I often worry about relief pitchers getting lonely. They are the only group of players who get physically separated from the rest of the team, and sometimes they don’t even get to pitch! Imagine if you’re a reliever and your best friend is a starting pitcher. He’s not throwing that day. You think you’ll get some quality time with him on the top step of the dugout, ragging on the Angels and spraying sunflower shells with reckless abandon.
Then, what’s this? The manager has the nerve, the unmitigated GALL, to ask you to do your job?!?! All of a sudden you have to jog all the way from the dugout to the bullpen (in front of thousands of people, no less) just to sit there and watch the game from a different part of the park? At best, you throw a 1-2-3 inning and head back to the dugout to see your friends. At worse, you get hot a couple times, but continue to sit back down, the manager deeming you unnecessary on that particular night.
Then what? You just put on one of those big jackets and listen to some guy go from “I swear I’m over it” to “I really love you guys” to “Screw it, I’m not going to the office tomorrow” with each new Rainier purchase? That doesn’t seem fun. It’s these kind of things that should really drive pitchers to become a starter rather than a reliever.
Nevertheless, relievers are a very important part of baseball. A couple good seasons out of the pen, and boom, you’re a beloved fan favorite. A couple bad seasons out of the pen, though, and it’s time to look for apartment listings in Korea. On this week’s Sporcle quiz, you will unearth the 20 best individual seasons by a Seattle Mariner reliever.
Some gems in this battered and diverse treasure chest include a player from the team’s very first season, one from both of the team’s fairy tale seasons, and several people who were not the team’s closer for that particular season but probably should have been. As alluded to in the sub headline, this list is ordered by FanGraphs’ version of WAR, which is unkind to a certain Japanese folk hero. Neither of the Mariners most famous Japanese relievers made the cut, in fact, and neither did two of the more memorable relievers from the mid-2000s.