In a few hours time, Jamie Moyer will officially be inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. He will be joining Alvin Davis, Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson, Dan Wilson, Ken Griffey Jr, and Lou Piniella. Although the M's HOF isn't nearly as prestigious as Major League Baseball's Hall in Cooperstown, this is still a very good group of players. As the current franchise wins leader and a gentleman who was a dependable part of the Mariners franchise for more than a decade, Jamie definitely deserves this type of honor and recognition.
With this impending induction, a few of the writers here at Lookout Landing got to thinking: If we could induct one other eligible player in Mariners franchise history into the M's Hall of Fame, who would that player be? Below are a few brief, sometimes silly, thoughts.
Colin presents a case for Bret Boone
Andrew presents a case for Freddy Garcia
The argument for Freddy, in many ways, is very similar to the one Colin made for Bret Boone: he was a major part of the four best seasons in Mariners history. Garcia pitched for Seattle for more than five years, between 1999 and 2004, peaking (as many of his teammates did) during Seattle's magical 2001 season when he was the best pitcher on the best team in franchise history. It is impossible to think back to the juggernaut Mariners who won 393 games in the first four years of the 21st century without picturing the confident visage of Freddy Garcia.
Admittedly, there is a trio of pitchers who started their careers with the M's in the 1980s (Mike Moore, Erik Hanson, and Mark Langston) who likely deserve this honor just as much as Freddy (if not more), but I did not grow up watching those guys pitch, so when it came time for me to pick someone to write about I went with The Chief. A lot of the more advanced rate statistics that we use today were still being developed when Freddy was honing his craft with the M's, so we're left with what our eyeballs told us and some more "classic" counting stats. Below are a few of those numbers and where Freddy ranks among the 353 different pitchers who have worn Mariners blue.
|Numbers with the M's
|Wins (M's rank)
Although Freddy missed about half of the season in 2000 due to injury, during his time with the Mariners there was no pitcher (not even Jamie) who was more valuable to his team. At 6'4" and 255 lbs, Freddy looked like quite the dominating figure, but he wasn't quite the fireball hurler that you might expect from such a big man. (He only struck out more than 10 hitters in a game twice while wearing a Mariners uniform.) Instead, Garcia relied on complementing his fastball with a hard slider and throwing some occasional off-speed stuff to keep hitters off-balance. He was also wild at times, uncorking 43 wild pitches (top-5 in the league during that period) and running a BB/9 rate of 3.19 during his time with the M's. And yet he persevered, finding ways to win some of the biggest games in Mariners history.
Maybe, if the Mariners wanted to keep their Hall of Fame super exclusive, they wouldn't include Garcia. This honor would be reserved for the Griffeys and the Randys and the Edgars and the Ichiros and the Felixes of the world. But it seems like the Mariners are willing to sacrifice some of this exclusivity by inducting fun, nice, maybe not the very best players who played a large role back when the Mariners were good (I'm looking at you, Dan Wilson). I have no problem with this; a bigger Hall is likely a more fun hall and gives the team more excuses to throw luncheon parties and make ridiculous bobbleheads. As such, Freddy Garcia deserves to get the call.
Nathan presents a case for Raul Ibanez
The case for Raul Ibanez begins and ends with his swing, which was hideous. It was a swing assembled by a quack doctor from the trash bin of cast-aside hitting mechanics. The head was impossibly angled, as though every pitch were a question to be answered. The lower half, while strong, appeared to operate independently from the torso. It was as if Ibanez was one of those giant robots in Pacific Rim and his body had two pilots; one for the upper half and one for the lower.
His hands, always key for a hitter, just friggin’ sat there. His bald head would cock like a confused ostrich, his hips would fly open, the shoulders would turn, and still his dumb hands would just sit there, like a loud, drunk party guest that hasn’t realized they're the last one there. "Oh shit", you could imagine the hands saying, before they flew to catch up to the rest of that annoying comedic assemblage of limb and torque. Somehow, the hands would get there. One hundred and fifty-six times as a Mariner, the whole ugly spectacle gave way to triumph and joy.
Raul Ibanez’s time as a Mariner is an epoch of unexpected success, absurd loyalty, and preposterous endurance. In many ways Raul is the true, though vastly inferior, successor to Edgar Martinez. A 36th round draft pick out of high school it would take seven years in the minor leagues before Raul even garnered 200 plate appearances in a season in the major leagues. One of those plate appearances was on July 17, 1999 when Carlos Reyes left a 1-1 pitch up and Raul hit it out to right for the first grand slam in Safeco Field history.
Raul and Safeco really fit well together in my mind. The beautiful stadium has seen the greatest baseball team any of us will ever see, yes. But it is defined by this continuing malaise that has only occasionally seen fit to give us something worth getting excited about. Raul was one of the those things, to varying degrees of frustration, each of the three times the Mariners acquired him and put him out in
right left field. He was, um, not good out there.
Ibanez is not a shoe-in for the Mariners Hall of Fame; I doubt I could make a case for that. His defense, so immortalized in the annals of this very website, is mostly atrocious. In fact, I don’t think I would have made this argument for his induction had it not been for 2013.
Signing Raul Ibanez to play for the 2013 Mariners was a bad decision by Jack Zduriencik; another in his litany of turning a blind eye to everything about baseball other than the ability to whomp a pitch over the fence. The team was unready to contend in any meaningful way and Raul was in his forties. But Raul spent his career making fire out of the ash people threw on his grave. He hit only two home runs in April but then seven in May. June saw 10 more and by the time he took Garrett Richards deep into the Seattle gloaming on July 12th, Raul Ibanez had hit a preposterous 24 home runs before the All-Star break.
In 2014 he bounced helplessly between the Angels and Royals before hanging it up. That last year his OPS was a mere 0.549. It couldn’t last. How could it? But Raul had made his last stand, and he had made it in a Mariners uniform. A man the game barely gave a chance, who never looked like he belonged, took a larger chunk of success out of its hide than any thought possible. Raul Ibanez was an aesthetically nightmarish, nonsensical success. The Mariners have had many greater players, but perhaps none who greater personified who they are as a franchise.