Seattle Mariners All-Decade Team: Center Field
As we kick off a new decade, we take a look at honoring the best Mariners center fielder of the last century as we start to wrap up our 2010s All-Decade Team.
If left field is the franchises black hole, then centerfield may just be the garden of Eden. The Mariners have been blessed with many good centerfielders in their history, including one of the greatest all-time players.
Unfortunately, Ken Griffey Jr.‘s heroics in the ’90s don’t make him eligible for this particular list. Nor does Mike Cameron‘s, Dave Henderson‘s, or Ruppert Jones. Not even Randy Winn or Ichiro are eligible for today’s spot. And as you may imagine, the 2010s may have been the roughest decade for Seattle’s rich history of centerfielders.
But before we crown our champ, let’s do a quick rundown of the parameters we have set in place. Remember, it only takes one game played at the position in a Mariners uniform between 2010-2019 to be eligible.
While longevity isn’t required, it certainly helps, as memorable moments and fan “favortiness” are certain factors we account for, as well as raw statistics. Other than that, there isn’t much else to discuss. So let’s look at a few candidates.
A few players who likely score high on the memorable moments and fan-favorite scale are Jarrod Dyson, Leonys Martin, and Guillermo Heredia. Dyson only played one season in Seattle but posted a respectable 2.1 fWAR, along with a .251/.324/.350 slash with good base-running and defense.
Martin had a fair share of memorable moments in Seattle. He made a game-ending catch against the Tigers, crashing face-first into the centerfield wall. He hit a walk-off home run against the Oakland A’s. He also produced 2.1 fWAR in just over one full season in Seattle, and was amongst the best defensive CF in the game during that time.
Heredia had more games played than either Dyson or Martin, but his mediocre results outweigh his fan-favorite stature in our exercise. Other names worthy of conversation are Michael Saunders and Austin Jackson. But I think we can all agree that the best centerfielder of the decade was a man we simply called, “Guti”.
Seattle Mariners All-Decade Team Centerfielder: Franklin Gutierrez
There may not be a sadder story of a career ruined by injury in the history of the Mariners than Franklin Gutierrez. Acquired in former GM Jack Zduriencik’s first major trade, Guti’s best season was actually 2009 when he burst onto the scene and earned the nickname “Death to Flying Things” from Dave Niehaus.
Unfortunately, we can’t count that towards our discussion. He returned in 2010 and posted a solid season, but he began having digestive issues that winter and after a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis, Guti was limited to just 232 games total from 2011-2015.
The ailment sapped Guti of his defensive wizardness and put his career on the back burner of his mind, though the drive to play major league baseball never went away. Gutierrez returned in 2015, and although he only played in 59 games, he posted a .292/.354/.620 slash and produced a 2.3 fWAR, his highest output since his magical 2009 season.
Guti would return for one last go-around with the Mariners in 2016 and was a solid bench bat who produced a .246/.329/.452 slash in 98 games, good for a 1.0 fWAR.
Overall, despite the chronic injuries, Guti still finished second amongst Mariners CF in games played, PAs, runs, and stolen bases, while finishing first in home runs, RBI, and fWAR. It really is a shame we never got to see a fully healthy Franklin Gutierrez in the prime of his career. But hey, we still got some awesome moments like this:
Franklin Gutierrez will always be one of the biggest “what if’s” in Mariners’ history. But focusing on what could have been is a great way to overlook the “what was”. And for his time in Seattle, Guti was everything we needed as fans. A boundless, energetic, ball of hope. Welcome to the All-Decade team Guti, we saved you a spot.