12 Days of Mariners-mas: ‘The Big Unit’ Randy Johnson is #5
This guy at #5 on our list has quite a bit more hair than number #6 on our all-time list, Jay Buhner. Please welcome the man with the mullet, Randy Johnson, on the 5th day of Mariners-mas.
This topic is up to some debate on which hairstyle is better? Personally, I am not a big fan of mullets or buzz cuts, but I would say for the sake of argument Johnson’s is better. Mainly, because other great pitchers eventually went along with his style, just look at Tim Lincecum’s and Jacob DeGrom’s early years, the flow clearly beats the buzz.
Okay, enough hair talk, this is about how important Randy Johnson was to the Mariners.
Back in 1995, Randy Johnson was instrumental in helping the Mariners reach the playoffs for the first time. His 1995 Cy Young campaign was huge for the M’s rotation, as he was virtually untouchable that season with a 2.48 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and an 18-2 record.
Johnson’s complete game against the Angels in the one-game playoff at the Kingdome was crucial, as he held the Angels to one run in a 9-1 Mariners win. He also had a big performance against the Yankees in the division series, as he pitched seven innings, gave up just two runs on four hits, in a 7-4 M’s victory to stave off elimination.
A tall, lanky lefty, listed at (6’10) from Walnut Creek, California, Johnson’s career was turned around upon a meeting with future hall of fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. Ryan taught him how to plant his foot while throwing fastballs, adding accuracy to Johnson’s velocity.
Hitters probably wish Ryan never showed him that, as Randy Johnson became a fierce pitcher, that no hitter ever wanted to face. John Kruk, former Phillies first baseman, for example, had quite the challenge facing Johnson in the 1993 MLB All-Star Game. To quote Kruk, “All I wanted to do was live”, after Johnson missed high and in with a fastball, and eventually struck out Kruk.
Not only did Randy scare hitters, but he also was a danger to anything that came near his fastball. One time a bird flew in front of a high fastball he threw in a Spring Training game, which then hit the bird, sending feathers everywhere.
Johnson’s ferocious style of pitching with his fastball made his snappy slider practically untouchable. Plus, not only did batters have to face Randy’s brutal fastball and slider combo, but they also had to endure his menacing looks from the mound. With the combination of intimidation and nasty pitches, Johnson punished hitters. He earned five Cy Young awards, was a 2001 World Series Champion and MVP, then eventually made the Mariners Hall of Fame, and Baseball Hall of Fame.
With everything that he accomplished on the mound for the Mariners, it’s easy to see why the Big Unit was one of the best to ever do it for Seattle. This is why Randy Johnson comes in at #5 in our 12 days of Mariners-mas.