As we wind down the decade, one filled with mostly sad memories for Seattle Mariners fans, we are going to focus on the positive and build a team out of the best players from the decade.
Despite their struggles in the 2010s, the Seattle Mariners have had some pretty good players roll through town. And as we march towards the end of the decade, we have decided to create a starting lineup of the best player at every position in the decade.
But before we dive right into unveiling our first player, let’s lay down some quick ground rules. You only need 1 game played with the Mariners between Opening Day 2010 and game 162 of 2019 to be eligible for this list.
However, only your contributions made while playing in Seattle’s uniform will be taken into account. This makes some positions easier to fill than others. Some positions will have 3 or 4 legitimate candidates and we will need to break them down. Some are so obvious, it isn’t really worth much debate.
But that is the only criteria we will be using. The team will be assembled largely by statistical analysis, but a big moment contribution and/or overall “fan favoriteness” is going to be factored in. Why? Well quite frankly, if it’s not, there will be some really lean positions that we cover.
But with all that in mind, let’s go ahead and crown our first member of the All-2010s Decade team, by unveiling who will be our starting catcher. And remember how I said some spots are easy to fill and others aren’t? Well, there isn’t much debate at this position.
All-Decade Team Starting Catcher: Mike Zunino
There were very few players Mariners fans wanted to be good more than Mike Zunino. He was a tireless worker, a good teammate, always accepted responsibility for his shortcomings, and was just an all-around good dude.
And while he did struggle in the batter’s box for most of his time in Seattle, he was still far and away the most productive catcher of the decade. In fact, here is a crazy stat. Care to guess how many catchers in the decade recorded more than 150 PAs in a Mariners uniform? 11. That’s it.
So how much did Zunino catch in the 2010s? Well, the 11 Mariners backstops who played with any serious amount of playtime got 6,084 PAs in the decade. Zunino took 2,087 of them. Meaning to just over 1/3 of every catcher PA in the decade was taken by Zunino. Wow.
And as we mentioned, there wasn’t a ton of good PAs in there. In his Mariners’ career, Zunino slashed just .207/.276/.406 with 95 HRs, good for an 89 wRC+. The 89 wRC+ was a distant 5th amongst Seattle catchers in the decade, but the defense was so incredibly valuable.
And while the overall success of Zunino wasn’t what many had hoped for, Zunino still led Mariners catchers in games played, PAs, home runs, RBI, runs, and defensive score. As difficult as Z was to watch at times, he was undoubtedly the best Mariners catcher of the decade.