The 9 greatest players in Seattle Mariners history
When the Seattle Mariners signed Adrián Beltré to a five-year/$64 million deal ahead of the 2005 season, they thought that they were landing a superstar third baseman.
As it turns out, they were landing one of the best players in the history of the hot corner, but that's a legacy that Beltré would build largely with the division-rival Texas Rangers later in his career.
In 2004, Beltré's final season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he finished runner-up to Barry Bonds in National League MVP voting, homering 48 times and posting a staggering 9.7 fWAR. Considering they signed him before his age-26 season, the Mariners had seemingly put themselves in position to employ Beltré during his peak seasons.
But for as sound as that logic was, Beltré was good, not great during the half decade that he spent playing his home games at what was then called Safeco Field. Across five seasons with the Mariners, Beltré slashed .266/.317/.442 with 103 home runs and a .759 OPS. While Beltré won two Gold Glove Awards as a Mariner, he didn't make a single All-Star team in five seasons with the team.
Beltré turned out to be the rare position player that was significantly better in his early-30s than his late-20s. After reviving his career with the Boston Red Sox in 2010, Beltré signed a five-year/$80 million deal with the American League West team he'd become most associated with, the Rangers.
Following a relatively disappointing tenure in Seattle, Beltré turned in Hall of Fame-caliber production the next five seasons, slashing .316/.364/.535 with 145 home runs and an .899 OPS. Beltré spent the final eight seasons of his career in Arlington, and has since had his No. 29 retired by the Rangers. When he's elected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2024, Beltré's Hall of Fame plaque will almost certainly have him wearing a Rangers cap. In some senses, you're left to ponder why he couldn't sniff the same level of success during his five seasons with the Mariners.
Nonetheless, the Mariners organization has produced some of the best players of the last 30 years, many of whom cracked our list of the nine greatest players in Mariners history:
9. Jamie Moyer (1996-2006)
Best Season as a Mariner: 1998 - 15-9 with a 3.53 ERA, 129 ERA+, 3.73 FIP, 1.178 WHIP, 158 strikeouts, four complete games and 5.2 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: 145-87 with 3.97 ERA, 112 ERA+, 4.38 FIP, 1.254 WHIP, 1,239 strikeouts, 20 complete games and 30.3 fWAR
Moyer certainly wasn't going to overpower you like Roger Clemens, but he's someone who had a sustained career as an innings eater, the peak of which came during the parts of 11 seasons he spent with the Mariners. In the nine full seasons that Moyer pitched in Seattle, he threw 200 or more innings on seven occasions. As a Mariner, Moyer finished sixth or better in American League Cy Young voting on three occasions, topping out at fourth place in 2001.
8. Jay Buhner (1988-2001)
Best Season as a Mariner: 1996 - .271/.369/.557 with 44 home runs, 138 RBIs, 84 walks, .926 OPS, 131 OPS+ and a 3.7 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: .255/.360/.497 with 307 home runs, 951 RBIs, 788 walks, 1,255 hits, .857 OPS, 125 OPS+ and 22.1 fWAR
The Mariners acquired Buhner is a trade with the New York Yankees during the 1988 season, and he rewarded them by hitting dingers for nearly a decade and a half. Buhner was going to strike out his fair share and was hardly a Gold Glove defender, but between 1995 and 1997, he was a run producing machine, homering 124 times and driving in 368 runs. Over that three-year stretch, Buhner was third in baseball in home runs, and sixth in RBIs. The 307 home runs that Buhner hit as a Mariner are third in franchise history.
7. Kyle Seager (2011-2021)
Best Season as a Mariner: 2016 - .278/.359/.499 with 30 home runs, 99 RBIs, 69 walks, .859 OPS, 133 OPS+ and a 5.2 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: .251/.321/.442 with 242 home runs, 807 RBIs, 533 walks, 1,395 hits, .763 OPS, 112 OPS+ and 34.8 fWAR
Seager recently wrapped up an 11-year career spent exclusively in Seattle. If you exclude him playing 53 games in his rookie year of 2011 and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Seager hit at least 20 home runs in all nine of his full seasons at the major league level. On two occasions, he hit 30 or more, including setting career highs with 35 home runs and 101 RBIs in 2021, which turned out to be the final season of his career. Seager's 242 career home runs are fourth in franchise history.
6. Alex Rodriguez (1994-2000)
Best Season as a Mariner: 1996 - .358/.414/.631 with 36 home runs, 123 RBIs, 59 walks, 1.045 OPS, 161 OPS+ and a 9.2 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: .309/.374/.561 with 189 home runs, 595 RBIs, 966 hits, .934 OPS, 138 OPS+ and 35 fWAR
The No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 MLB Draft, Rodriguez made his major league debut at age 18 and was a superstar by his age-20 season. Though he'd win most of his major awards playing with the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, Rodriguez led baseball in batting average, hits, doubles, total bases and runs scored at least once during his time in Seattle. As a Mariner, Rodriguez made four All-Star Game appearances and won four Silver Slugger Awards as the best offensive shortstop in the American League.
5. Félix Hernández (2005-2019)
Best Season as a Mariner: 2010 - 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA, 174 ERA+, 3.04 FIP, 1.057 WHIP, 232 strikeouts, six complete games and a 6.7 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: 169-136 with a 3.42 ERA, 117 ERA+, 3.52 FIP, 1.206 WHIP, 2,524 strikeouts, 25 complete games and 54.0 fWAR
Between 2009 and 2014, "King Felix" posted a 37.2 fWAR, trailing only Clayton Kershaw and topping the likes of Justin Verlander, Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels. Over the course of a 15-year career spent entirely with the Mariners, Hernández finished in the top 10 in American League Cy Young Award voting on six occasions, including winning the award in 2010 with a 13-12 record that essentially signaled that voters had moved beyond using pitcher wins and losses as a key metric in determining dominance. On Aug. 15, 2012, Hernández threw the first -- and to this point, only -- perfect game in franchise history.
4. Randy Johnson (1989-1999)
Best Season as a Mariner: 1995 - 18-2 with a 2.48 ERA, 193 ERA+, 2.08 FIP, 1.045 WHIP, 294 strikeouts, six complete games and a 9.5 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: 130-74 with a 3.42 ERA, 128 ERA+, 3.34 FIP, 1.250 WHIP, 2,162 strikeouts, 51 complete games and 42.3 fWAR
Johnson's absolute peak came as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the largest chunk of his illustrious career (parts of 10 seasons) took place in Seattle. Johnson made five All-Star teams as a member of the Mariners, and finished third or better in American League Cy Young Award voting four different times during his years in Seattle. Johnson tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history on June 2, 1990, and became the first Mariner to win the AL Cy Young Award in 1995. The 19 complete-game shutouts that Johnson tossed during his time in Seattle are a franchise record, one that will probably never be broken.
3. Edgar Martinez (1987-2004)
Best Season as a Mariner: 1995 - .356/.479/.628 with 29 home runs, 113 RBIs, 116 walks, 1.107 OPS, 185 OPS+ and a 7.0 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: .312/.418/.515 with 309 home runs, 1,261 RBIs, 1,283 walks, 2,247 hits, .933 OPS, 147 OPS+ and 65.5 fWAR
Perhaps the greatest DH in MLB history, Martinez spent all 18 seasons of his Hall of Fame career as a member of the Mariners. During that time, Martinez led baseball in RBIs and OPS on one occasion, doubles and batting average in two different seasons and on-base percentage three different times. Martinez -- whose 309 career home runs are second in franchise history -- had his No. 11 retired by the Mariners during the 2017 season.
2. Ichiro Suzuki (2001-2012; 2018-2019)
Best Season as a Mariner: 2004 - .372/.414/.455 with eight home runs, 60 RBIs, 49 walks, .869 OPS, 130 OPS+ and a 7.1 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: .321/.365/.416 with 99 home runs, 633 RBIs, 517 walks, 2,542 hits, .781 OPS, 113 OPS+ and 55.2 fWAR
Ichiro didn't come to Major League Baseball until his age-27 season, but he wasted no time building an incredible legacy. For a Mariners team that won an American League-record 116 games in 2001, Ichiro was an All-Star, while winning a Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award, American League Rookie of the Year and American League MVP. Ichiro is the franchise leader in career stolen bases (438), batting average (.321), singles (2,069), triples (79) and hits (2,542). Ichiro is a lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2025, and it would be shocking if his No. 51 isn't eventually retired by the Mariners.
1. Ken Griffey Jr. (1989-1999; 2009-2010)
Best Season as a Mariner: 1997 - .304/.382/.646 with 56 home runs, 147 RBIs, 76 walks, 1.028 OPS, 165 OPS+ and a 9.0 fWAR
Career Stats as a Mariner: .292/.374/.553 with 417 home runs, 1,216 RBIs, 819 walks, 1,843 hits, .927 OPS, 144 OPS+ and 67.8 fWAR
The Mariners selected Griffey Jr. with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 MLB Draft, and that decision proved to be the greatest transaction in franchise history. In parts of 13 seasons with the Mariners, Griffey hit a franchise record 417 home runs, leading baseball in home runs during the 1994, 1997, 1998 and 1999 seasons. Even as many other players used performance-enhancing drugs during the 1990s, Griffey -- who, by all accounts, was clean -- finished second in home runs (382), RBIs (1,091) and fWAR (66.0) during the decade. During his time as a Mariner, Griffey made 10 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Glove Awards, won seven Silver Slugger Awards and the 1997 American League MVP. Griffey went into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2016 as a Mariner, and had his No. 24 retired by the organization that same summer.