Seattle Mariners Right Field History, Leroy Stanton to Mitch Haniger

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 20: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Marinerslaps the bases after hitting a two run home run agianst the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning to tie the game at Safeco Field on May 20, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - MAY 20: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Marinerslaps the bases after hitting a two run home run agianst the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning to tie the game at Safeco Field on May 20, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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I am sure everyone would agree that centerfield has housed the best players in the history of the Mariners. However, Seattle’s right field has had some pretty good players as well.

The first right fielder for the Mariners was LeRoy Stanton. He played the first two years in the Mariners existence. He had a pretty good year for the expansion team. He hit .275 with 27 home runs and 90 RBIs in 1977.

The next season, he spent more time at DH and LF. His second and last year in Seattle, his performance went down. He hit .185 with three home runs and 24 runs driven in. I have to remember the expansion year for his success.

The next right fielder to come onto the scene was Leon Roberts. The Mariners acquired Roberts from the Houston Astros for infielder Jimmy Sexton. Roberts hit .301 with 22 home runs and 92 RBIs. He was with Seattle in 1979 and 1980.

The Mariners purchased the contract of Joe Simpson from the Los Angeles Dodgers just before the 1979 season started. Simpson was with Seattle for four years. He spent majority his time playing in right field during his first two seasons in a Mariner uniform. He was a good defender with speed. However, he didn’t have the power of Stanton and Roberts.

The Mariners acquired another right fielder before the 1981 season, Jeff Burroughs. He had had some good years with the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves but his one season in Seattle didn’t meet up to expectations. He hit .254 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI’s, playing in 89 games.

During training camp of 1982, the Mariners acquired Al Cowens from the Detroit. He had some good years before arriving in Seattle. He was runner up for MVP in 1977 to Rod Carew and won the gold glove as well. He was known for having a pretty good arm.

Cowens was with the Mariners from 1982 until May of 1986. He hit 20 home runs in 1982 along with 15 in 1984 and 14 in 1985. He had an off-year in 1983 with seven home runs. When the Mariners released him in May 1986 he hadn’t hit a home run at all.

The Mariners had a rookie second baseman in Danny Tartabull who they moved to right field when Cowens was released. He had a solid rookie season hitting .270 with 25 home runs and 96 RBIs. He was traded him to the Kansas City Royals where he had some good years along with the time spent with the New York Yankees.

In 1987 Mike Kingery was the Mariners right fielder. He was one of the players Seattle acquired for Danny Tartabull. Kingery hit .280 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs.  He was with the Mariners in 1988 and 1989 but played in a back-up role.

Before the 1988 season, the Mariners acquired Glenn Wilson to play right field. The Mariners sent left-fielder Phil Bradley to the Philadelphia Phillies. Wilson was only with the Mariners up to the trading deadline when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Mariners had a record of 68-93 in 1988. Besides trading Wilson the Mariners sent designated hitter Ken Phelps to the Yankees for a little known outfielder at the time but everyone in Seattle became to love in Jay Buhner, also known as “the Bone”.

More from Seattle Mariners History

Though Buhner was acquired in July 1988 he didn’t become the Mariners regular right fielder until 1991. In 1989 and 1990 he spent time in triple-A well as a backup in Seattle. Jay Buhner hit more than 20 home runs from 1991 thru 1997. In fact, from 1995 thru 1997, he hit over 40 home runs well as driving in over hundred runs in those seasons as well.

Buhner was the one player who helped coin the phrase “refuse to lose” when the Mariners made the miraculous finish to make the playoffs in 1995. In 1998 and 1989 Jay Buhner only played half-seasons because of injuries however in 2000 he had 26 home runs and 82 RBIs. In 2001 when the Mariners won 116 games Buhner appeared in only 19 games. He retired after the season.

In 2001 the Mariners signed a free agent out of Japan by the name of Ichiro Suzuki. He was rookie of year and MVP of the American League.  He became the Mariners right fielder in 2001.

Ichiro was 27 years old when he came to play for the Mariners. He already was a superstar in his native country of Japan. His tour of duty in Seattle was for ten years. Besides being the best singles hitter around, he won a gold glove all ten years in Seattle. In eleven of the twelve years, he played most of his time in right field.

The Mariners switched him to center field in 2007 to play. That year Jose Guillen played in right field. He went to Kansas City as a free agent the next year so Ichiro was moved back to right field.

In 2001 Ichiro hit .350 with 69 RBIs from the lead-off spot. Also, he stole 56 bases. He showed off early what a tremendous throwing arm he had. In his eighth game with the Mariners, he threw out Terrence Long of the Oakland at third base. Long was trying to advance from first base to third on a single. Ichiro showed that day he was more than a hitter.

PEORIA, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 22: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning of the MLB spring training game at Peoria Stadium on February 22, 2019, in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PEORIA, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 22: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning of the MLB spring training game at Peoria Stadium on February 22, 2019, in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

In total Ichiro had four seasons where he hit .350 or higher which is quite amazing. Besides 2001 he hit over .350 in 2004, 2007, and 2009. In 2004 he hit for .372. What makes it remarkable is Ichiro didn’t walk a lot either. Also, he broke George Sisler’s 84-year old record of most hits in a season in major league baseball with 262.

Ichiro hit over .300 in every year with the Mariners except the last two years. In 2011 at the age of 37 years old, he hit .272 then the following year .261 before being traded to the New York Yankees on July 23, 2012.

There is no argument: up to this date, Jay Buhner and Ichiro Suzuki are the best right fielders the Mariners have had.

After the departure of Ichiro in 2013, the Mariners had several players in right field. Mike Morse, who Seattle reacquired before the season played 53 games in right field and Endy Chavez for 50 played the most games. Neither came close to playing like Ichiro. The Mariners were 71-91 in 2013 under manager Eric Wedge.

In 2014 the Mariners rebounded under new manager Lloyd McClendon with a record of 87-75 however didn’t have a right fielder who played regularly. This time the position was shared by Michael Saunders, Endy Chavez, and Stefen Romero for the most part.

In 2015 the Mariners signed Nelson Cruz as a free agent. He split his time evenly between right field and designated hitter that season, before spending his next three years in Seattle as the DH. Though he wasn’t the defensive player he was before arriving in Seattle his bat was a welcome site since Ichiro had left.

Nelson Cruz ended up hitting .302 with 44 home runs and 93 RBI in 2015. To keep Cruz healthy and in the lineup, the Mariners made him into a full-time DH although he did play a handful of games in right field.

When Cruz wasn’t playing right field in 2015 Seth Smith who had played some left field went over to play right field until June when the Mariners acquired Mark Trumbo from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Trumbo stint in Seattle was short, although he did hit 14 home runs in his time with the Mariners. After the season new general manager Jerry Dipoto sent his bags packing to the Baltimore Orioles.

In 2016 right field was used primarily in a platoon situation with Seth Smith and Franklin Gutierrez. Smith would start against righties while Gutierrez would against lefties. Nelson Cruz though did play 48 games in right field as well.  It was a good situation as Smith and Gutierrez hit 30 home runs between them and over 100 RBI.

During the off-season going into 2017 general manager, Jerry Dipoto pulled off a good trade acquiring shortstop Jean Segura who was the main player in the trade along with outfielder Mitch Haniger for pitcher Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte.

Haniger ended up playing 92 games in right field in his first full season in the major leagues. Another outfielder Ben Gamel who Seattle had acquired in August 2016 played 50 games in right field. Haniger played only in 92 games in right field because of injuries that happened to him putting him on the disabled list a couple of times. He ended up hitting .282 with 16 home runs and 47 RBI.

In 2018 having a full year under his belt without injuries not only did Haniger have a good season he made the all-star team as well. With the suspension of Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon moved from center field to second base Haniger ended up playing 35 games in center field while playing the remaining in right field. He hit again another solid .285 with 26 home runs and driving in 93 runs.

light. Read. Mariners Shortstop Bigger Than Life? Past, Present and Future

Going into 2019, after trading  Mike Zunino, Jean Segura, and Robinson Cano,  Mitch Haniger has become the face of the franchise. The Mariners see him as a player who has stardom for the future. He may be right up there with Buhner and Ichiro. Only time will tell and we hope to be the ones to see it unfold.

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