(Happy World Series Week, and welcome to our long-percolating list of the worst Mariners of all time. How did we come up with this list? What is our methodology and framework? Well you’ll be shocked to know we used a broad and inconsistent logic based around our own biases and memories. Some players are on here due to a bad career, some for a bad play. Some may simply have been unfairly stigmatized and for whatever reason the stigma stuck. It’s our list, and we are nothing if unfocused and unfair.
Below you’ll find the first 10 of our list, with the other three parts running throughout the week. If you have complaints, comments, or issues, hit us up on Twitter or in the comments and we’ll tell you why you’re wrong.
1. Miguel Olivo
It was 3:10 AM, and the Orioles had finally broken the tie. Both teams were just about out of pitchers and there was talk of bringing out a starter save for one thing: Jim Johnson was still in the pen for the O’s. Now, it’s not that it would have been any different had Olivo been facing some middling seventh-inning arm or anything. Hell, he was supposed to be at the ballpark again in six hours. It wasn’t even that he just stood there, eyes half closed, willing the game to end entirely on his own accord: a called strike, some foul balls, and a whiff. No it was the realization that I had seen hundreds of his at bats over the course of two seasons, and what I was looking at, there, on my television, 3:10 in the fucking morning, was Miguel Olivo fully putting his heart into something, and having it produce exactly the result he wanted. What the fuck. (Matt)
2. Kameron Loe
Kameron Loe faced 31 batters as a Seattle Mariner. He got 14 of them out. Six of the other 17 hit home runs, including a center-cut shrug of a slider that Dayan Viciedo (Dayan Viciedo!) struck so hard that it eliminated the Mariners from the playoffs in early April. You have to understand: this was in 2013, a time when every wise fan and semi-intelligent blogger had the “Small Sample Size” song stuck in their head. It was a tough time. We understood regression, looked upon patience the way a child looks at vegetables, and yet. What we had yet to learn, and what we would learn so cruelly and so quickly, is that all samples are different. A home run rate for pitchers stabilizes after hundreds of innings, and yet a brick to the face becomes a pretty solid pattern by brick four. (phd)
3. Eduardo Perez
On June 30th, 2006, the 41-40 Mariners (just two games back of the division lead!) traded some 20-year-old, ~light-hitting SS prospect named Asdrubal Cabrera (you’ve probably never heard of him) for right-handed batsman Eduardo Perez. The Mariners were tired of Carl Everett’s impotent bat and dinosaur slander and wanted to upgrade the DH position. Although Perez was almost 37 years old, he’d put up a wRC+ of 138 over his last ~1.5 seasons (298 PA) while thumping 19 dingers. (A HR/PA rate of 10.4% is absurdly good; even with the ridiculously juiced ball, nobody with 300+ PA hit home runs at that rate in 2017 – not even GIANCARLO.) Also, when your team is hovering around .500, it’s hip and cool to trade away your better prospects to try and plug holes on your roster, right? What could go wrong? (Andrew)
4. Chone Figgins
Writing about the Chone Figgins saga with the Seattle Mariners is psychologically one of the more twisted enterprises a writer can take on. Without belaboring the point of the epic collapse of the 2010 Seattle Mariners, a team that once looked prime to start a dynasty, Chone Figgins was the central free agent acquisition of a then-worshipped Jack Zduriencik. The M’s of that bygone era had recently shown a surprising turn of character, turning a terrible 2008 into a fun 2009. Cliff Lee was brought in to create likely the greatest 1-2 punch Seattle had ever had in Felix and Lee. Fresh off an fWAR season better than 2016 Robbie Cano, in which he received more MVP votes than Alex Rodriguez, Figgins spent his first year in Seattle scuttling through a 1.3 fWAR season. The rest, well, got much, much worse, perhaps most exemplified by his .056 ISO in 2011.
Figgins would proceed to flame out, spending 2013 without an MLB plate appearance, before barely making a 2014 Dodgers team where he amassed 76 PA’s, blamed the M’s org for all of his failings post-Angels, and then we never heard from him again. Still got that ESPN cover, though. (Skiba)
5. Carlos Silva
Silva came to Seattle on a four-year, $48 million contract in 2008 despite his career 3.8 K/9 — Silva struck out pretty much nobody and walked even less, even leading the bigs in K/BB ratio in 2005 despite a 3.5 K/9. Every ball was put in play, and when he came to Seattle most of the balls were hit very, very hard. The 2008 season was a disaster as the M’s lost 101 games, putting the final death blow on GM Bill Bavasi’s career. Barely lasting into 2009, Silva got shelled for 34 starts as a Mariner, walking batters at career-high rates (as a starter). As a kicker, Silva was eventually dumped in a bad contract swap for somebody who was once actually very good (at hitting) but very terrible (as a person) in Milton Bradley. Silva departed Seattle with a 62 ERA+ over 183.2 very expensive and very shitty innings. (Scott)
6. Scott Spiezio
Scott Spiezio had a sad career with the Mariners, and that translated to a sad career in real life. We won’t harp too much on that – only the facts. Spiezio gets a plus because, after being somewhat kick ass for the Los Angeles Angels formerly of Anaheim now of Los Angeles, and winning a World Series to boot, Spiezio did the unspoken rule thing and cashed in with a division rival via free agency at the end of the 2003 season.
Like most teams on the receiving end of this whole thing whenever it involves the Mariners, the California Angels of Anaheim formerly of Los Angeles via Anaheim got the last laugh. In 2004, Spiezio put up one of the best-worst offensive seasons this franchise has seen, and then doubled-down hardcore in 2005. By the time the M’s cut him that year, he had been to the plate 51 times and had one single, one double, one home run, and four walks to show for it. He also claimed the Mariners didn’t give him enough of a chance afterwards. Shut the hell up Scott. (Peter)
7. Rick White
The Date: August 30th, 2007
The Situation: Mariners at Indians, 5-5 in the 9th inning, runners on 2nd and 3rd, one out.
Rick White, a 38-year old journeyman reliever living out his final days in Major League Baseball, has an ERA north of 7.00. He pitched the night previous, throwing 24 pitches, in the Mariners’ fifth straight loss, a streak which threatens an inexplicably successful season.
J.J. Putz, in the middle of the greatest stretch by any Mariner reliever before or since, has not pitched in five games. He is rested.
John McLaren elects for Rick White. After a fly out, he intentionally walks old friend Franklin Gutierrez to get the platoon advantage on Kenny Lofton. With the count 3-2 White misses his spot. Ball four. The Mariners lose their sixth straight game. J.J. Putz would pitch the next day in a 7-5 loss, part of 15 losses in a 16 game stretch that effectively ended Seattle’s season.
After the game McLaren defended his decision by saying simply, and bafflingly: “[White] has been through the wars…” (Nathan)
8. Mario Mendoza
Mario Mendoza played nine seasons in Major League Baseball. Two of them were for the Seattle Mariners. Mendoza is not known for his defensive prowess or any specific moment in his baseball career. He is known simply for being a bad hitter. Bad enough that the unofficial line of demarcation for being a decent hitter, the bare minimum that we accept as palatable for even the best defensive players, .200, is named after him.
Despite multiple seasons hovering around this mark, his career batting average is .215. He hit .218 during his time with the Seattle Mariners. His second season with the Mariners, which came right after the phrase “Mendoza Line” had become part of the common vernacular, he hit a career best .245. But the damage had already been done. Mendoza, the Mariners, and futility, inextricably linked for the rest of baseball history. (dg)
9. Justin Smoak
Through 2014, Smoak’s last year as a Mariner, the only 1st baseman worse than him (fWAR) in the last 15 years was Daryle Ward, who was a journeyman/part-time player. Smoak, on the other hand, was given a historically generous opportunity to succeed in Seattle, fell flat on his face, and has now unlocked the full post-M’s no-reason breakout achievement in Toronto at age 30, posting a 3.4 win season after seven seasons of a combined 0.3 WAR. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Scott)
10. Goose Gossage
“But let’s get down to brass tax here. Goose Gossage insults us all with his horrible choice of facial hair, bad sunglasses fashion, and lack of wood-working skills. But more than anything else, his words have tarnished the Mariner Name. Sure, in 1994, at the tail end of his career, the Suite-est of Lou’s gave RICHARD one last chance to redeem himself for his errors in 1984, but still naught was to be gained from such tomfoolery.” (Darryl P. Skeeby)
(Part II runs tomorrow)