy year and we’ll stop talking about it. Recently, RRS has returned to the Mariners in the roll of surprisingly charming radio cohost and guest color commentator in the booth. I wouldn’t mind hearing more of that accent throughout the season.
Honorable mention: Hisashi Iwakuma
#19 – Jay Buhner (1989-2001)
Jay Buhner is a lifer. He was apart of some of the best years for the Seattle Mariners franchise. His best playing years were 1995-1997. In those years he never hit less than 40 HRs and 100 RBI. 1996 was arguably his best year, slashing .271/.369/.557 (!) with a .926 OPS (!!). I don’t remember him terribly well from his playing years. My likeness toward him was developed because of his relaxed, goofball personality (dating back to the commercial days) and his presence with the organization throughout the years. I’ve gotten a chance to say hello to him every Spring Training, see him present at every Mariners HOF induction ceremony and watch him shake hands with people every FanFest. The Bone will always remain a prevalent figure in Seattle.
#20 – J.J PUTZ (2003-2008)
I will always rock out to Thunderstruck differently because of J.J Putz. For awhile, hearing that “dunununununun THUN-DA” evoked the happiest of memories. It was a precursor of the assumed good things that were about to happen in the top of any given 9th inning. JJ Putz was dang near untouchable in 2006 and 2007. Looking at the numbers made me double take a few hundred times. Just to take a quick glance at 2007: .70 WHIP, 2.67 FIP with 82 SO/71.2 IP. 2006 his produced a CRAZY FIP of 1.73, .92 WHIP, with 104 SO/78.1IP. He was slightly more efficient in 2007, but his best WAR season was 2006 (3.4).
#21 – Alvin Davis (1985-1991) + Franklin Gutierrez (2009-2013, 2016-)
Alvin Davis is Mr. Mariner, so I could not leave him off this list. That would be silly. In 1984 when he won Rookie of the year with 96% of the votes. The other 4%? Mark Langston. Out of the 1,206 games he played in professional baseball, 1,166 of them were played in a Mariners uniform. There is no denying that he was special to the franchise, but I don’t have any personal memories of him. He played in last game as a Mariner before I was born (I know I know), so that is why he ties with Guti.
Franklin Gutierrez has spent the better part of the past three years starving off every type of sickness you wish you had never heard of. He came back with vengeance in 2015, hitting 15 home runs in less than 200 plate appearances, including a tear inducing walk-off on June 26th. Maybe you’ve seen it? While he wore #30 last year, he is returning to the #21 this year. He returns to his rightful place this season. Full of health, confidence, and most importantly a top spot on everyone’s baseball handsome list. My goodness that man is beautiful.
#22 – Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000-2003)
Considering #22 Robinson Cano is going to be this year’s AL MVP, you may be wondering why I put Kaz at the top for #22. Robbie is a dreamboat, but on the mound, Kaz was the man. He was the 2000 AL Rookie of the Year with 74% of the votes and a two time All-Star in his 3.5 seasons with Seattle. In 2001, he notched 45 saves and the only reason he did not lead the league that year is because he was alive at the same time as Mariano Rivera. No one could mess with the back of the Mariners bullpen in those years.
Honorable mention: Robinson Cano
#23 – Nelson Cruz
Our enigmatic, philanthropic, perfectly manicured browed, slugger comes in at the top of my list for #23. Not only is Nelson Cruz perfectly charming, he has proved himself to be one heck of a ballplayer. I was justifiably cautious of the Mariners signing a 35-year-old power hitter last off season, in an attempt to follow the home run or bust plan that Jack Z was married to. Nelson Cruz proved me wrong. I do not want to even think about what numbers the Mariners offense would have turned in without his help last season.