Mariners' Top 5 third basemen: Johns' take

April 13th, 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.

Mariners' All-Time Team: C | 1B | 2B

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

1) , 2011-present
Key fact: His 30.7 fWAR is higher than the next three ranked Mariners third basemen combined

While Edgar Martinez played 564 games at third base in his Hall of Fame career that represented just 27.4 percent of his career starts, so he’ll be considered only at designated hitter in this series. That leaves Seager as the clear choice here as he leads all Mariners third basemen in nearly every statistical category.

Seager has been Seattle’s starter at the hot corner for 8 1/2 seasons since making his MLB debut midway through 2011, and he is the runaway leader in hits (1,218), doubles (268), home runs (198), RBIs (666) and runs (597) while putting up a career slash line of .256/.324/.443.

The 32-year-old has been a model of durability and consistency. He played in 154-plus games for seven consecutive seasons until being limited to 106 games last year due to a torn ligament in his right hand and has hit 20-plus homers for eight seasons in a row. His 1,225 games at third base is second only to Evan Longoria among all active MLB third basemen.

Seager was an American League All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner in 2014, and he finished 12th in AL MVP Award voting in '16, when he posted the highest bWAR season by any Seattle third baseman at 6.7 while hitting .278 with 30 home runs. He has two of the top three bWAR seasons ever by a Mariners third baseman -- split only by Martinez in '92 -- and five of the top 11.

“For me, Kyle is the metronome that just keeps ticking,” said Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. “He plays every day, he plays quality defense and with the exception of what I’d call an interlude, a brief time we saw the dropoff in production in 2018, his performance has been remarkably consistent across the board. For a five-year stretch, he was one of the 10 to 12 most valuable players in the American League by virtue of WAR.

“He does things you don’t really notice. He has a high baseball IQ, good aptitude. I hate to use a simple phrase, but Kyle is reliable. He doesn’t strike you as a flashy, star-like player, but when all is said and done, his career opus is going to stand up pretty nicely next to the guys you did consider stars.”

2) Adrián Beltré, 2005-09
Key fact: His 16.1 fWAR in five seasons is second only to Seager

Beltré retired in 2018 after an outstanding 21-year MLB career, and he will likely be a first-ballot National Baseball Hall of Fame selection when his time comes in '24, but his five seasons in Seattle were among his worst statistically as he played before T-Mobile Park’s fences were moved in to make a better hitting environment for right-handed batters.

After signing a five-year, $64 million free-agent deal, Beltre’s slash line with the Mariners was .266/.317/.442 with 103 homers and 396 RBIs in 715 games. He never made the AL All-Star team during that time, but was a two-time Gold Glove Award winner in 2007-08.

Beltre went on to earn four All-Star berths and three more Gold Glove Awards in nine seasons with Boston and Texas after leaving Seattle, finishing his career with 3,166 hits, 477 homers and the seventh-highest career fWAR of any third baseman in MLB history at 84.1.

3) Mike Blowers, 1992-99
Key fact: Holds the top batting average, OBP and slugging percentage of any Mariners 3B

The hometown kid from Spanaway, Wash., wound up playing three stints with the Mariners and was an integral part of the 1995 playoff team, hitting .257 with 23 homers and 96 RBIs in 134 games.

Initially acquired by trade from the Yankees in 1992, he played four seasons in Seattle before being traded to the Dodgers. He re-signed with the Mariners as a free agent in '97 and hit .293 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 68 games, then went to Oakland for a year. Blowers played in Japan in '99 before re-signing with Seattle for the September stretch run that year and playing 19 more games before retiring at age 34.

Blowers owns the highest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of any Mariners third baseman with more than 28 career starts at .270/.343/.448. He totaled 55 homers, 231 RBIs and 6.2 fWAR in 464 games for the Mariners, and he continues working with the club as a part of the broadcast crew.

4) Jim Presley, 1984-89
Key fact: Second to Seager in most HRs with 115

A fourth-round Draft pick of the Mariners in 1979, Presley provided plenty of pop for some of the early Seattle clubs. His 28 homers in '85 is the second-best single season for a Mariners third baseman, and he hit 27 in '86 as well when he was selected to the AL All-Star team.

Though he struggled at times defensively, Presley produced a .250/.293/.426 line with 115 homers, 418 RBIs and 4.8 fWAR in 799 games with Seattle before being traded to the Braves in '90. He’s second only to Seager in games, homers and RBIs among Mariners’ third basemen.

5) David Bell, 1998-2001
Key fact: Started 135 games at 3B for the 116-win team in 2001

Bell was acquired by trade from the Indians in August of '98 for the popular Joey Cora and wound up being the starting third baseman for the next three full seasons, posting a .262/.320/.412 line with 47 homers, 197 RBIs and 5.6 fWAR.

An excellent defender, Bell was part of an outstanding infield that helped the 2001 club tie for the most wins in Major League history. Bell retired after a 12-year career in '06 and is now is the manager of the Reds.