Former Seattle Mariners Well Represented In Championship Series

Sep 20, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Michael Saunders (21) runs the bases after hitting a two-run homer against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Michael Saunders (21) runs the bases after hitting a two-run homer against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Are you still saddened that the Seattle Mariners didn’t make the playoffs for the fifteenth straight year? Well, remember this: the spirit of the Mariners lives on mostly with the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series. There are five former Mariners on the Blue Jays this season. We breakdown how they got there and what they did when they were with the M’s.

Over the years the Mariners have had to part with many players. Some have been more missed than others, but we cannot forget that they were once part of the Mariners organization.

Whether they were sent packing in a trade or the M’s let them sit on waivers to be picked up by other clubs, each of these players were seen as expendable, and not part of the Mariners future plans.

Here is where each of these players are today. Hopefully each of them can make Seattle fans regret watching them leave, if they didn’t already.

Blue Jays Batters

The Blue Jays have benefited greatly from former M’s bats. They now have two players on their roster that used to smash at Safeco Field.

The Jays have used Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak in the best ways possible to help them advance all the way to the Championship Series.

We should start with one of the Mariners biggest regrets in the last several years, Michael Saunders. In 2014 the M’s traded Saunders to the Blue Jays for J.A Happ. Saunders had spent ten years with the M’s between the majors and the minors, and there was a lot of promise in his play.

Saunders had decent years with the Mariners in 2012 and 2013, but his power numbers and batting average weren’t as good as they could have been. He had nineteen and twelve home runs respectively those years and batted around .240 in each of those seasons.

His stats this year weren’t that much better, but they were higher. His .253 average this season with the Blue Jays is a career high when he features in at least one hundred games. He also set a career-high in home runs with twenty-four and tied his 2012 RBI-high of fifty-seven. He also drew a career-high fifty-nine walks.

It’s fair to say the Mariners could’ve used these type of numbers in their run to the playoffs. Yet, It is good to see that the former Mariners prospect is excelling on the greatest stage.

Now for the other fielding player, Justin Smoak, who actually had his best years when he was with the Mariners.

Smoak always managed at least fifteen homers and fifty RBI in three straight years with the Mariners, although he never batted over .240. After those three season (five in total) with the M’s, the team decided to place him on waivers, and he was snatched up by the Blue Jays.

Since joining the Jays, he has had some high moments but has actually had worse numbers in two seasons since joining the club. In each year he hasn’t bated over .230 and he hasn’t surpassed his two best homer years of nineteen and twenty dingers respectively in 2012 and 2013.

The one area where he has set a new career-high is with his RBI. In 2015 Smoak set a personal best of fifty-nine RBI.

In the ALDS we saw a little from each of these men, but who knows how they will both factor in the ALCS.

Blue Jays Pitchers

The Jays have two former Mariners pitchers on the roster for the ALCS and one resting his injury. One is a twenty-game winning starter in J.A. Happ. The others are relievers Joaquin Benoit and R.A. Dickey.

Happ has been a complete stud this season. His 20-4 record and 3.18 ERA speaks for itself, but his one hundred and sixty-three strikeouts and 1.169 WHIP have also been very good.

Happ continued his success in game two of the ALDS last week. In that game against the Texas Rangers, Happ scattered nine hits over five innings, allowing just one run. He also struck out five batters.

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The Mariners wish they could have had this Happ back in the first half of 2015. During his short stint with the M’s, Happ put up a mediocre 4-6 record and an ERA of 4.64. It was of course those types of numbers and others that made the M’s want to send him packing at the trade deadline.

Happ had half as many strikeouts in 2015 with the M’s as he did in 2016 with the Jays. He played only ten fewer games in Seattle, but those numbers as far apart. Also, his WHIP of 1.408 with the Mariners was his highest since 2007. In that year Happ had one start. So, to compare the two isn’t even fair.

As for R.A Dickey, the Mariners just missed the boat with him. A few years after his miserable 5-8 year in 2008 with the M’s where he had an ERA of 5.21, the Mariners put him on waivers.

We all know he would later win the Cy young with the Mets and then continue to dominant once with the Blue Jays.

Dickey was slightly off his game this season. He watched his ERA sky-rocket back to 4.46, but more importantly, he has battled injuries toward the end of the year.

Tightness in his groin has held him back from being an assertive force in the post season this far, but he is recovering, and the Jays expect big things from a healthy Dickey as their series with the Cleveland Indians continues.

He will be playing a bullpen role most likely, but the Jays haven’t chosen a game five starter (if necessary). Could this be an October surprise? Probably not, but expect to see something from him.

The same cannot be said for bullpen artist Joaquin Benoit. He has been ruled out from the entire ALCS by manager, John Gibbons. Benoit has suffered from a calf strain for nearly a month, and is still working his way back to fitness.

The Mariners swapped Benoit for Drew Storen in the middle of the year, and that deal seems to have worked out for both sides. Each pitcher has fared well with their respective teams. Although, Benoit has been exceptional with the Jays.

In twenty-five appearnces for the Blue Jays, Benoit has an ERA of 0.38. He has allowed one run in over twenty-three innings of work for the Jays. He allowed that run back on September 11th. That’s quiet a stretch.

With the Mariners, Benoit struggled. He had an ERA over 5.00 and he allowed multiple runs in five separate outings.

Next: Early Fall League Update Part Two

Whatever happens for these men during the rest of the ALCS -and possibly the World Series- the Mariners can know that these men once donned their jersey. As fans of the former players, we should all hope that they succeed on this massive stage.