On the seventh day of Mariners-mas, the Hall of Fame gave to me, the most talented shortstop you would ever see. Six years after the Mariners drafted the Kid, they would draft another high schooler with the top pick in the draft. A strapping and powerful shortstop that played with grace and fluidity, it seemed like the Mariners had found a special player at the top of the 1993 draft. His name… was Alex Rodriguez.
“Hold on… 7th? 7th!… SEVENTH!!!” Yup, we are putting him as the 7th-best Mariners player in team history. This isn’t strictly a ranking of how talented a player was, their potential, or what they would go on to do for the entirety of their career.
Alex Rodriguez comes in as the 7th best Mariners player in team history
Yes, Alex Rodriguez probably has an argument for the most talented Mariner to ever don the uniform. Ken Griffey Jr, Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, Randy Johnson… they all have a claim to it, and we will get to them later on. It may surprise you, but Alex Rodriguez can’t hold a candle to any of them when it comes to the greatest Mariners player.
He got fans’ hopes up instantly. During his age 20 season, Alex Rodriguez would put together not just one of the greatest seasons ever by a 20-year-old, but one of the best seasons anyone had seen… ever. Check out the line that he posted that year.
- .358/.414/.641, 54 2Bs, 36 HRs, 15 SBs, 141 R, 123 RBI, 379 Total Bases
Those Bolded stats? Yeah, those are the ones that he led the league in. He had the second greatest oWAR in team history (only bested by he himself four years later), and the 3rd highest WAR in team history (once again bested by his 2000 season, and Griffey’s season that year in 1996). Either Griffey or A-Rod should’ve won MVP that year, but it somehow went to Juan Gonzales and his 3.8 WAR. Gross.
Watching Alex Rodriguez in his early 20’s was incredible. As a young boy watching baseball, there was literally nothing better in the baseball world than watching this amazing shortstop, the Kid in Center, the greatest DH of all time, and the Big Unit all in the same game.
By the year 2001, all but Edgar would be gone.
With A-Rod, you just couldn’t look away whenever he was up. He could take a pitch that was low and away and put it over the fence in right-center, and he seemed to do it with ease. He played short with a grace that you rarely saw. Someone that size, moving that smoothly, it was a rarity. And not only did we have one in centerfield, but we had one at shortstop as well.
The line that he put together during his time on the Mariners was otherwordly. Incredible. This is what he averaged, per season, from age 20 through age 24 when he left the team. This is for his average of 145 games played per season. So once you see it, you can see how much more dangerous he was during a full 162 game season.
- .315/.381/.575. 38 2Bs, 37 HRs, 25 SBs, 122 R, 115 RBI
There is a… stigma around Alex Rodriguez. I don’t know if that’s the exact word for it, but there is something about him that, rightfully, rubs some fans the wrong way. Some kids who are better than everyone their entire lives don’t ever have to worry about insulting people or saying the wrong thing. They’re better than you, they know it, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
During the last game at the Kingdome, Alex Rodriguez brought up how Seattle was the one and only place in baseball that he didn’t want to end up playing. Humblebrag, but I would know. I was there. Then, when he was about to enter free agency, he mentioned that he wasn’t going to sign somewhere simply for the money. Next thing you know, he has signed the biggest deal in the history of baseball with the Texas Rangers.
10 years and $252 million. That would be like signing a $395.7 million dollar now. The deal was so big back then, that ESPN and the major outlets of 20 years ago ran segments day after day about it. Shoot, there were multiple teams that he could’ve bought on his own. I don’t mean there were multiple teams he could’ve bought separately. I mean that there were multiples he could’ve gotten together at the same time.
Yeah, the deal was that big.
For years, it haunted Alex Rodriguez. It wasn’t just when he came to Seattle, but that first year he would be called Pay-Rod wherever he went. Even once he made his way to the Yankees, when he came to Seattle, fans would throw fake money from the bleachers as they chanted it.
It wasn’t that he left for money. It was the way that he did it. If he could’ve been honest, we wouldn’t have cared near as much.
When you add up all the factors relating to Alex Rodriguez and his time on the Mariners, he falls down the rankings a bit. It’s why he comes in as #7 in our 12 days of Mariners-mas.