1977 All-Star Ruppert Jones – First Mariners All-Star
The Mariners started back in 1977. The team wasn’t good, and well, they wouldn’t be good for a long time. 1995, to be exact. And boy, was that a fun team and an amazing experience.
Back in 1977, though, there was someone that stood out for the Mariners, and it was their first-ever All-Star. Selected from Kansas City with the first pick in the expansion draft, the Mariners took Ruppert Jones to play center field for them, putting their eggs in the basket of a 22-year-old youngster. (It seems like a trend to trust young stud center fielders for the Mariners)
Jones would post a 4.1 WAR that year, slashing .263/.324/.454 with 24 HR and 13 SB. He also provided some decent defense with 11 assists and a 1.1 dWAR. A Jones card in the low 80s, with a good arm, decent glove, high speed (8 3B) but not a great steal number (he was only 13-22 on SB attempts) would make for a nice early-to-mid game card in center. I could see him as a silver hitter and a gold defender, with a little more pop compared to his contact numbers.
You could also use him as a platoon guy, as he was bad vs lefties at .201/.274/.365 in 1977, but smashed RHP with a line of .292/.348/.495. I think he could be one of those surprising cards that hit RHP well for a low gold card, but you would definitely need an outfielder who could hit lefties to spell him in those matchups.
Next we get to someone that more people should know, and that would help younger Mariners fans grow stronger in their knowledge of former Mariners.