Taylor’s post from a couple days ago got me thinking. Billy Butler is an under appreciated player outside of Kansas City. In fact, I’d be willing to bet there a lot of casual baseball fans out there who wouldn’t even recognize his name. I’ll admit, I didn’t realize he was as good with the bat as he was until reading Taylor’s post. So then I started thinking about former Mariners who’d fall into that same category.
John Olerud would seem to be the perfect fit into that category. Olerud was a first baseman who didn’t have the raw power that his position usually calls for, only topping the 20 HR mark 5 times in his 16 year career. He made up for with a high walk rate, lots of doubles, and playing excellent defense. UZR stats weren’t kept during Olerud’s prime years but in 2003 he had a UZR of 11.9 which is impressive. All together he was worth about 2 and half runs above a replacement player each year for most of his long career.
Dan Wilson is another player that I feel was under appreciated outside of Seattle. He’s a little more difficult to make a case for numerically. His OPS stayed in the .700’s for most of his career, but it did drop into the .600’s a couple times. Defensively he was solid though unspectacular. Interestingly, he only had 42 passed ball over his entire career, while Rob Johnson had 18 in just 61 games in 2010. I’m just saying… Wilson also had a reputation of being great with his pitchers, and was a leader in the clubhouse, two things that seem to be undervalued in today’s stats-orientated blogosphere. I guess what makes Wilson so important in my mind is how bad the M’s have been at catcher since he retired.
I’m sure there’s a lot of opinions on people I’ve missed. Please post them in the comments section so they can be included in later posts on this topic.
In the non-Mariners category, I’d like to throw out the name Alex Gonzalez. The short stop has never been above 3 WAR player before last season, but has been pretty solid defensively his entire career. His URZ was over 5 every year they’ve had that stat has been kept except for 2. Last season, fangraphs had his value at $13.2 million, which is pretty amazing for a guy who has a career OPS under .700. He might not be spectacular, but I don’t think I’m the only person who’d rather have Gonzalez instead of the fragile Jack Wilson at SS for the M’s.
Alex Gonzalez will always be tied to the Mariners in my mind for a reason I doubt anyone else remembers. When Alex Rodriguez first became a free agent, there was talk that the Mariners front office would rather have Gonzalez and Manny Ramirez, who combined would cost less than ARod. Manny eventually signed with Boston, and ARod with Texas, which left the M’s were left scrambling for some HR power so they signed Bret Boone instead of of the light hitting Gonzalez. How’s that for a random thing to remember?