Last weekend, Khris Davis of the Oakland Athletics hit three home runs against the Seattle Mariners. Naturally, Mariners Twitter began referring to Davis as a “Mariner Killer.” That’s understandable considering Davis has 17 homers against Seattle since joining Oakland in 2016.
Believe it or not, other active players have more bombs than Davis against Seattle. One of them hit home run number-19 against them last night— George Springer of the Houston Astros.
Once again, the term “Mariner Killer” began cropping up in the Twitter-verse and left me wondering.
Who are the all-time Mariner Killers?
Looking for a well-informed insight, I turned to a person with a wealth of Mariners knowledge: my wife. You see, my better-half has been a diehard fan for decades — long before she knew me. Without hesitation, she blurted out “Vlad Guerrero” and then went on to add she always knew her team was doomed when Pedro Martinez was pitching.
Hearing my bride’s response piqued my interest. Wanting to know who other passionate Mariners fans viewed as team killers, I turned to Twitter.
The replies I received were both interesting and diverse ranging from recent players to those long retired. There were even a few Hall of Famers sprinkled in. Here they are in no particular order:
|Mariner Killers Identified By Fans|
|Rafael Palmeiro||Mark Teixeira||Manny Ramirez|
|Jose Altuve||Mike Trout||Juan Gonzalez|
|Paul Konerko||Shohei Ohtani||Dave Henderson|
|Marcus Semien||Mariano Rivera||Jason Varitek|
|Mo Vaughn||Jim Leyritz||Jim Edmonds|
|Garrett Anderson||Eric Chavez||Carols Delgado|
|Luis Valbuena||Jim Thome||Kole Calhoun|
|Paul O’Neil||Ian Kinsler||Dave Stewart|
|Rickey Henderson||Mark Ellis||Dave Kingman|
|Kenny Lofton||Yan Gomes||Danny Tartabull|
|Brian Downing||Lance McCullers||Michael Young|
Although Shohei Ohtani has yet to face the Mariners, someone suggested him and I got a chuckle out if it. In a way, he did kill Seattle by opting to join the Los Angeles Angels.
Okay, back to the original issue of determining the all-time Mariner killer.
In reality, it’s hard to name just one player as the Mariners biggest nemesis. As the the preceding table suggests, there are plenty of players who looked forward to visiting the Kingdome or Safeco Field.
With that in mind, I decided to identify a variety of opponents that were highly successful against Seattle from a statistical standpoint. The only prerequisites for consideration was was hitters had to have at least 150 plate appearances against the Mariners. For pitchers, the cutoff was 100 innings pitched.
Home Run King — Rafael Palmeiro (52)
As a long-time Texas Ranger, Palmeiro had plenty of opportunities to hit bombs against the Mariners. In total, he played 216 games and had 917 plate appearances.
The 2001 season was a particularly good one for Seattle and Palmeiro. The Mariners won 116 games and Palmeiro crushed 10 long balls and had two multi-homers games. That said; the Rangers only went 4-4 in the games the native Cuban went deep.
Hit King – Cal Ripken Jr. (261)
Considering the number of games Ripken played during his 21-game career, it shouldn’t be a surprise he’d have the most hits by an opponent.
In fact, the Hall of Famer appeared in more games (229) against Seattle than any other player. Palmeiro (216) and Harold Baines (213) were right behind him.
Best OPS – Carlos Delgado (1.191)
As you all know, OPS is the sum of on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Delgado holds the top spot in both categories against the Mariners. The left-handed slugger did the vast majority of his damage as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
In 1999, Delgado had six home runs and a .1.579 OPS during nine contests against Seattle. That season, the native of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico was especially lethal, although he did well against the rest of the league too with a .272/.377/.571 triple-slash.
Highest Batting Average — Cliff Johnson (.353)
Yes, batting average isn’t the most effective measure of hitting proficiency. But I figured I’d throw it in since this piece is rife with nostalgia. So why not throw in an old-fashioned stat for old times’ sake?
Having said that, Johnson is the player with the highest batting average versus the Mariners. The former catcher and first baseman had 180 plate appearances and also notched a 1.003 OPS.
Runners-up: Delgado (.351), J.T. Snow (.348), Boggs (.342)
Stolen Base King — Rickey Henderson (93)
Again, probably not a surprise that the all-time stolen base leader would have the owned Seattle in this category.
Henderson’s 85-percent success rate versus the Mariners was four points better than his career rate against all opponents. He also hit 16 home runs and had an .828 OPS against Seattle.
At age-41, Henderson played with the Mariners in 2000. Despite being well past his prime, the 10-time all-star swiped 31 bags. It would mark the last time he’d steal 30-plus bases in a season.
Mr. Double — Garret Anderson (56)
The two-time Silver Slugger winner played 14 full seasons with the Angels and faced the Mariners in 206 games during his career.
Despite his ability to hit two-baggers against Seattle, Anderson had a rather pedestrian .306 OBP against them; 18 points below his career average.
Mr. Walkabout — Frank Thomas (132 Walks)
This should be a non-surprise to fans. Thomas ranks tenth all-time with 1,667 career walks. Not only did the Big Hurt earn a ton of free passes, he clobbered 23 home runs.
Thomas’ knack for reaching base explains why the Hall of Fame first baseman and designated hitter has the third highest OBP (.419) ever recorded by a right-handed hitter with 3,000-plus plate appearances.
Who’s just behind Thomas? Mariners-icon Edgar Martinez (.418).
Runners-up: Rickey Henderson (131), Boggs (115), Palmeiro (105)
Property Of The Seattle Mariners – Josh Donaldson
Not every great player had their way with the Mariners. Donaldson has a putrid .581 OPS after 255 encounters with Mariner pitchers.
Last year was the first time the former AL MVP was above the ..635-mark when he posted posted a 1.212 OPS during the extremely small sample size of 13 plate appearances.
Feel The Breeze — Jose Canseco (150 Strikeouts)
Despite such a high strikeout total, Canseco managed to hit 28 home runs and maintain an .827 OPS.
The veteran of 17 seasons also stole 22 bases and walked 71 times during 130 games.
Target Zero — Don Baylor (20 HBP)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the player hit by a pitch 267 times during his big league career is tops in this category. Baylor was good at other things too.
The late-great hit 24 home runs and 24 doubles against the Mariners during 19 seasons.
I’m sure some Seattle fans will feel a twinge of satisfaction seeing that A-Rod made this list.
Strikeout King — Roger Clemens (274)
The seven-time Cy Young award winner was particularly brutal between 1987 and 1991 when he notched a 1.43 ERA during 10 starts — including eight complete games.
Overall, the University of Texas product had a career 2.56 ERA and had 12 complete games against the Mariners. That ties him for most with Mike Witt.
Who’s Your Daddy? – Pedro Martinez
For this category, I didn’t rely on one specific statistic and my selection may face resistance from some of you depending on your personal opinions and recollections.
That’s cool. But, as I see it, Martinez owned the Mariners better than any other starting pitcher.
Pedro only faced Seattle 14 times, which is 30 fewer than Clemens. But he was electric. During 103 innings pitched, the Hall of Famer averaged 12 SO/9, posted a 1.57 ERA, and held the team to a .177 batting average.
Besides, my wife said so. What’s a guy to do?
Modern Day Killer — Mike Trout
What would a list by me be if it didn’t include Mike Trout? Boring.
Among active players, the South Jersey native has been among the most lethal to the Mariners. At least that’s how I see it.
Trout has already netted 11 stolen bases, eight triples, and 24 home runs and is slashing .300/.395/.565 against Seattle. Oh yeah, and he’s just 26-years-old.
Modern Day Stopper — C.C. Sabathia
The New York Yankees left-hander may be getting long in the tooth, but he’s been a deterrent to the Mariners since he broke into the majors in 2001. Sabathia’s 2.57 ERA is the best among active starters with 80-plus innings.
It appears another southpaw is ready to wrest the title from Sabathia though — Dallas Keuchel. The Astro hurler has held Mariner hitters to a .209 batting average and a 2.67 ERA during 16 games. Keuchel continue his dominance last night at Safeco Field, although the home team won by a narrow 2-1 margin.
Keuchel’s teammate — Justin Verlander — has enjoyed great success too. In 24 starts, the Old Dominion University Monarch boasts a 9.1 SO/9 rate and a .236 opponent batting average.
I didn’t want to exclude any of the players mentioned on Twitter because I enjoyed hearing from Mariners fans last night. So here are the stat lines of the hitters not covered in detail, who proved to be proficient.
Not to forget the pitchers, here are the three names mentioned on Twitter. Some were better than others. All were pretty good.
There were several players suggested, who didn’t feel like “Mariner Killers” to me in any way. I’m not saying they weren’t good or never succeeded against Seattle. But they didn’t perform at the same super high level as everyone already discussed. Still, I wanted to share their names.
By now, it’s pretty obvious to me, and probably you, that there are plenty of Mariner Killers out there. Who we perceive as a killer of our favorite teams can sometimes be skewed by a small sample size or a bitter memory from a defeat at the hands of this player.
It’s also important to recognize many of the names I’ve mentioned owned a lot of teams. There’s a reason many of them are Hall of Famers or trending towards Cooperstown.
Still, these kind of projects are so much fun. I hope you feel the same way. There really is no wrong answer to the question, but the conversations are stimulating.
I guess I would say that about any topic involving baseball.