Mariners' Top 5 second basemen: Johns' take

April 6th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only. If you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Greg Johns’ ranking of the top five second basemen in Mariners history. Next week: third basemen.

1. Bret Boone, 1992-93, 2001-05
Key fact: His 141 RBIs in 2001 are fourth in Mariners single-season history

had two stints with Seattle. He started his career in a limited role for two years after being drafted in the fifth round in 1990 out of USC. Then Boone starred on the outstanding teams of the early 2000s after being brought back as a free agent.

A solid argument could be made for Robinson Canó, but Boone gets a slight nod thanks to his huge production in the 116-win season of 2001, when he hit .331/.372/.578 with 37 homers and an American League-leading 141 RBIs. Only Hall of Famers (twice) and (once) have driven in more runs in a season for Seattle.

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In his second stint with the Mariners, Boone was a two-time All-Star (2001 and ’03), three-time Gold Glove winner (’02-04) and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner (’01 and ’03). His 8.8 bWAR in ’01 is seventh-best in Mariners history and No. 3 by an infielder, behind only ’s 1996 and 2000 seasons. Boone finished third that season in the American League MVP voting behind teammate and Oakland’s .

Boone is first among Mariners second basemen in home runs (142), RBIs (531) and slugging percentage (.479).

2. Robinson Canó, 2014-18
Key fact: Was an All-Star in three of his five seasons in Seattle

is the biggest free agent ever signed by the Mariners, agreeing to a 10-year, $240 million contract after nine seasons with the Yankees. While Seattle never reached the playoffs in his five seasons before Canó was traded to the Mets, he produced a strong .296/.353/.472 line with 107 homers and 411 RBIs in 704 games.

Canó's tenure was marred by an 80-game suspension for a failed drug test in 2018, but he earned AL All-Star bids in ’14, ’16 and ’17. He has the highest bWAR of all Mariners second basemen, 23.3.

3. Harold Reynolds, 1983-92
Key fact: First among Seattle second basemen in games played

Best known now as a studio analyst for MLB Network, was a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner during his 10 seasons with the Mariners. Reynolds holds franchise records for most games (1,133), plate appearances (4,564), hits (1,060), runs (536), doubles (200) and triples (48) as a second baseman.

Reynolds’ 228 stolen bases rank third in Mariners history regardless of position, and he led the AL with 60 stolen bases in 1987, his first year as an All-Star. The speedster also led the AL in triples with 11 in 1988.

4. Joey Cora, 1995-98
Key fact: .355 on-base percentage as a Mariners second baseman

was a popular and productive figure on the 1995 team that won a lot of hearts -- as well as the club’s first AL West title. The diminutive Cora signed as a free agent that year and then posted a .297/.359/.372 line and stole 18 bases in 120 games and provided some highlight moments in the dramatic AL Division Series victory over the Yankees. He led off the 11th-inning rally in Game 5 with a drag bunt and then scored the tying run on Martinez’s walk-off two-run double.

Cora batted .300/.359/.441 with 11 home runs in 1997, when he earned the lone All-Star berth in his 11-year Major League career.

5. Julio Cruz, 1977-83
Key fact: Stole 290 bases in seven seasons

Julio Cruz was a classic leadoff man in the franchise’s initial years, stealing 43 or more bases for the Mariners in five straight seasons, including a career-best 59 in 1978. His 290 stolen bases with the Mariners rank second to Ichiro’s 438 in franchise history.

After being acquired from the Angels in the 1976 Expansion Draft, Cruz posted a .243/.327/.307 line in 742 games before being traded to the White Sox midway through the ’83 season.

Honorable mention
was a 2006 All-Star for Seattle and put up a .400 slugging percentage in seven seasons for the Mariners with 80 homers, including a career-best 25 in ’09.