With the news coming out on May 3rd of Ichiro transitioning into a non-player role for the Mariners, one question popped into my mind. Where does he rank in the top 5 Mariners of all time? Here is my Top 5.
Number 5: Randy Johnson.
Johnson played in Seattle from 1989-1998. During his 10 seasons with Seattle, he ranks second in Wins (130), tied for second in ERA (3.42) and second in strikeouts (2162). The Big Unit was a huge part of the Mariners success in the 90’s. He won a Cy Young Award in 1995. He was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.
Number 4. Felix Hernandez
The King has spent his entire career with the Mariners. He ranks first in Wins (164), first in ERA (3.23) and first in strikeouts (2375*). Felix has won one Cy Young Award back in 2010, winning only 13 games. Felix is still pitching, so he could obviously move up the list before he retires.
Number 3. Edgar Martinez
Edgar now serves as the Mariners hitting coach, and deservedly so. He is second in batting average (.312), second in home runs (309) and second in WAR (68.7). Edgar led the league in batting average in 1995 (.356) and finished 3rd in MVP voting. He spent his entire career with the Mariners, and will always be a fan favorite and Seattle icon.
Number 2. Ken Griffey Jr.
The kid started and finished his illustrious career here in Seattle. The Kid ranks first in home runs (417), first in WAR (70.6) and in hits (1843). He led the American League 4 times in home runs as a Mariner and won an MVP in 1997. Every kid that grew up a Mariners fan in the 90’s tried to replicate his swing, and he was everyone’s favorite player until a certain someone showed up.
Number 1. Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro came over already a superstar in Japan. He was 27 years of age as a rookie in 2001, and he took the league by storm. Ichiro won the AL Rookie of the year as well as the MVP in his rookie season and continued that dominance for years to come. Ichiro had 10 straight seasons with 200 hits, including his MLB record-breaking 262 hits in 2004. He also won 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards.
Ichiro brought a whole new fan base with him in 2001 from Japan. Seattle’s sister city is Tokyo, so the ground was already laid for superstardom. Every kid in my school seemed to have an Ichiro shirt, including myself. Although the team didn’t have too much success around him, you always new Ichiro was good for a Gold Glove and 200 hits.
Ichiro’s numbers are through the roof. He leads all Mariners players in hits (2542), batting average (.322), at-bats (7902), triples (79) and stolen bases (438). Those are just his numbers as a Mariner. Ichiro passed 300 hits in the MLB, and 4000 hits if you include his Japan numbers.
Ichiro’s hit total puts him at 22nd of all time, ahead of guys like Craig Biggio, Wade Boggs, and Roberto Clemente. He remains an international icon, and he just might be the best ever player to be least talked about, at least here in America. He did play 3 seasons in New York as a Yankee and 3 in Miami, but he was always a mariner at heart.
Ichiro will be in the Hall of Fame when he is first eligible, there is no question about that. His love for the game as like no other and his love for this team and this city is unmatched. While there may not have been too much success from him in 2018, every Mariner fan was excited for Opening Day this year to watch Ichiro return to the team he belonged to.
I may have been critical of the Mariners signing him in the first place, but man was it cool to see him back in a Mariners uniform.