Ichiro stars, but Mariners fall in Dream Bracket

April 20th, 2020

Ever wonder how an all-time Mariners roster including Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, Félix Hernández et al might fare against the best players from other franchises?

Turns out that group held its own pretty well even against an all-time Yankees squad -- which included the likes of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle -- after the Mariners wound up matched against the Bronx Bombers in the first round of the MLB Dream Bracket presented by DraftKings that is now underway.

The all-time Mariners lost the best-of-seven series, 4-2, pushing the difficult first-round matchup to six games despite coming in as the American League’s No. 16 seed vs. the top-seeded Yankees in the 32-team bracket tourney.

Seedings were based on World Series titles won, pennants won, postseason appearances and regular-season winning percentage. But in spite of their limited playoff history, the Mariners put together a pretty formidable lineup and solid pitching staff for a franchise that only dates back to 1977.

The Mariners went with a primary starting lineup of Ichiro in right, Alex Rodriguez at short, Martinez manning third, Griffey in center, Bret Boone at second, Nelson Cruz with designated hitter duties, John Olerud at first, Jay Buhner in left and Dan Wilson catching. Players were rated using the average of their best three seasons on a particular team, thus Rodriguez was able to play both shortstop for the Mariners and third base for the Yankees in the simulated competition.

The MLB Dream Bracket is a 32-team best-of-seven simulation featuring all-time teams for each of the 30 current Major League franchises, as well as teams consisting of Negro Leagues Stars and 25 & Under Stars. The 26-man rosters for each of the teams, compiled by the MLB.com beat reporters, consist of 15 hitters and 11 pitchers. For the simulation, players are rated using the average of their three best seasons on a single team. Rosters were constructed with balanced depth to specifically compete in a simulated regulation game.

Here’s how the Mariners-Yankees series played out:

Game 1: Yankees 3, Mariners 2
Buhner ripped a two-run homer in the second inning off Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, but that was all the damage Seattle managed in the opener at Yankee Stadium. Ichiro went 2-for-4 with a double and Boone was 2-for-3 with a walk and run scored. Randy Johnson allowed two runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings but walked six with eight strikeouts. Reliever J.J. Putz took the loss as DiMaggio capped a two-run sixth with an RBI single. Edwin Díaz walked Ruth to lead off the seventh, but he struck out Lou Gehrig, Mantle and Reggie Jackson in order.

Game 2: Yankees 1, Mariners 0
Lack of run support for Hernández is a familiar storyline, even in simulation, as King Félix took a tough loss in a game decided by Gehrig’s seventh-inning leadoff home run. Hernández allowed four hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings, but the Mariners managed just three hits off a trio of Hall of Famers -- Red Ruffing, Mariano Rivera and Rich “Goose” Gossage.

Game 3: Mariners 4, Yankees 0
As the series shifted to Seattle’s home park, Jamie Moyer delivered a seven-inning gem, with the powerhouse Yankees managing just three hits and no walks as the crafty lefty struck out six. Relievers Arthur Rhodes, Díaz and Kazuhiro Sasaki finished off the shutout. The Mariners scored three times off Ron Guidry in the fourth on an RBI double by Boone and a two-run homer by Cruz, while Boone added a solo homer in the sixth.

Game 4: Mariners 3, Yankees 2
Mark Langston outdueled Andy Pettitte in a game where all the runs scored in the ninth after the starters departed. Langston allowed just two hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts in eight frames before the Yankees took a 2-0 lead with RBI doubles in the ninth by Jackson and Rodriguez off Sasaki. But the Mariners rallied to load the bases on singles by Olerud and Wilson, sandwiched around a Buhner walk. Ichiro then singled in a run, A-Rod drew a bases-loaded walk and Martinez drove in the winning run with a one-out, walk-off walk against Lefty Gomez.

Game 5: Yankees 9, Mariners 4
Mantle, Jackson and Yogi Berra all homered off Johnson as the Big Unit gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings and the Yankees regained control of the series in the final game at Seattle. Boone and Cruz each hit their second home runs of the series, but the Bombers jumped out early on Mantle’s three-run blast in the first and never trailed. Boone and Cruz cut the lead with back-to-back shots in the fourth off Ford, but Jackson responded with a three-run homer in the sixth to end Johnson’s night.

Game 6: Yankees 2, Mariners 1
Griffey gave Seattle a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the first, but Ruffing again outdueled Hernández to clinch the series victory at Yankee Stadium. King Félix allowed just two runs on seven hits in six innings, but Berra’s two-run homer in the fourth proved the difference. Martinez and A-Rod each went 2-for-3 with a walk, but the Mariners totaled just five hits, and Rivera closed things out with his second save for the Yankees.

Series summary
Griffey was held in check over the six games, batting just .043 (1-for-23) with one RBI. Martinez, the Mariners’ other Hall of Famer, batted .211 (4-for-19) but drew six walks. Boone hit .421 (8-for-19) with two homers and four RBIs, A-Rod hit .300 (6-for-20) with five walks and Ichiro batted .296 (8-for-27). Seattle’s pitching fared well against the Yankees’ biggest stars, holding Ruth to a .190 average and Mantle and Gehrig to .150 (each 3-for-20 with a homer). Berra was New York’s top hitter at .333 (7-for-21) with two homers.