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Clear choices for Seattle foursome
MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
We believe that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Seattle Mariners Mt. Rushmore
In 37 years of existence, the Seattle Mariners have enjoyed very little success, although the franchise can claim the most single-season wins by any team — 116 in 2001 — since the M’s joined the American League in 1977. There have been just four postseason appearances, and the Mariners have never reached the World Series. The signature moment for the franchise is Ken Griffey, Jr. racing home from first base with the winning run on an Edgar Martinez double to give the 1995 team the first playoff series win in franchise history. The Mariners overcame a two-games-to-none deficit to defeat the Yankees 6-5 in 11 innings to win the series in five games. This is clearly the simplest selection process of any of the Mt. Rushmores.
From the time he was selected No. 1 overall in the 1988 draft out of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, the kid with the broad grin and hat on backwards became a favorite son in Seattle. On the field during his 11 seasons as a Mariner he hit 398 home runs, scored 1,063 runs and drove home 1,152. He was named AL MVP in 1997 when he hit 56 homers and had 147 RBIs. He finished in the top 5 in MVP voting another four times and had two more top 10 finishes. He made 10 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Gloves.
Having spent his entire 18 seasons in Seattle, Martinez became the face of the franchise once Ken Griffey was traded to Cincinnati. In the 12 seasons in which he had as many as 500 plate appearances, Martinez batted better than .300 10 times and topped .320 seven times. For his career he batted .312, had an on-base percentage of .418 and slugged .515. He finished third in MVP voting in 1995 after leading the American League with a .356 average, a .479 on-base percentage, 52 doubles, 121 runs and a 1.107 OPS. He ranks first in franchise history in games, runs, RBIs and total bases.
Since coming to America at the ripe age of 27 back in 2001, Ichiro has been known by one name and for his complete game as a player. During his 11-plus seasons in Seattle, he batted .322 with 2,533 hits, 1,176 runs and 438 steals. He made 10 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves and was named both MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2001 after winning the first of two batting titles and leading the AL with 56 stolen bases.
The Big Unit launched his career with the Mariners after a trade from the Expos in 1989. He won four strikeout titles and an ERA title while in Seattle. He surrounded an injury-plagued 1996 season when he went 5-0 with 18-2 and 20-4 seasons. Johnson had four top-3 finishes in the Cy Young race including a win in 1995 when he finished sixth in MVP voting.
Manager Lou Piniella guided the team to its only four postseason appearances including the record 116-win season in 2001.
Current ace Felix Hernandez is moving up the pecking order, but hasn’t been around quite long enough yet.
Alvin Davis spent just eight seasons in Seattle, but he was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1984 and received MVP votes in ’84 and ’89.
Alex Rodriguez didn’t endear himself to fans in Seattle when he left town in 2001, but from 1996-2000 he averaged .315-37-115 with 122 runs, 25 steals and a .956 OPS.
Jamie Moyer is the all-time leader with 145 wins for the M’s and owns two of the franchise’s three 20-win seasons.
Best Current Player
No doubt that Hernandez will be among the four greatest Mariners before his current contract is up.