As the Mariners turn 40 this season, we decided to take a look back at the top 40 players in the franchise's history. We kick off our top 40 list with a look at the first 10 players (No. 40-31) on our list.
What better way to celebrate the Mariners’ 40th anniversary than with a list of the top 40 players in team history?
OK, maybe you’d respond, a World Series title might be nice.
That, though, has been — and sadly remains — a painful, slow work in progress throughout the team’s history. (Or do you really need reminding that the Mariners and the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos are the only two teams never to have appeared in the Fall Classic?)
Just because the Mariners have never reached their ultimate goal doesn’t mean the team’s history isn’t worth honoring, however. There have been countless fun, zany and memorable moments along the way, many turned in by some of the game’s most legendary players.
So here’s a tribute to the Mariners’ history with our countdown of the top 40 players in the team’s history as voted on by Seattle Times staffers Ryan Divish, Larry Stone and Bob Condotta.
40. Mark McLemore
Position: Just about everywhere
Years as a Mariner: 2000-2003
Why he’s on this list: McLemore played just four seasons with Seattle, but they were the best four in team history, when the Mariners averaged 93 victories and made it to the postseason twice. He may also have been the best utility fielder in team history, serving as the team’s primary second baseman in 2000 but playing substantially throughout at second, third and short and in the outfield and is 10th in team history in stolen bases with 92.
Key stat: Played at least seven games at five different positions with the 2001 Mariners.
Where he is now: Works with the broadcast crew of the Texas Rangers, for whom he played from ’95-99.
39. Jim Presley
Position: Third base
Years as a Mariner: 1984-89
Why he’s on this list: Presley was one of the rare bright lights during the dismal late ‘80s, turning in a 1986 season that to that point was one of the best in team history with 27 home runs and 107 RBI. He still ranks eighth on the team’s all-time home run list with 115.
Key stat: Became just the second player in major league history to hit a walk-off grand slam on Opening Day in 1986, a blast that gave Seattle an 8-4 win over California. His two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth forced extra innings.
Where he is now: Hitting coach for the Round Rock (Texas) Express, the Class AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
38. Hisashi Iwakuma
Years as a Mariner: 2012-present
Why he’s on this list: It may not seem like he’s been around all that long, but Iwakuma is seventh in Mariner history in wins with 63 and his .618 winning percentage is fourth.
Key stat: Threw just one of four individual no-hitters by a Mariner on Aug. 12, 2015, a 3-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Where he is now: Trying to get healthy enough to return to the Mariners’ rotation
37. Joey Cora
Position: Second base
Years as a Mariner: 1995-98
Why he’s on this list: One of the heart-and-soul players of the memorable 1995 run, Cora also is still sixth all-time in team history in batting average at .293 behind Ichiro, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Phil Bradley and Robinson Cano.
Key stat: Cora’s 24-game hitting streak in 1997 is the third-longest in Mariner history behind 27- and 25-gamers from Ichiro.
Where he is now: Third base coach and fielding instructor of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
36. J.J. Putz
Years as a Mariner: 2003-08
Why he’s on this list: Putz’ 101 career saves as a Mariner are second-most behind the 129 of Kazuhiro Sasaki, and his 2007 season was one of the best for a closer in team history as he saved 40 games and had a 1.38 ERA, finishing 13th in MVP balloting.
Key stat: His 31 consecutive saves from late in the 2006 season into 2007 is a team record.
Where he is now: Special assistant to the president and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
35. Richie Sexson
Position: First base
Years as a Mariner: 2005-08
Why he’s on this list: Sexson’s career may not have lived up to expectations and some may even regard him as a bust given the four-year, $50 million contract he signed in 2005, but he remains tied for 10th on the team’s career home run list with 105, 73 coming in his first two seasons when he also had 228 RBI. His .474 slugging percentage as a Mariner is seventh in team history.
Key stat: His five grand slams in 2006 is a team single-season record and his 21 home runs at Safeco Field in 2005 also remains a team season record.
Where he is now: Living in Bend, Ore., and was the coach this spring at Summit High School.
34. Arthur Rhodes
Years as a Mariner: 2000-03, 2008
Why he’s on this list: Rhodes was the quintessential setup man during the team’s 2000-2003 glory days, ultimately appearing in 312 games, fifth-most in team history.
Key stat: Had a 3.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a Mariner. If he had done that for his entire career, it would rank 16th in major league history.
Where he is now: After officially retiring in 2015, he returned to his native Waco, Texas, and last known to be working as a pitching coach in a youth baseball league.
33. Mike Blowers
Position: Third base
Years as a Mariner: 1992-95, 1997, 1999
Why he’s on this list: Blowers was a key cog on the 1995 team, with 33 RBI in the month of August, which remains tied for a team record, and also returned to help Seattle win a division title again in 1997.
Key stat: Had eight runs batted in against Boston in a game in 1995, tied with Alvin Davis (1986) and Mike Cameron (2001) for the most in a game in Mariner history.
Where he is now: Working as a color analyst for the Mariners’ broadcast teams.
32. Dave Henderson
Years as a Mariner: 1981-86
Why he’s on this list: The first first-round pick in the June draft in Mariner history, Henderson may be better remembered for his stints with the Red Sox and A’s. But his smile and enthusiasm helped light up some dark early ‘80s years for the Mariners, and his fielding may still be underrated — he ranks 29th among all center fielders since 1953 in total fielding runs above average, according to BaseballReference.com.
Key stat: Led American League in double plays turned as a center fielder in 1982 and 1984 with four each season.
Where he is now: Died of a heart attack on Dec. 27, 2015.
31. Bruce Bochte
Position: First base
Years as a Mariner: 1978-82
Why he’s on this list: One of the first significant free agent signings in team history — a three-year deal worth $325,000 in 1978 at a time when that was decent money — Bochte proved worth it, hitting .290 in five years with Seattle, which remains eighth on the Mariners’ career list.
Key stat: Got the first hit by a Mariner in an All-Star game, doing so in front of an appreciative crowd at the Kingdome in 1979, a single off Gaylord Perry to knock in a run.
Where he is now: Bochte is the executive director of the Center for the Story of the Universe in San Francisco, a position he has held since 1990. He also has worked with The Bay Institute, The Marine Mammal Center and the California Academy of Sciences.
Make your pick: Select up to 10 players from the list below to vote on who you think deserves to be in the top 10.
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