Top Mariners without Mid-Summer Classic Invites
By Trevor Pedro
The MLB All-Star game is often seen as a barometer of a player’s worth and skill level. If you look at any current Top 100 players list, you’ll see one common thread: the guys at the top have all made it to an All-Star game. At least one mid-summer classic invite is in their resume. Unfortunately, like most sports All-Star games the MLB isn’t immune to snubs. There are a few Mariners who should’ve taken part in the festivities, getting a few late-game at-bats for the AL All-Star squad.
Mariners Snub #1 - Kenji Johjima
Johjima was the first Japanese-born catcher in the major leagues. He came over after a nice run in Japan in 2006. Kenji Johjima's first two years were fantastic, as he accumulated 5.3 WAR and was a slightly above-average player (103 wRC+). Those two years were his best in what would end up being a four-year stint in the Emerald City.
Offensively, the Japanese import controlled the zone before it was the fad. He rarely walked (3.8%), but he didn’t strike out much either (8.6%). Johjima was a dead pull hitter who probably would’ve been run out of the league with the shift of today. 2006 was his best year and probably his best chance to make the All-Star team as he racked up a .291/.332/.451 slash line with 18 homers and 76 runs batted in.
Johjima wasn’t the best defender, evidenced by 120 passed balls, as well as a -13 DRS. Those numbers don’t seem like All-Star caliber, but he did have one of the strongest arms behind the dish. For his career, he threw out runners at a 40% clip: leading the league twice. It was quite the head-scratcher when he was handed the huge extension in 2009 but opted out and went back to Japan.
Mariners Snub #2 - Randy Winn
Winn will forever be etched in the Mariner history books as the player acquired for Manager Lou Pinella, but he did pay immediate dividends. Randy Winn's two-year run with the Mariners showcased a do-it-all player with the ability to impact games on offense and defense.
2003 was his best season when he authored a .295/.346/.425 slash line with a 3.6 WAR. That season he had 52 extra-base hits, swiped 23 bases, and scored 103 runs from the top of the lineup. The same year he showcased elite defense with a cumulative 7.9 UZR in all three outfield spots.
Winn would be traded to San Francisco at the 2005 trade deadline.
Mariners Snub #3 - Raul Ibanez
Those mid-nineties Mariner squads were something else. There is an All-Star case to be made for nearly a dozen players. One of the most deserving is Raul Ibanez. Originally drafted by the Mariners in 1992, Ibanez would make three stops in Seattle over his 18-year career, but I want to focus on his 2004-2008 tour.
In that five-year run Ibanez would end up slashing .291/.352/.480 and averaging 23 homers and 98 runs batted in. He subscribed to the control the zone mantra as his walk rates were above 8.9% and he struck out below league average. He was a hitting machine, who found the fountain of youth in Seattle, and should’ve found his way onto an AL All-Star roster one of these years.