Franklin Gutiérrez. Mention that name to a Mariners fan and if they’re anything like me, they’ll give a little sigh, and a little shrug. And a look will come across they’re face that says:
“Oh, what might have been.”
Franklin Gutiérrez was traded to the Seattle Mariners in December of 2008, coming off of a 2 WAR season with the Cleveland Indians. He played 134 games and put up a lamentable .305 wOBA. But his bat wasn’t the selling point. It was his glove. Gutiérrez was known as a shining defensive talent, and that’s why the Mariners wanted him.
And then in 2009 in his first full season with the club he made the front office look brilliant as he put it all together; his bat came alive and he posted a .335 wOBA and gave the M’s a 6 WAR season as their starting Center fielder.
More from Mariners News
- What if the Mariners traded FOR Tyler O’Neill this time?
- Mariners starting pitching is being overlooked by MLB
- Baking the Cake: An Adjusted Mariners Offseason Plan
- Taylor Trammell Could Provide Impact to 2023 Mariners
- What Jerry Dipoto’s trades, comments mean for remainder of Mariners offseason
Things regressed a bit for him in 2010; the high BABIP that helped drive his batting numbers in 2009 fell back to earth. He only managed a .293 wOBA, but his defense remained solid and he ended the year posting a 1.9 WAR.
And then 2011.
On March 29th he was placed on the 15-day DL with “stomach gastritis”. Returning in May only to be placed on the 60-day DL in September due to a strained oblique. Robbed of both playing time and health he managed only 92 games and a .239 wOBA on his way to a 1.1 WAR season.
And this was only the beginning.
In June of 2012 he hit the DL once again. This time the 7-day variety due to a concussion. But he was soon transferred to the 15-day, and eventually to the 60-day DL as his concussion symptoms lingered. He played only 40 games in 2012.
In 2013 a return of the gastrointestinal problems he suffered earlier, and a hamstring injury robbed him of playing time once again and he played in only 41 games.
And then last year just before spring training, word from Franklin that he would miss all of the 2014 season due to the chronic intestinal problems that he’d been suffering as well as a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (An inflammatory arthritis affecting his hips).
When he was healthy, flying around center field catching everything in sight it was just a joy to watch him play. Dave Niehaus, the venerable voice of the Mariners, gave him a nickname. Quite possibly the best nickname I’ve ever heard. Dave called him “Death to Flying Things”. It was great to have Franklin patrolling centerfield when he was healthy. And I rooted for him.
And then he wasn’t healthy. And he just didn’t look right out there. And it made me sad. And I still rooted for him. And the eternal optimist that resides in the heart of every baseball fan can’t help but imagine what he might have done in those 3 years lost to injury and ill health. What spectacular plays he would have made. Spectacular plays that we, the fans, were robbed of. We didn’t get to see them and it seems so unfair. To him, and to us.
So here it is. Spring training 2015. And a 32 year old Franklin Gutiérrez is back in camp with the Mariners. And hope springs eternal. And I’m rooting for him again.