I was getting prepared to start writing this, and then Matthew told me from the next room over that the Sounders just made a huge and hugely controversial trade. So it's not like this post is going to be read by anybody anyway, since Seattle-area sports fans are all reading about that. But I'm still going to get this out there, because my whole life people have told me that I shouldn't bottle things up, since that just leads to an explosion. You shouldn't ever bottle anything up. Except so, so many delicious things.
A link was passed along to me today, to a post on a blog called Plunk Everyone. Within the post, the author went team-by-team and identified the ten all-time players (each) who had the highest winning percentages when they were in the starting lineup. The example given in the intro is that the won 58 percent of their games when Tony Womack was in the starting lineup. That example immediately tells you that what follows is more interesting than meaningful, but there's room for things to be both interesting and meaningful. I think the Mariners' list is both interesting and meaningful. The Mariners' list:
- , 61.3%
- John Olerud, 58.7%
- , 54.6%
- Dan Wilson, 53.3%
- , 51.6%
- , 51.2%
- Jay Buhner, 49.1%
- Ken Griffey Jr., 49.1%
- Ichiro, 48.8%
- , 47.2%
I definitely wasn't expecting to see Richie Sexson pop up, but then it's not like 47.2% is anything to be proud of. More significant is the guy at the very top. The Mariners have had a higher winning percentage with Mike Cameron in the starting lineup than they have with any other player in the starting lineup in franchise history (given a 500-start minimum).
Setting the start minimum at 500 admittedly keeps the player pool pretty small. And a huge part of Cameron's record is that he was a Mariner at the right time, since those 2000-2003 teams were something else. But then Cameron was also a huge part of those 2000-2003 teams. According to Baseball-Reference, his four-year WAR was 19.0. According to FanGraphs, his four-year WAR was 19.7. Players with similar WARs over the same span of time: Jorge Posada, Larry Walker, Bret Boone and Shawn Green. I am very much aware of the limitations of WAR, but this is just to illustrate the point that Mike Cameron was fuckin awesome.
And then his contract ran out and the Mariners didn't offer him arbitration. He was 30 years old, coming off a season in which he was worth about five wins at a $7 million salary, and the Mariners didn't offer him arbitration. They just let him go. They signed Raul Ibanez for three years, and they just let Cammy go, without so much as a compensation pick. You can try to read the explanation here, but I should warn you that it's very stupid. We had a good idea that it was stupid at the time. We have a better idea that it was stupid now. So stupid. The Mike Cameron situation isn't why the Mariners went from being very good to very bad, but it was a contributor.
Mike Cameron: awesome Seattle Mariner, and current owner of afranchise record. It's a shame the way it wound up, but at least we got to have Cammy for a while, and at least for his sake he got out before shit turned rotten. I suppose it's all in how you look at it.