Mariners Shortstop Bigger Than Life? Past, Present and Future

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 28: Jean Segura #2 of the Seattle Mariners watches the ball fly to right field, which would be dropped on an error by Nomar Mazara #30 of the Texas Rangers to score three in the second inning at Safeco Field on September 28, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 28: Jean Segura #2 of the Seattle Mariners watches the ball fly to right field, which would be dropped on an error by Nomar Mazara #30 of the Texas Rangers to score three in the second inning at Safeco Field on September 28, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners have had some pretty good shortstops over the years even though they have had some duds as well.

The first shortstop the Mariners had in their franchise was Craig Reynolds who had a solid time in his two years with Seattle. He wasn’t considered a power hitter like a future shortstop for the Mariners in Alex Rodriguez.

His first season, he hit .248 with four home runs however in 1978 he made the all-star team like the Mariners the only representative. His batting increased to .292. Besides hitting well the second season he was able to move runners along.

After 1978, Reynolds was traded to the Houston Astros. He finished his career with the Astros over 11 seasons. The Mariners traded him for left-handed starting pitcher Floyd Bannister who grew up in the Seattle area.

Next shortstop on the scene certainly didn’t match up to Craig Reynolds or for that matter shortstop the Mariners have had. The next guy playing in 1979 and 80 was someone not known for his bat for sure. The Mariners had Mario Mendoza at shortstop. He was adequate in the field however he hit .198 in 1979 and .245 in 1980. He went on to finish his career the next two years with divisional rival the Texas Rangers.

The next Mariners shortstop was Jim Anderson. He wasn’t much better than Mendoza though he did hit 8 home runs and drive in 30 runs in 1980. In 1981 he played shortstop along with Rick Auerbach. It was a strike year in baseball. 1981 was Auerbach’s last year in majors. He batted .155 in 96 plate appearances.

The Mariners acquired their first power-hitting shortstop before the 1982 season, acquiring Todd Cruz from the Chicago White Sox. Cruz didn’t have a high batting average going .230 but had 16 home runs. The next season he started with Seattle however they traded him to the Baltimore Orioles in June.

Spike Owens the Mariners drafted in the first round of 1982 out of University of Texas at Austin made his debut against the Toronto Jays on June 25, 1983. He didn’t hit well his rookie season batting .196 however he was popular with the fans. He was the Mariners regular shortstop until August 19, 1986, when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox along with another player center fielder Dave Henderson who was the very first player drafted in the history of the Mariners in 1977. In the trade, the Mariners acquired Rey Quinones along with two players, and a player to be named later.

Spike Owens though he had little power he played great defense for the Mariners between June 1983 and August 1986. In 1984 he hit .245 followed by .259 in 1985 and when he was traded in 1986 he was batting .246. His on-base percentage was good being over .300 in those three years.

Rey Quinones took over the shortstop position when traded to the Mariners in August of 1986. He batted only .189 in 131 plate appearances that year however he had a solid season for the Mariners in 1987 where he hit .276 with 12 home runs. In 1988 he hit for a lower average .248 but had 12 home runs once again. He started 1989 with the Mariners however was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates after seven games.

Omar Vizquel one of the great all-time fielding shortstops made his major league debut for Seattle on April 3, 1989. During the 1989 season, he hit .220 for the Mariners however he made himself into a good hitter. He played in the major leagues for 24 seasons. His best year hitting for the Mariners was 1992 when hit .294. His last year with the Mariners was 1993 where he won his first gold glove.

He had 11 gold gloves in his career including 9 straight. After the 1993 season, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Felix Fermin, outfielder Reggie Jefferson, and cash. The main reason the Mariners traded Vizquel was that of a young shortstop they drafted first overall in 1993 named Alex Rodriguez.

Felix Fermin was the Mariners starting shortstop in 1994 and 1995 before Alex Rodriguez. Fermin had a solid 1994 hitting .317 for the Mariners however in 1995 he hit only .195. He was released by the Mariners before 1989.

Alex Rodriguez had made his major league debut in 1994 at the age of 18. He made 59 plate appearances that year and then in 1995 he had 149 plate appearances. This was the same year the Mariners made their first appearance in the postseason beating the New York Yankees then losing to the Cleveland Indians in American League Championship Series.

In 1996 A-Rod as he was called hit .358 in his first full season in the major leagues. He had 36 home runs and drove in 123 runs. In 1997 he hit .300 however his power numbers were down but 1998 thru 2000 he hit over 40 home runs and drove in over one hundred runs.

After the 2000 season, Alex Rodriguez signed the largest contract in baseball history at the time 10 years for $252 million by the Texas Rangers.  I am sure most Mariner fans thought what we will do without him at shortstop however in 2001 the Mariners won 116 games. Every time he visited Seattle the fans would boo him.  The five years A-Rod was with the Mariners were the best ever by a Mariner shortstop.

After A-Rod left Carlos Guillen became the shortstop. The Mariners acquired Guillen along with pitchers Freddie Garcia and John Halama on July 31, 1998, from the Houston Astros for Randy Johnson.

Carlos Guillen appeared in 10 games for the Mariners after the trade in 1998. In 1999 he appeared only in five games. In 2000 he played in 90 games for the Mariners with 68 at third base. He hit for a batting average of .257. In 2001 and 2002 he played all his time at shortstop hitting .259 and .261.

In 2003 Guillen played in 109 games being injured the remaining time of the season. He played shortstop for 76 games while at third base the remaining games he hit a solid .276. After the 2003 season, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for infielder Ramon Santiago and minor leaguer Juan Gonzales. He had some solid years playing for the Detroit Tigers.

In 2003 the Mariners acquired veteran shortstop Rey Sanchez from the New York Mets at the trading deadline. He played in 46 games for the Mariners hitting .294. He became a free agent after the season and signed with Tampa Bay.

The next season the Mariners signed veteran shortstop Rick Aurilia who had a good career with the San Francisco Giants up to that point however he played until early July when he was traded to the San Diego Padres for the rest of the season. For Seattle, he only hit .241 with 4 home runs.

The remaining of 2004 the Mariners had rookie Jose Lopez as the shortstop. He batted .232 playing in 57 games. He remained with the Mariners through 2010 playing second and third base. The Mariners had a record of 63-99 in 2004 under manager Bob Melvin and general manager Bill Bavasi. This was after the success they had under Lou Piniella.

Now came 2005 where the Mariners had another terrible season now under Mike Hargrove with a record of 69-93. The Mariners used three shortstops that year in Wilson Valdez, Mike Morse, and Yuniesky Betancourt. They all played about the same amount of games though Betancourt played 60 games for the Mariners. He hit fine being his first year with the Mariners and he was 23 years old. He hit .256 for the Mariners in 2005.

Betancourt was the starting shortstop in the years 2006 through 2008. He didn’t hit with a lot of home runs but hit for a very good batting average. In 2006 and 2007 he hit .289 and in 2008 for .279.

In 2009 Betancourt began the season as the Mariners shortstop however in July he was traded to the Kansas City Royals. He played in 63 games for the Mariners before being traded with a .250 batting average.

The remaining 2009 season Ronny Cedeno, Jack Wilson, and Josh Wilson played shortstop. The Mariners though ended up 85-77 finishing third place in the American League West under manager Don Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik.

In 2010 they went back to being a terrible team. Don Wakamatsu was fired late in the season and was replaced by Daren Brown who was coaching at triple-A Tacoma. Josh Wilson was the starting shortstop along with Jack Wilson playing some as well. Josh Wilson batted .227 while Jackson Wilson hit .249. They certainly didn’t remind anyone of Yuniesky Betancourt.

In 2011 Eric Wedge became the manager. He didn’t have any more success that season going 67-95. The Mariners shortstop that season was Brendan Ryan a good defensive shortstop but didn’t hit well. 2011 was his best year hitting for the Mariners batting .248. The next two years he hit under .200 then was traded to the New York Yankees on September 13, 2013.

The following season, Brad Miller was the Mariners shortstop for 107 games. He hit for a batting average of .221 with 10 home runs. In 2015 he started 83 games at shortstop with a batting average of .258 with 11 home runs. After the season he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays with Logan Morrison and Danny Farquhar by new general manager Jerry Dipoto.

On July 31, 2015, Seattle brought up rookie Ketel Marte to play shortstop. He played in 57 games for the Mariners batting .283. The following season 2016 he played in 119 games for the Seattle, going on the disabled list three times. He hit only .259 in those 118 games so after the season decided Marte wasn’t the future shortstop any longer and traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The trade the Mariners made sending Marte along with pitcher Taijuan Walker may have been one of the biggest trades in recent history at that point. The Mariners acquired shortstop Jean Segura and outfielder Mitch Haniger.

Jean Segura was the Mariners shortstop for 2017 and 2018. It looked like he would be the Mariner shortstop for at least seven more years since they signed him to a contract extension for seven years in May 2017. However, after the all-star game where he looked like becoming the MVP things happened in the locker room well as taking himself out of a game so Jerry Dipoto decided the time to move on with Segura.

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In 2017 Segura hit .300 with 11 home runs along with 45 rbi’s. In 2018 he hit .304 with 10 home runs and driving in 63 runs. In December Jerry Dipoto traded Jean Segura along with relievers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos for shortstop J.P. Crawford a former high draft pick and Carlos Santana to the Philadelphia.

Santana later was traded to Cleveland Indians who he previously played for. Outside of saving money the trade of Segura, Nicasio and Pazos make me shake my head.

On January 10, 2019, the Mariners signed shortstop Tim Beckham to a one-year contract. The purpose is in case J.P. Crawford isn’t ready to play shortstop on a regular basis as of yet in the major leagues.

Tim Beckham began his major league career with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. The five years in the majors he has played as a utility player. In 2017 the Rays traded him to the Baltimore Orioles on June 21 for a minor leaguer. He was a first round overall pick by Tampa Bay in 2008.

Before being traded to the Orioles during the 2017 season he did play 119 games at shortstop for the Rays. He hit .259 with 12 home runs and 36 rbi’s. With the Orioles the rest of 2017 he played in 49 games all at shortstop. The Orioles he hit .306 with 10 home runs along with driving in 26 runs. He showed in 2017 having some power however in 2018 he didn’t do as well. He hit .230 with 12 home runs and 35 rbi’s.  The Orioles had a horrible record in 2018 winning only 47 games while losing 115.

Seattle is hoping Tim Beckham will rebound this coming season if J.P. Crawford isn’t ready to start 2019 as the everyday shortstop. Crawford was picked in the first round 16th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013. He made his debut with the Phillies on September 5, 2017. He played in 23 games batting .214 without hitting a home run.

In 2018 he started the season as the Phillies shortstop however he was injured after 20 games then he went on the disabled list. He did rehab in the minor leagues. In all, he played in 49 games for the Phillies again hitting only .214 with 3 home runs and 12 rbi’s.

Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners are hoping J.P. Crawford will turn into the shortstop the Phillies intended when they drafted him in 2013. The only other player who could play shortstop in 2019 for a period of time is Dee Gordon. The question then would be who plays second base. Gordon came up as a shortstop however the Los Angeles moved him to second base.

Seattle has two shortstops in their top 30 prospects in # 14 Noelvi Marte who is 17 years old and #15 Juan Querecuto who is #18. They are both recent international signings so they could be several years away. There is a possible change of positions as well.

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So if J.P. Crawford doesn’t turn out to be the future shortstop in Seattle this means Jerry Dipoto will have to go out and pick up one. The shortstop along with catcher and center field are important positions along with pitching for Seattle to make it to the promise land.