When a person leaves their city or country of residence and sets out across the world, they carry with them the moniker of their homeland. The longer someone resides in a new location, the more they may adopt the characteristics of their present locale, but they will always carry with them a piece of that prior residence. So too, it can be said, of baseball players. The last fortnight has been unsatisfactory for the current players on the Mariners roster, and their playoff chances rest meekly at 4.9%.
Instead of lingering on underwhelming performances from current Mariners, I have decided to construct a club that can fill fans with pride, constructed, much like many Olympic, World Cup, or World Baseball Classic rosters (I’m looking at you, Israeli National Team that I am somehow eligible for), with players boasting, on occasion, only fleeting connections to Seattle Marinerdom. This 2016 Mariners All-Star Team is solely comprised of players who spent any amount of time whatsoever in the Seattle Mariners organization, minors or majors, be they current or former players. Take heart, and know that this organization has the capacity to produce skilled ballplayers, no matter how far they may roam.
Evaluations were done mostly relying on fWAR. If I have missed someone by this standard, my apologies, and please just assume I don’t like them as a player or person.
Catcher - Wellington Castillo, ARI: 1.9 fWAR, 92 G, 100 wRC+
Mariner for: 45 days.
Castillo was a Mariner more briefly than any other member of this team, but his time since then has been filled with joy. While he does possess a .349 BABIP that is the highest of all catchers who have played in over 90 games, Castillo represents the Emerald City well in the dusty Arizona heat.
First Base - Dae-Ho Lee, SEA: 0.4 fWAR, 88 G, 105 wRC+
Mariner for: 213 days.
The power corner has not been a position of strength Mariners past or present, and our favorite Korean slugger takes this spot despite a platoon and a recent minor league stint. Lee narrowly has outperformed displaced Mariners Luis Valbuena and Kendrys Morales while playing first base, making him one of a few current Mariners proudly represented among these all-stars, and has easily outpaced them in the all-important leg kick category.
Second Base - Robinson Canó, SEA: 4.9 fWAR, 132 G, 138 wRC+
Mariner for: 996 days.
When the Mariners signed Canó, there was uncertainty about the wisdom of attributing such a massive contract to a second baseman in his early thirties. Despite existing in a year of extreme production from the second base position, Canó stands tall as the most productive Mariner, former or current, in 2016.
Shortstop - Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM: 1.6 fWAR, 112 G, 107 wRC+
Mariner for: 1,404 days.
Eduardo Peréz may have been delivering analysis for ESPN for a decade as of this year, but the man who the Mariners sent on a journey in return keeps bringing pride to those who knew him in Everett, Inland Empire, and Tacoma. A case could have been made for more recent departee Brad Miller, but Miller’s value has been split over a few positions, allowing Cabrera to narrowly eke out this prestigious starting position.
Third Base - Kyle Seager, SEA: 4.7 fWAR, 129 G, 139 wRC+
Mariner for: 2,643 days.
In his most impressive offensive season so far, Seattle’s stalwart protector of the Hawt Corner has outpaced future Hall of Famer Adrián Beltré in baseball performance, though not in the production of complicated feelings for fans.
Left Field - Michael Saunders, TOR: 2.3 fWAR, 116 G, 131 wRC+
Mariner for: 3, 831 days.
The Condor that Jack Z couldn’t abide slots in as one of the best outfielders with a Mariner legacy this season. Spending most of his time in left field, Saunders has been an excellent addition to a Toronto team has appreciated this Canadian born, Seattle honed outfielder.
Center Field - Leonys Martín, SEA: 1.9 fWAR, 116 G, 90 wRC+
Mariner for: 292 days.
The jewel of the James Jones trade has been a solid starter in center field, and while his power streak has cooled in the second half, his fiery performances and gif-worthy moments have earned him a starting position in this outfield.
He’s even done a Griffey impression or two.
Right Field - Mark Trumbo, BAL: 1.7 fWAR, 80 G, 121 wRC+
Mariner for: 182 days.
Trumbo was a Jack Z fever dream, and that dream has turned into a more damp, embarrassing version in 2016 as the powerful righty took his talents to that haven of departed Mariners, Baltimore. No less Seattle pride here, however, as Trumbo swatted 40 home runs to outpace his atrocious defense, and, while still less valuable than Nelson Cruz overall, has been the more highly rated player in right field due to greater exposure in the field.
Designated Hitter - David Ortiz, BOS: 3.7 fWAR, 124 G, 162 wRC+
Mariner for: 1,385 days.
Big Papi is the grand admiral of the 2016 All-Time Mariners ship, and the old sea dog’s final voyage has been filled with success. The rotund Red Sox’ bopper is just one of several 2016 DH’s who studied at Mariners University in their time, including the aforementioned Cruz and Trumbo, Kendrys Morales, Logan Morrison, and Alex Rodriguez.
Honorable Benchions - Adrián Beltré, 3B, TEX. Brad Miller, SS/1B, TB. Luis Valbuena, HOU, 3B/1B. Adam Jones, BAL, CF. Chris Iannetta, SEA, C. Nick Franklin, 2B/LF, TB.
#1 - Michael Pineda, NYY: 2.8 fWAR, 26 GS, 3.72 FIP
Mariner for: 2,213 days.
Despite classic stats including a 6-11 record and a 5.12 ERA indicating a lack of quality, Pineda Days have been a time worth celebrating for Mariners and Yankees fans alike this year. The big righty’s peripherals suggest he has been the best starter with a Mariner pedigree this season, a title to be proud of.
#2 Starter - James Paxton, SEA: 2.3 fWAR, 15 GS, 3.03 FIP
Mariner for: 2,279 days.
“Big Game” James, a moniker picked up after his friends mistook him for a water buffalo on a safari, has been impressive in 2016, and has been the most impressive Mariners starter this season on a per pitch basis. A strong finish and a continuation of this year’s productivity would likely see him as the ace of this list in 2017.
#3 Starter - Chris Tillman, BAL: 2.1 fWAR, 26 GS, 4.26 FIP
Mariner for: 612 days.
“Tough to Miss” Chris is the less than catchy title Tillman has earned from teammates due to his habit of producing about the same year after year, and standing directly in the middle of the clubhouse as a default when not given explicit instructions to the contrary.
#4 Starter - Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA: 1.9 fWAR, 27 GS, 4.34 FIP
Mariner for: 1,654 days.
Kuma has spent his entire career in the United States playing as a Seattle Mariner, despite two free agent stints. His 2016 numbers have shown a delightful transition in his role as second fiddle to the rock of the rotation, and he has not shied from the task.
#5 Starter - Doug Fister, HOU: 1.6 fWAR, 26 GS, 4.38 FIP
Mariner for: 1,880 days.
The tallest Doug in MLB history rounds out the rotation with a solid season laboring for the Lastros. Fans will remember the charming trade that set Fister on a path to Detroit, but welcomed Casper Wells into Seattle’s warm embrace. A victory for all involved.
Set Up Man - Mike Montgomery, CHC: 0.8 fWAR, 59 IP, 3.11 FIP
Mariner for: 477 days.
Despite a relatively brief time in the fold, MiMo became a beloved member of the Mariners alumni, and his fandom has perhaps waxed further still since his departure for the ascendant Cubs.
Closer - Edwin Díaz, SEA: 1.2 fWAR, 38.2 IP, 2.26 FIP
Mariner for: 1,551 days.
The roster ends, charmingly, with a current member of the Mariners roster. Díaz has been as a lit sconce to a man wandering the halls of an unknown castle, offering hope and possibility, if not total relief. His progression, in the bullpen or rotation, is worth eager anticipation.
The Mariners have helped produce many excellent baseball players that are contributing in 2016, and though several now play in uniforms lacking teal, they are still M’s at heart. Their joy is the Mariners’ joy, and their success is the Mariners’ success.
Smile through the tears. We’ll all be stronger for it, and one day this team will all be ours. One day.