Hello and welcome back to FanPost Friday. A historic Mariners season is over, the World Series is nearly over, and the Hot Stove is still on the pre-heat setting. So, it’s the perfect time for a complete nonsense FPF theme: assigning the 2022 Seattle Mariners players to their spiritual counterparts on the 22-23 Seattle Kraken!
I’ve kept the idea for this week’s post in my pocket since last year, but the Kraken were really bad and it kinda took a while for me to get a good feel for personalities on the team. They kept most of the better players from last season and added a good chunk of new ones, in addition to the prospect talent from the last two drafts, and the team is off to a much better start this season and is generally more fun to watch. They can actually score goals now when they need to! Can they prevent goals when they need to? Well, still not as often as we’d like.
Anyways, as the LL staff’s most weathered and “knowledgeable” hockey fan (I got obsessed with hockey in the mid-90’s, played in Tacoma through my teens, and currently play goalie in a whale shit adult rec league at the Kraken Ice Complex, let’s go BIRRDS!), I am regrettably the most qualified to make these apples to oranges comparisons. Bear with me here, because some of these connections are loose at best. Turns out hockey players and baseball players really don’t have a ton in common besides looking great with long hair in uniform. But I gave it a shot, and y’all are welcome to make your picks as well in the comments, especially for players I skipped over since I mostly only did Mariners position players and starting pitchers. I will also try to explain any hockey rule references that may be lost on anyone new or casual to the sport (Believe me, I still get icing wrong OFTEN even while I’m playing the game. It’s confusing!).
Here are links to the Mariners 2022 roster and the current Kraken roster.
Okay, let’s drop the puck on this beauty, eh?!
Ty France = Jared McCann
Jared McCann was the leading goal-scorer (27) and points-earner (50—you get one point for a goal, one point for an assist) for the Kraken last season and unless you were actively following the team, you probably didn’t know that or even know his name, right? He’s not particularly flashy, his personality is as standard hockey pro as they come, but he is constantly putting points on the board. Sounds like a certain DH/1B we know who does nothing but hit baseballs and get on base when healthy, right?
Carlos Santana = Justin Schultz
Last season, this would have obviously been the 40-year-old Captain Mark Giordano (Captains and Alternates, noted by a C or A on the chest of their sweaters, are seen as the team leaders and are the only ones who are traditionally “allowed” to discuss/argue a call with the head referee and relay information to the bench), but Giordano was traded at the deadline last season and the team is going with a rotation of Alternates this season instead of choosing a new Captain just yet. But, as the now oldest position player (32), Justin Schultz has had a career that spans roughly the same time frame as Santana’s and that’s about the best connection I can find between them.
Adam Frazier = Jordan Eberle
Both Frazier and Eberle are mid-career-ish and have probably seen their most productive days as athletes come and go, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come through when it matters and still wow some folks. Eberle, a one-time 34 goals scorer, nabbed the Kraken franchise’s first hat trick (three goals in one game) last season. Frazier, fresh off an All-Star season with the hapless Pirates, came to Seattle and slumped often but hung in there and delivered clutch hits to help defeat the Blue Jays in the Wild Card round. I could see them hanging out and getting along brilliantly.
J.P. Crawford = Brandon Tanev
J.P. is known as the current clubhouse leader, or at least one of them. He’s the guy getting them fired up in the dugout, keeping them focused, and not letting anyone get too down. Brandon Tanev seems like that guy for the Kraken. Known as “Turbo” to many and also known for his wide-eyed official team photos, always seems to provide a little extra spark and hustle when the team needs it on the ice. He went down with a knee injury last December and missed the rest of the season and the team was much poorer for it. Whenever J.P. is hurt or slumping, the team feels it. When he’s going right or perhaps delivering a collision-fueled bloop double in the playoffs? Oh yeah, you know the Mariners are gonna win.
Eugenio Suárez = Yanni Gourde
Yanni is perhaps my favorite current Kraken player as he personifies the classic undersized modern grinder archetype, but also with great puck-handling and scoring abilities. He is constantly firing the team up from the bench and on the ice. That’s Eugenio, too, right? Always upbeat, never letting himself get too down, and always lifting his teammates up with his “good vibes only” mindset. Where they differ, I think, is how Yanni can be the guy getting under the skin of his opponents by chirping them, being annoyingly physical, and ideally drawing penalties. That’s an honest-to-god skillset in hockey that doesn’t really have an analog in baseball, but the thing about Yanni is that he’s literally always smiling even when he’s talking shit and even when he has to drop the gloves and fight. That’s how I’d imagine Eugenio doing it all, too, with a big ol’ grin on his face.
Mitch Haniger = Jaden Schwartz
Both Haniger and Schwartz have struggled with pesky injuries, but when they’re healthy, they’re very productive and it’s a huge boon to their respective teams. Schwartz was out for most of last season, and now he’s back and a top-three points earner. Haniger personally put the team on his back in 2021, missed much of 2022, but came back in time to help the team on their playoff run.
Julio Rodríguez = Matty Beniers
Aw, yeah. Here’s the good stuff. Again, this is apples to oranges, but both players are the young, franchise-cornerstone stars of their teams. Julio is definitely more established in that regard, having a full, potential Rookie of the Year Award-winning season under his belt, but the Legend of Matty B grows by the game this season for the Kraken (Matty’s last name is pronounced like “Ben-nears” just FYI). In case you hadn’t heard, the Kraken struggled to score goals last season! It was rough. Similar to basketball, in hockey sometimes one single player can literally take over a game offensively. Your Gretzkys, your Jagrs, your Pavel Bures, your (barfs in hat) Connor McDavids. Matty has those elite puck-handling and shooting skills, similar to Julio’s elite bat speed, foot speed, and top-tier centerfield defense. Both Matty and Julio can change the direction of a game on any given pitch or puck possession. They’re both that special and we are so fortunate as Seattle sports fans to get to watch them both evolve and become superstars.
NHL Video Highlight - Matty Beniers scores a power-play goal against the Buffalo Sabres to make it 5-1. pic.twitter.com/jzdtLA3LF0— Seattle Kraken Gamebot (@KrakenGameBot) October 26, 2022
Jarred Kelenic = Shane Wright
Not the most fair or exact comparison, but #4 pick overall Shane Wright is the youngest player on the team with the highest unmet expectations (I mean he’s 18 and is a month into his NHL career, so yeah, chill out). Kelenic has obviously had more time and chances to meet his lofty expectations, but both carry the label of having too much hype to possibly fail, so when they struggle people are going to freak the hell the out. Again, not really fair to literal teenager Wright who has PLENTY of time to adjust to the NHL before anyone should even remotely freak out, but you know, sports fans are not famously rational (Fun fact: Wright wears number 51, so another potential Seattle sports legend in the making, right?).
Cal Raleigh = Jamie Oleksiak
I struggled coming up for a comparison for Cal. Despite the similarities in the catcher and goaltender positions, none of the Kraken tendies have anywhere close to the same personality as Cal, nor have any of them had a moment even approaching the magnitude of Cal’s drought-ending, pinch-hit home run that I will literally never stop thinking about. That said, attitude and demeanor-wise, I think the very tall defenseman Jamie Oleksiak would get along great with Cal. They’d probably say like 10 words between them and become the best of pals. Big Rig and Big Dumper, what’s not to like? (Fun fact: Oleksiak wears number 24, so naturally cool as hell).
Luis Castillo = Andre Burakovsky
While Andre Burakovsky’s value/production is not quite at the level of value/production that Luis Castillo brought to the Mariners last season, Burky is definitely the best free agent acquisition the Kraken have made so far in their short history. He’s currently a top-three points earner on the squad and has been a much-needed boost to the team’s goal-scoring ability. Not quite MLB ace level like Castillo, but hey, it’ll work.
Logan Gilbert = Carson Soucy
Soucy, whose last name already fits the standard hockey player nickname format, has been a solid role player-type defensemen for the Kraken, while Gilbert (affectionately known to some as LoGi Bear aka Walter) fully stepped into his role last season as a top-of-the-rotation beastly right-hander. But guess what, with Soucy’s skates on, they’re both about 6’-6”....yeah that’s all I got, sorry.
Robbie Ray = Vince Dunn
Again, not really an analog on the Kraken for “star pitcher coming off Cy Young Award-winning season who mostly underwhelms and then shits the bed in the playoffs,” but both players have spent time living in Ontario.
Marco Gonzales = Martin Jones
Weird to compare a pitcher to a goalie, right? Well, not that weird, actually. Similar to a quarterback in football, there is only one of each on the playing surface at a time and that pitcher/goalie/QB are often the single point of blame when a game goes poorly for their team. But vibe-wise, I see a lot of similarities between Martin Jones, the unlikely current starting goaltender for the Kraken, and Marco Gonzales. Both players are entering the latter part of their athletic primes, both have gritted through adversity to get where they are, and uhhhh both have spent a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest (Gonzales at Gonzaga and Jones is from Vancouver, BC). Another similarity is that both have been the “unlikely guy” at their respective positions at times. Marco, despite never having typical “ace” stuff, was basically the team’s ace for many stretches from 2017 through 2020. Jones, after spending years in relative obscurity in San Jose as their starter, probably thought he was heading into back-up goaltender mode for the rest of his career until getting this current shot with the Kraken due to both their top tendies being injured. And he’s thriving at the moment, collecting a shutout victory last night against the Minnesota Wild.
George Kirby = Morgan Geekie
I couldn’t come up with anyone who really matches up with George Kirby, so this is purely based on the vibes and connotations from their last names. Kraken fans love repping “the Geek Squad” and Mariners fans love making Kirby’s Dreamland/Nintendo references while expressing their love for George. Good enough.
Jesse Winker = Philip Grubauer
Saw this a few weeks ago and it will probably never leave my brain.
Phillip Grubauer is the Jesse Winker of the Kraken— Curtis Rogers (@AKidFromKent) October 18, 2022
There’s really no further connection between them than just the fact that they are both huge free agent disappointments relative to their salaries and expectations. Super unfair to both these fellas, who still absolutely have time to turn things around, and I sincerely hope they both do.
Ken Giles = Chris Driedger
Also unfair, but both have been injured constantly during their time with their respective teams. Driedger, however, has never punched himself in the face during a game, although as a goalie that is certainly an urge you have to fight sometimes when a bouncing puck hits you and then manages to roll around you and into the goal anyways. It’s rough job, folks, be kind to your goalies (and relievers).
That’s it for me! Let’s hear your picks in the comments! I’m also very down to answer any hockey-related questions from folks still learning/curious about the game, so ask away. Finally, I have to give a quick pitch for our SB Nation homies over at Davy Jones Locker Room who have done an excellent job since last season covering the team and also helping education new fans on the game. Go give ‘em a read and pop into the comments, it’s very appreciated.