SEATTLE -- The Mariners have done well in landing some pretty prominent players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in recent years, a run that includes Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez over the past six elections.
So we’re taking a look at the best retired players with Mariners’ ties who are NOT in the Hall of Fame. This isn’t a list of who we expect will be the next former Mariner elected, but rather just the best players who have some history with Seattle and aren’t in the Hall at this point.
And it’s a pretty good group.
1. Alex Rodriguez
This one comes with some controversy -- and we’re certainly not suggesting Rodriguez will be the next former Mariner inducted into Cooperstown -- given A-Rod’s association with performance-enhancing drugs and a suspension that led to him missing the entire 2014 season while with the Yankees.
Rodriguez received 35% of the vote in his first year on the ballot in 2022, and he'll be a fascinating case over the next nine years that he's eligible after both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were left out and are no longer eligible via the BBWAA vote. But if you’re asking who is the best former Mariner not in the Hall of Fame, Rodriguez figures as a pretty clear No. 1.
In a 22-year career that started with seven seasons at shortstop in Seattle, A-Rod racked up 696 home runs, fourth on MLB’s all-time list behind only Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. He’s also fourth in RBIs behind Aaron, Ruth and Albert Pujols. Rodriguez doesn’t just rank among the best former Mariners, he stands firmly among baseball’s all-time greats and was a 14-time All-Star and three-time MVP Award winner.
2. Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro most likely will be the next Hall of Fame inductee who chooses to wear a Mariners cap on his Cooperstown plaque, and there’s some thought that he has a shot at joining Derek Jeter as the next unanimous first-ballot inductee when he becomes eligible in 2025.
If this were a popularity contest, Ichiro undoubtedly would be No. 1 as he doesn’t have A-Rod’s baggage and boasts some pretty spectacular achievements of his own, though when it comes to career WAR, A-Rod’s 117.5 is well ahead of Ichiro’s 59.7, per Baseball-Reference.
Despite not arriving in the Majors until age 27, the slender Suzuki became a 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner while with Seattle. He finished his career ranked 24th all-time in hits (3,089), sixth in singles ( 2,514) and 35th in stolen bases (509).
Ichiro was both the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year Award winner in 2001 with the Mariners, and he came full circle to end his 19-year MLB career back in Seattle from 2018-19.
3. Adrián Beltré
The standout third baseman figures to beat Ichiro to Cooperstown by one year, as he’ll be a surefire first-ballot inductee in 2024. But Beltré presumably will bear a Rangers cap on his plaque as he finished his career with eight great years in Texas after oddly suffering through five subpar seasons in Seattle in what should have been his prime from age 26-30.
While his offensive output dipped during his Mariners years -- probably because Seattle’s home park played particularly tough on right-handed hitters before the fences were moved in -- Beltré won two of his five Gold Glove Awards while with Seattle.
Beltré wound up being a four-time All-Star and finished his 21-year career ranked 11th in MLB history in doubles (636), 14th in extra-base hits (1,151) and 31st in home runs (477).
4. Omar Vizquel
Vizquel received 23.9% of the vote in 2022, down from the 49.1% in '21 and 52.6% in '20, as domestic abuse allegations against him surfaced from his past.
Vizquel’s 2,877 hits bring him close to the magical 3,000 mark, and he was an 11-time Gold Glove Award winner in a sterling 24-year career. Before allegations surfaced, his election was no slam dunk, however, as his slash line of .272/.336/.352 with a .688 OPS and 80 home runs in 2,968 games leaves him with a career bWAR of 45.6, which ranks 16th among this year’s HOF nominees.
Vizquel, who played his first five seasons in Seattle, stands as the all-time MLB leader in games played at shortstop, as well as the most double plays turned, and his .9847 fielding percentage is fractions of a point higher than runner-up Troy Tulowitzki (.9846) for first among those who played 500 games or more.
5. Jamie Moyer
This would have been the spot for Félix Hernández, but The King isn’t retired yet even though he elected not to play this past season in Atlanta because of COVID-19 concerns. Moyer certainly has a strong resume of his own, though he already fell off the Hall of Fame ballot after drawing 2.4 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility in 2018.
Moyer’s beauty was his enduring legacy as he pitched 25 seasons and didn’t retire until age 49, racking up a career record of 269-209 over 696 games. The crafty lefty spent 11 seasons in Seattle and was an All-Star in 2003 at age 40. His 269 wins rank 35th in MLB history, and he’s 16th in career starts with 638 and 46th in strikeouts with 2,441.