The Drought, Part II: The 10 Most Underrated Mariners Since 2001 – First Five

SEATTLE - MARCH 31: Fans walk up to the stadium before the Seattle Mariners game against the Texas Rangers on March 31, 2008 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - MARCH 31: Fans walk up to the stadium before the Seattle Mariners game against the Texas Rangers on March 31, 2008 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /
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Often we tend to ignore the glimmer of light in the dark. The Mariners have caused us a lot of pain since 2001, but they’ve kept us watching. These are the players that made this drought a little easier to endure.

I recently touched upon the 10 worst Mariners players since their last playoff appearance in 2001. At the end, I promised that I would continue this series in a more positive light. Instead of simply flipping the last article on its head and looking at the 10 best players, I’ve decided to look at the most underrated players on these teams.

Why? Because the 10 best players for the Mariners in that time is predictable; Ichiro, Felix, Moyer, Cameron, Seager, Cruz, etc. I rather look at the players who, for better or worse, gave their all while flying under the radar.

While some of the players on this list are for how they performed on the field, some are for the True to the Blue.

Today, we’ll look at the first five players on my list, going from #10 to #6. But let’s start with who didn’t make the cut.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

1B/DH Dae-Ho Lee

ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 14: Dae-Ho Lee #10 of the Seattle Mariners reacts at the end of the seventh inning after he was hit in the head with a throw to first base against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 14: Dae-Ho Lee #10 of the Seattle Mariners reacts at the end of the seventh inning after he was hit in the head with a throw to first base against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

I love Dae-Ho so much. I think I can speak for all Mariners fans in saying that we all love Dae-Ho. How could you not?

I wanted to put him in this list so bad, but I just couldn’t justify it. Therefore, he gets an honorable mention.

The truth of the matter is, the Korean superstar’s success overseas just never fully translated to the MLB. That’s not to say he had a bad 2016 season with the Mariners, but it was full of ups and downs.

In the end, Dae-Ho slashed .253/.312/.428 while hitting 14 home runs. But due in part to his age, the Mariners just didn’t see a future with him for 2017 and beyond.

While it’s sad Dae-Ho is no longer a Mariner, he will forever have a special place in our hearts. We’ll always remember the joy he brought us that season, especially that time he stole Jake Diekman’s soul.

LHP Arthur Rhodes

BRONX, NY – OCTOBER 21: Pitcher Arthur Rhodes 53 of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during Game 4 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees on October 21, 2001 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. The Yankees won 3-1. (Photo by M. David Leeds/Getty Images)
BRONX, NY – OCTOBER 21: Pitcher Arthur Rhodes 53 of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during Game 4 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees on October 21, 2001 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. The Yankees won 3-1. (Photo by M. David Leeds/Getty Images) /

For many Mariners fans, Arthur Rhodes is best known for his earrings. For others, they knew him as one of the best relievers in Seattle Mariners history.

Rhodes spent the first eight years of his career with the Baltimore Orioles, but really made a name for himself in Seattle. Acquired in 2000 after a bad season in ’99, Rhodes quickly bounced back with a 1.6 WAR campaign with an even 10.00 K/9.

But this list is about Mariners players after the 116-win season in 2001. So, what did Rhodes do after that point? Oh, not much, except complete a 2.9 WAR season in 2002. That’s pretty insane, considering Rhodes only saved two games that entire year.

2003 wasn’t as great for Rhodes, which spelled his exit from Seattle. However, he would return to Safeco Field in 2008  after undergoing Tommy John surgery. For the first half of the season, Rhodes looked like the pitcher we saw in the early 2000s. His success resulted in him being involved in a Deadline deal to the Marlins later that year.

OF Leonys Martin

SEATTLE, WA – MAY 24: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners is doused by teammates after hitting a two-run walk-off homer to defeat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 at Safeco Field on May 24, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA – MAY 24: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners is doused by teammates after hitting a two-run walk-off homer to defeat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 at Safeco Field on May 24, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

The 2016 Mariners are my favorite Mariners team during this drought. I had so much fun watching this team play and Leonys Martin was at the center of it all.

Whether it be his walk-off against the A’s, or the one against the White Sox, or his game-saving catch against the Royals, Leonys gave us so many beautiful memories.

The Mariners gave up basically nothing to get Leonys from the Rangers, therefore making him a part of one of Jerry Dipoto’s best trades. Though Leonys’ offensive production took a dive in the second half of 2016, his first half cemented him as one of the more underrated Mariners in history.

It’s unfortunate that his offensive decline continued into the 2017 season, leading to his demotion to Tacoma early in the year. Though Leonys came back fairly strong later in the Summer, the Mariners just didn’t have a spot for him and sent him to the Chicago Cubs.

Now, Leonys is with the Tigers and has already accrued a 2.2 WAR. As Colby pointed out, the Mariners should look at reacquiring him in July.

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