Felix Hernandez. Ken Griffey Jr. Edgar Martinez. Ichiro.

As a face of a franchise, a player is more than just the best on his or her team. The distinction extends beyond the field, representing the team in everything he or she does.

The Mariners have been searching for a face of the franchise since King Felix left Seattle after the 2019 season. The team’s rebuild claimed the most recognizable names and left a few others — Kyle Seager, namely — in limbo.

But that doesn’t mean one of their young stars can’t fill that void.

We’ve come up with categories that we think are important to a player inheriting the mantle. But it’s up to you, the fans, to pick your face of the franchise. After all, this isn’t something anyone else can decide. This player needs your backing.

Here are the candidates:

  • The Award Winner: Kyle Lewis, outfielder
  • The Ace: Marco Gonzales, starting pitcher
  • The Future, Part I: Jarred Kelenic, outfielder
  • The Glove: Evan White, first baseman
  • The Future, Part II: Julio Rodriguez, outfielder

Vote for the player who you believe best exemplifies each category, and see how your fellow Mariners fans voted, in our face of the franchise poll below. Then, show your support by posting your pick on social media with our social cards.


Talent

Talent matters more than everything else. You can’t be the face of the franchise if you don’t possess the talent to do something great on the field. And it has to be a talent level that pushes you above the average player.

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Personality

Having the proper personality is important. You have all the talent in the world, but if you have a personality that doesn’t lend itself to being liked, fans will never embrace you as the face of the franchise. Just ask Alex Rodriguez.


On-field production

Baseball is often called a results-based business. You need to produce results on the field to be a face of the franchise. And you have to do it consistently. Ichiro used the baseline of three years of consistent success.


Longevity

The concept of longevity is important because the face of the franchise is someone who is around for a long period of time — not just three years and goodbye. It’s a relationship and responsibility that builds over time.


Postseason

We’ve all seen Edgar Martinez’s double that scored Ken Griffey Jr. with the winning run vs. the Yankees in 1995. That matters. While postseason success isn’t much of a factor in the midst of their current drought, the ability to lead the Mariners to the playoffs should be important.


Confidence

You want confidence without being arrogant. You want a cockiness and swagger that isn’t off-putting. When Griffey would hold that pose after a homer or Hernandez would fist-pump after a strikeout, it built confidence in teammates and fans.


Highlight reel

The highlight-reel moments cling to your memory, reminding you of the greatness. Griffey hitting the warehouse in Baltimore in the Home Run Derby, or the catch in New York robbing Jesse Barfield. Hernandez’s hands in the air after his perfect game. When Ichiro’s throw to cut down Terrence Long at third base was labeled “something out of Star Wars” by Dave Niehaus, a legend was born.  

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The “It” Factor

Maybe it’s charisma. Maybe it’s a look. Maybe it’s an image portrayed. But it’s something that distinguishes them from the rest. Ichiro embodied this sort of aspect, from the sword-like start before every pitch to the mirrored Oakley sunglasses and way he wore his uniform.


Clutch gene

Delivering when it matters most will quickly elevate your status. Can you perform in the game’s biggest moments? Can you deliver when your team needs it most? The more you do that, the more you will be remembered.


Post your pick

Your next face of the Mariners franchise is the player that you selected the most. Click the link, download the social card and post your pick on social media. Don’t forget to tag @SeaTimesSports on Twitter!

Click and download:

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Mariners opening day is Thursday, April 1 vs. the San Francisco Giants at 7:10 p.m. For complete Mariners season preview coverage, click here.

Development: Emily Eng / The Seattle Times. Mariners reporter Ryan Divish contributed to this project.