Mariners #3 DH: Ken Phelps – 9.8 fWAR
There are no pictures of Phelps for some reason, so here’s Jerry Stiller. This makes sense, because when you find something in life that can make you laugh, and you get to pair it with a bit of misfortune for the New York Yankees, you know that you’ve found a good combination. It’s why I always have loved the scene from Seinfeld when George’s dad berates Steinbrenner for trading away Buhner. It’s gold.
The player that the Mariners traded away, Ken Phelps, is actually #3 when it comes to the greatest Mariners DH of all time. He spent five and a half years in Seattle, and four of those were pretty good years. He ended up with seasons of 2.1, 2.1, 2.7, and 2.2 fWAR during his time with the Mariners, and was having his best season at the plate when the Mariners traded him away.
It’s one of the rare occurrences when the Mariners made a trade and it actually worked out quite well for them, at least pre Trader Jerry.
In that 1988 season, Phelps had a WRC+ of 170 through 72 games. 14 HR and a slash line of .284/.434/.547 can do that for you. That walk rate is insanely impressive, sitting at 20.9%. It was probably the best part of his game, as he had around an 18.5-19% BB rate from 1984-1988 with the Mariners.
It would’ve been his best fWAR season if he stayed with the team and continued to produce at that level. Instead, his best season falls the year before in 1987. He went .259/.410/.548 with a 2.7 fWAR, knocking a career-high 27 HR.
Although he finished 88 strong with the Yankees, he never did much after that. Buhner would have a 22.4 fWAR after being traded, while Phelps would have a lowly mark of 0.0. He was good while he was on the Mariners though, and did enough to come in at #3 behind The Boomstick.