Countdown to Opening Day: Top 50 Mariners Of All-Time
We are about 50 days away from Opening Day (my goodness that still seems like an eternity). To kill some time through Spring Training, we will take a look at the top 50 Mariners of all-time in five installments of ten players.
Hopefully some of these will bring some old, cherished Mariners memories back.
Disclaimer: this is based on my research and the following factors:
- Seasons spent with the Mariners
- Playing a part in a successful season
- Wins Above Replacement (WAR)
- All-Time Mariners Record Books
50. Ryan Franklin (1999, 2001-2005)
Franklin was a reliever turned starter for the Mariners. During the heralded 2001 season, he appeared in 38 games, posting a 3.56 ERA. He was drafted by the Mariners in 1992. He began starting for Seattle in 2002. His best year came a season later. He won 11 games with a 3.57 ERA in 212 innings. He had three consecutive 30+ start seasons from 2003-2005 and twice eclipsed 200 innings.
He appeared in 181 total games for the M’s in parts of six seasons. He accrued 35 wins and a 4.34 ERA as a Mariner.
49. Chris Bosio (1993-1996)
Bosio makes the list for basically one reason: the no-hitter he threw on April 22, 1993. He became the second Mariners pitcher to toss a no-no (the first one, you can imagine, is much higher on this list). Bosio pitched for four seasons in Seattle. His best year was that same 1993 season. He went 9-9 with a 3.45 ERA and 119 strikeouts. Those four years would be his last as he came to Seattle from the Brewers at age 30. He appeared in 97 total games for the Mariners.
48. Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000-2003)
After the 2001 season, I am sure many were convinced Sasaki would land much higher on this list. Sasaki was the closer for the Mariners’ historic 116-win 2001 season. He notched 45 saves with a 3.24 ERA. All four of his MLB seasons were in Seattle. He totaled 129 saves and a career 3.14 ERA. He also had 242 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings.
Unfortunately, he is most known for his collapse in the 2001 ALCS when he served up a walk-off home run to New York Yankees’ Alfonso Soriano, putting the Mariners in a 3-1 hole in that series from which they would never recover. He called it quits from Major League baseball after the 2003 season as the Mariners all-time saves leader. He still holds that title.
47. Richie Sexson (2005-2008)
Sexson came into Seattle with much fanfare. The Vancouver, WA native was signed as a free agent, two seasons removed from a 45-home run, 124-RBI campaign. An intimidating presence at 6’7″, he made an instant splash, homering twice in his first game in a Mariners uniform. He finished his first season with Seattle with 39 home runs and 121 RBI. Although his strikeout numbers were very high, he was fun to watch.
After his 2006 season (34 home runs, 107 RBI, .842 OPS), he went downhill fast. He didn’t finish the 2008 season as a Mariner, after posting a .221 average with 12 homers in 96 games. He finished his Mariners career with 105 home runs (10th all-time) and 321 RBI.
46. Mike Blowers (1992-1995, 1997, 1999)
Current Mariners fans know Blowers’ name as one of the voices of Seattle as a broadcaster. He played six seasons with the Mariners in the 90’s, as a corner infielder. His best Mariners season came in 1995, when he slugged a career-high 23 home runs with 96 RBI. He was part of the famous 1995 postseason run for the M’s. He had seven hits including a home run in those playoffs.
The Spanaway, WA native finished his Mariners career with 55 home runs, 69 doubles and a .270 average in 464 games.
45. Joey Cora (1995-1998)
Cora was also an intricate part in the Mariners’ 1995 run to the ALCS. In fact, he scored the tying run on perhaps the most famous play in Mariners’ history, the Edgar Martinez double in the bottom of the 11th in Game 5 of the Division Series. The 5’7″ Puerto Rican was Seattle’s everyday second basemen for a better part of four seasons.
His best year came in 1997. In his lone All-Star appearance, he hit 11 home runs, 40 doubles, hit .300 and walked more than he struck out. He was traded to the Indians in the summer of 1998. He totaled 600 hits and batted .293 in his 544 career games in a Mariners uniform.
44. Tino Martinez (1990-1995)
Most of the baseball world knows Martinez as a Yankee for their four World Series championships in five seasons. Some forget that he played his first six seasons in Seattle. Drafted 14th overall in 1988, the first baseman broke into the bigs in 1990. His best season with the Mariners was his last, in 1995. He mashed 31 home runs, drove in 111 runs and hit .293.
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Before he became a postseason mainstay for the Yankees, he hit .273 with a home run and five RBI in Seattle’s 1995 playoffs. He was traded to New York after that season and finished his Mariners career with 88 home runs, 106 doubles and 312 RBI. He went on to hit 339 career home runs.
43. Brian Holman (1989-1991)
Holman was drafted 16th overall by the Montreal Expos in 1983. Then the Mariners traded for Holman in 1989 and sent Mark Langston (we will see him later) to Montreal. Holman immediately became part of Seattle’s rotation.
Holman went on to average 10 wins, a 3.73 ERA and 104 strikeouts per year in three solid seasons. He posted a WAR (wins above replacement) of 8.0 when he was a Mariner. That is 17th best among all Mariners pitchers in team history.
42. Jeff Nelson (1992-1995, 2001-2003, 2005)
Like several others on this list, Nelson played a key role in the Mariners’ historic 2001 season. In fact, that was his lone All-Star season. As the setup man for Sasaki, he posted a 2.76 ERA in 69 games. He also had 88 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings.
He spent parts of eight seasons in Seattle in three stints, including both the 1995 and 2001 postseason runs. Aside from going over to the Yankees with Tino Martinez to win four rings, he appeared in 11 games and only allowed two earned runs in 14 total innings in Mariners playoff runs. Overall, he posted an 8.3 WAR in his time in Seattle.
41. J.J. Putz (2003-2008)
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Putz was one of the better closers in baseball for a few years. He broke into the big leagues with Seattle. He was an All-Star in 2007 when he notched 40 saves and an incredible 1.38 ERA. He was the 2007 Rolaids Relief Award winner. He also had 82 strikeouts in 71 innings.
An argument can be made for him to be higher on this list. Perhaps if he would have stayed for a year or two longer, that would be the case. But after a hiccup of a season in 2008, he was traded to the New York Mets in a three-team blockbuster that included names like Luis Valbuena, Jason Vargas and Endy Chavez. At the end of his Mariners career, he was second on the franchise saves list. He is currently 6th in games pitched in team history as well. After leaving Seattle, he had two more 30+ save seasons. He retired with 189 career saves. As a Mariner, he had a WAR of 8.4 (13th in franchise history).
Stay tuned for the next section of Mariners greats as we get closer to Spring Training on ECS!