And yes, there is more than one.
Edgar Martínez heads the list of four Hall of Fame candidates in the 2013 race for induction, four players who once graced a Mariners lineup and whom, aside from Gar, we have largely forgotten about: Jose Mesa, Aaron Sele, and Jeff Cirillo.
First, there is Edgar. Statistically speaking, he is one of the greatest hitters in Mariners history, with a career batting line of .312/.418/.515 and 64.4 bWAR over 18 major league seasons in Seattle. He propelled the ’95 team to the most memorable playoff run in franchise history, leading MLB in games played (145), OBP (.479), OPS (1.107), OPS+ (185), doubles (52), and Doubles (1). Following his retirement in 2004, the Mariners commemorated his accomplishments with Edgar Martínez Drive, a spot in the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame, and now, a restaurant overlooking left field.
Unlike Martínez, the next three Mariners were neither as beloved or as long-tenured. Right-handed reliever Jose Mesa arrived in 1999, recording a 5.18 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, and 34 saves (33 in 1999, 1 in 2000) over two brief seasons in Seattle. When Googled, his name returns the saddest of apology letters, penned by a Seattle Times writer in the fall of 2000:
“You know how people who fear riding in elevators can get over their fear by spending hours in them, riding up and down and discovering nothing bad happens?
That’s kind of what it has been like for Seattle baseball fans this year. It has taken a while to realize how good you guys are. It has taken all of these months to get over this “Pen”-aphobia.
You muted the boos with your resolve. You silenced your critics with your heat. You won over a city that had left you for dead.
Seattle owes you and, my guess is, you will hear its gratitude the first time Piniella calls on you at home in the American League Championship Series.”
Mesa was called upon during the 2000 ALCS, though not with the resolve and heat Steve Kelley had suggested. Over 4.1 innings of relief, he delivered five hits, six earned runs, and three walks to the New York Yankees, who clinched the series in six games and later won their 26th World Series championship.
Aaron Sele, another right-handed pitcher and Washington native, signed on with the Mariners as Jose packed his bags for Philadelphia. Aaron made a favorable impression in his first round with the Mariners, posting a 32-15 record, three shutouts, and, in 2001, his lowest ERA (3.60) in six seasons. Upon returning to Seattle in 2005, however, his performance plummeted to a career-low of 12 losses and a 5.66 ERA. As Bob Finnigan captioned the starter’s decline: “Sele Gets Thumped, Mariners Dumped.”
Between the rollercoaster of Sele’s starts, one final Hall of Fame candidate made a mark in Mariners’ history: third baseman Jeff Cirillo. It’s probably not a good sign that the most recent article bearing Cirillo’s name compares him to the recently-removed Chone Figgins:
“As a Mariner, Cirillo posted a 64 OPS+, and he went from disappointing to booed to benched. As a Mariner, Figgins has posted a 68 OPS+, and he’s gone from disappointing to booed to benched.”
The comparison is not far off. Of Seattle’s third basemen, Jeff’s .234/.295/.308 batting line falls near the bottom of the list, only slightly better than Chone’s .227/.302/.283. However paltry his offensive contributions, Jeff made an impact with his glove, finishing fourth among third basemen in 2002 with an 11.1 UZR. In 2003, his UZR dropped to just 1.4.
Thankfully, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America takes far more into account when evaluating Hall of Fame nominees than the size of their contributions to the Seattle Mariners. For more information on this year’s candidates, check out the full ballot at Baseball-Reference.com. And, if you’re interested in furthering Edgar Martínez’s HoF campaign, stop by his Facebook page or use the hashtag #EdgarHOF on Twitter.
Statistics provided by Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.