Seattle Mariners: Left Field History from Phil Bradley to Domingo Santana

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26: Domingo Santana #16 of the Milwaukee Brewers is doused with water in the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Washington Nationals in the first inning at Nationals Park on July 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26: Domingo Santana #16 of the Milwaukee Brewers is doused with water in the dugout after hitting a solo home run against the Washington Nationals in the first inning at Nationals Park on July 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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2003-Present

SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 26: Ben Gamel #16 of the Seattle Mariners watches his two run double in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics during their game at Safeco Field on September 26, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 26: Ben Gamel #16 of the Seattle Mariners watches his two run double in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics during their game at Safeco Field on September 26, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The next in line was Randy Winn who had good playing time in Seattle. The Mariners acquired him from Tampa Bay when manager  Lou Piniella decided to move on to the Rays. He played two full seasons for the Mariners. In 2003 he hit .295 with 11 home runs and 75 RBI; the next season he played more time in center field than left. In 2005 he was back playing more in left field until he was traded to the San Francisco Giants at the end of July. He was hitting .275 at the time of the trade.

In his second tour of duty, Raul Ibanez was the Mariners left fielder in 2004. He hit .304 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI. In 2005 he was designated hitter in over one hundred games however he did play 55 games in left field.

Raul Ibanez was back playing in left field the next three years. Those three years were the best by any left fielder for the Mariners which isn’t hard to beat. He drove in over a hundred RBI all three years. You could debate who was the best left fielder between Raul and Phil Bradley but no one else measures up to those two.

In 2009 thru 2011 he played for the Philadelphia Phillies followed by a year with the New York Yankees. He returned to the Mariners in 2013 again as the regular left fielder. It was his final year in a Mariner uniform. His numbers were not as good in 2013 but better than many of the other Mariner left fielders

After Raul Ibanez went off to the Phillies in 2009 that season the Mariners had several players in left field none of them with much success. They had rookie Wladimir Balentien who had some good years in triple-A but not much success in Seattle. He went on to play in Japan. Also, there were Bill Hall, Michael Saunders, and Ryan Langerhans having some time in left as well.

So in 2010, Michael Saunders played his most games in left field of 77 games however hit only .211. His remaining time 2011 thru 2014 he spent more time in center and right field. In 2011 and 2014 he struggled to stay healthy. December 2014 Saunders  Saunders was the Toronto Blue Jays for starting pitcher J.A. Happ.

In 2011 the Mariners used several left fielders like Carlos Peguero and Milton Bradley. Neither one had any success. The Mariners didn’t either with a record of  67-95 on the season and finishing fourth place in the American League West.

The Mariners acquired another young outfielder Casper Wells at the trading deadline in 2011 from the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Doug Fister. In 2012 his only full season with the Mariners he played 52 games in left field. The rest of the outfielders were not much to write about either. Lack of success in Seattle Wells was released in April 2013.

Already mentioned earlier Raul Ibanez in his third time with the Mariners was the left fielder in 2013. His final year with the Mariners. In 2014 Dustin Ackley the Mariners number one draft pick (#2 overall) in 2009 was the Mariners left fielder after moving from second base with the arrival of Robinson Cano.

ANAHEIM, CA – JUNE 28: Dustin Ackley #13 of the Seattle Mariners catches a fly ball hit by Daniel Robertson #44 of the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 28, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA – JUNE 28: Dustin Ackley #13 of the Seattle Mariners catches a fly ball hit by Daniel Robertson #44 of the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 28, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

Dustin Ackley never measured up to his #2 overall status. His batting average was his highest of his career at .273 in his rookie year of 2011 where he played in 90 games. His batting average dropped down every year after that. In 2014 playing in left field he hit .245 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI.

The following season Ackley played in 85 games for the Mariners with 63 in left field. He played in center field, second and first base as well. The Mariners traded Ackley to the New York Yankees on July 30. At the time he had an average of .215.

The last time Ackley played in the major leagues was 2016 with the Yankees. Last two years he played triple-A for the Los Angeles Angels farm team. This winter the Mariners signed Ackley to a minor league contract. He is in the major league camp for the Mariners right now.

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The odds are greatly against him though stranger things have happened before. The positive side he has no pressure on him. He likely will start in triple-A as depth in case of an injury.

The Mariners decided before 2015 to make another trade for a veteran outfielder in Seth Smith. He spent time in left field and right field. This is when the Mariners decided to platoon in left field. He started 51 games in left while 40 in right field. He didn’t have a great batting average .248, however, had 12 home runs with 42 RBI.

Seth Smith second and final season with the Mariners he started 30 games in left field while playing much more in right field. In 2016 his batting average about the same but he had 16 home runs and 63 RBI. After the season he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Yovani Gallardo which didn’t turn out to be a very good one.

The Mariners decided to go the free agent route again in 2016 picking up left-handed hitting Japanese import Nori Aoki. Again this was another season where a left fielder was with the Mariners one season. He actually hit a good average at .283 but his defense was not what the Mariners needed. He played 99 games in left for the Mariners.

The Mariners did have a platoon partner and defensive replacement added in late July in rookie Guillermo Heredia. Unlike Aoki, he played outstanding defense. He hit .250 in 41 games in 2016. Guillermo Heredia platooned in 2017 splitting time in left and center field. He hit only .249 however was very good in the fundamentals so he took part in a lot of Mariner rallies. His on-base percentage was a respectable .315.

In 2018 was an unusual year for Heredia and the Mariners. He started the season platooning with Ichiro Suzuki who returned to the team because of an injury to Ben Gamel. When Gamel returned to rehab Heredia was sent to Tacoma.

He returned to Seattle when center fielder Dee Gordon returned to his natural position of second base when Robinson Cano was suspended for failing drug policy for 80 days just a couple days after being injured.

This year, Ichiro is in camp, trying to make the squad as a long shot. Starting the season in Japan for two games and an expanded roster, Ichiro will likely play those 2 games but not when the season continues against Boston in late March.

At this point, Heredia started in center field. Playing in center field on a regular basis Heredia began slumping at the plate so returned to being a platoon player. In August he was sent down to Tacoma and Ben Gamel returned back to Seattle. Heredia finished off-season returning in late August. After the season the Mariners traded him and catcher Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Mariners acquired Ben Gamel in August of 2016.  He played mostly in right field the remaining of the season. In 2017 he played 85 games in left field while spending 50 games in right field. He had a solid first full season in the majors batting .275 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI.

As mentioned earlier 2018 Ben Gamel started the season on the disabled list then going on a rehab assignment. He started 39 games in left field while 27 in right. He was sent down a couple times to Tacoma as well. Explanation  Guillermo Heredia was a better defensive player and the Mariners were facing a lot of left-handed pitching. Even with the ups and downs of 2018, Gamel hit .272.

December 21, 2018, Ben Gamel was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Domingo Santana. The Mariners are expecting the right-handed hitting Santana to be the regular left fielder. Jay Bruce a left-handed hitter who the Mariners picked up in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade from the New York Mets likely will play some in left field well as first base and DH.

Domingo Santana made his major league debut with the Houston Astros in 2014. At the trading deadline in 2015, he was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers. He played 67 games for the Brewers almost all in right field in 2016. He had a breakout year in 2017 where he started 144 games in right field. He hit for an average of .278 with 30 home runs and 85 RBI.

In 2018, Santana was back in a reserve role starting 48 games in right field. Christian Yelich a left-handed hitter was the regular right fielder though he did play in left field when Santana was in right. Yelich ended up being MVP of the National League in 2018.

Santana, on the other hand, his batting average was .265 in 2018 along with hitting only five home runs and 20 RBI. General Manager Jerry Dipoto acquiring Santana is hoping he can get back close to his numbers in 2017 as a regular. He will be in left field most of the time since Mitch Haniger will be in right field.

Next. Mariners 3rd Base History: Stein to Seager. dark

The Mariners are hoping to that Santana can play well in left field until at least one of their outfield prospects is ready to go in the major leagues. We do hope for success for Santana in the way of Phil Bradley and Raul Ibanez; not in the way of all the other players who played in left field.

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