All-Time All-Mariner Roster: Catcher

DMZ · June 12, 2008 at 9:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Dave and I have decided to write about something fun this year, and since the 2008 Mariners won’t give us anything good to write about, we’re finding it ourselves. So, today, we launch out on a 25 part series where we build the All-Time roster for the organization, going from the starting catcher all the way down to the long man in the bullpen, picking the best single season at each position. In most spots, there are arguments for more than one season, so we’ll talk through our thoughts before coming to a conclusion.

Today we discuss the catcher: Kenji Johjima 2006 or Dan Wilson 1996?

Dave:
When we talk about the best seasons in franchise history, I think there’s an immediate expectation that the performances we’re going to be talking about are obvious, huge offensive years. However, we have to remember that value is relative, and that the scale for a quality season for a catcher is vastly different than at other positions. So, while Kenji’s 2006 batting line of .291/.332/.451 might not jump off the page, it’s actually a very valuable performance, especially considering the context. There isn’t a park on earth worse suited to Johjima’s offensive skillset than Safeco Field, and he still managed to perform well while transitioning to Major League Baseball.

In fact, his OPS+ for 2006 was 103, meaning that he was a better than league average hitter. Not better than average hitting catcher – better than average hitter period. This isn’t a regular accomplishment for a full-time catcher. This decade, there have only been 42 seasons where a catcher has accumulated 500 or more plate appearances and had an OPS+ of 100 or higher. That’s an average of six catcher seasons per year. 2006 Kenji Johjima is part of that class.

He isn’t the greatest guy at blocking the ball in the dirt, and when compared with Dan Wilson, he’s going to come up short defensively, but there’s no doubt that Johjima’s 2006 season was the best offensive performance the Mariners have ever gotten from behind the plate. With our ability to evaluate catcher defense still a work in progress, I think we have to acknowledge that Johjima’s performance as a rookie was the best we’ve seen from a backstop since the franchise began in 1977.

Derek:
Kenji’s 2006 is right up there, but Wilson’s 1996 is better. We may not know how to evaluate catcher defense nearly as well as other positions, but we know enough to establish that Wilson is superior, enough that it overcomes any differences in offense.

Having seen Dan Wilson’s long decline into awfulness, we forget just how good he was at his peak, and 1996 was absolutely primo Wilson: he was 27, had a great offensive year, and he played outstanding defense.

Johjima hit .291/.332/.451 in 2006, for an OPS+ of 103.
Wilson hit .285/.330/.444 in 1996, for an OPS+ of 94.

That’s a significant difference, but it’s not all that huge. And it’s the Kingdome, yes, but the Kingdome was never the offense-crazy haven it’s been made out to be. Looking at b-r, I see that in 1996, it rated out as 96, favoring pitchers, and the multi-year factor ran about even. That’s not a great park factor number.

Now compare defensive lines. First, the obvious: runners caught. Wilson allowed 61 stolen bases and caught 39, which works out neatly to a 39% thrown out rate (see how considerate Wilson was? He made sure the percentages were super-easy to calculate).

Johjima allowed 57 stolen bases and caught 29 runners, a 34% thrown out rate.

Wilson allows 4 more and nails 10 more in fewer innings. Using my handy run values from The Book, that’s about four runs worth of difference.
The difference isn’t in the staff, either — in 1996 the M’s got 66 starts out of left-handed starters, who generally dampen the running game, while the 2006 Mariners got 67 (as I count it – it’s Hitchcock + Mulholland + Moyer + 8 by Johnson against Washburn + Moyer + 8 Woods starts + 2 Feierabend + 1 Jimenez).

And that’s just with the running game. What about their ability as a backstop?

Wilson: caught 1130 innings, allowed 5 passed balls, 29 wild pitches, and made four errors.
Johjima: caught 1172 2/3 innings, allowed 10 passed balls and 39 wild pitches, and made seven errors.

I’m going to ignore the errors for a second. The run value of a passed ball or a wild pitch is about ~.285 runs (btw, not to plug Tango too often, but this chart is awesome). If we can credit those passed balls and wild pitches to Wilson, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t, that’s another four runs in his favor.

Already, not counting any mobility, foul-catching, pouncing-on-punt kind of more traditional defensive measures, you get +8 runs to Wilson. Was a 27-year old Wilson a better fielder than a 30-year old Kenji? It’s hard to make defensive comparisons, but yes.

Unfortunately, here the evidence fails me: I don’t want to get into separating out how many foul balls they caught, and when I look at the assists, plays where the catchers fielded the ball and then threw somewhere else to get the out He had 57 of them in 1996, while Kenji had 59 in 20 more innings caught. I wish I could get UZRs or PMRs or something useful for 1996 v 2006, but we don’t. I’ll throw my hands up here and call it even, but I suspect that if I really tried to suss an answer from the stats we can know, we’d find Wilson the more mobile and effective fielding catcher as well.

The eight runs saved we can easily grant Wilson make up for the offensive gap between them and more, and make his 1996 the better season.

Dave:
You know, when I was writing the pro-Johjima part, I had a feeling that I was arguing a losing position. Reading that, I know that feeling was right. 2006 Kenji was good, but 1996 Wilson was better.

Comments

122 Responses to “All-Time All-Mariner Roster: Catcher”

  1. bakomariner on June 12th, 2008 9:04 am

    Dan Wilson…no doubt about it…

  2. bakomariner on June 12th, 2008 9:06 am

    I’ve been doing the same thing on my own for the last couple of weeks…might as well remember the good times when the current team is depressing…glad to see the idea here on my favortie site…interested on all 25 spots…

  3. Matthew Carruth on June 12th, 2008 9:14 am

    I wonder if Johjima is going to suffer the same fate as Dan Wilson where ten years from now, most stat-focused people are going to remember his decline and how the team held onto him far longer than they should have rather than how good he was at his peak while the “core” SafeCo audience will laud him for being dependable or whatever it is they root for.

    I really wish Jeff Clement 2010 would be occupying this selection if re-done in five years.

  4. zzyzx on June 12th, 2008 9:16 am

    Too bad the inside the park grandslam was in 98, because that would be a cool – albeit a little silly- addition to the argument.

  5. robbbbbb on June 12th, 2008 9:21 am

    Nice. This is gonna be fun. I can imagine some interesting and nifty debates coming up. (So, exactly which Edgar season do you pick?)

    Onto the topic, this one’s pretty darned close. Defensive stats have pretty darned big error bars, and there’s only a few RC separating them on the offensive side.

    I don’t know that you can establish for certain that one of these players is better than the other. Maybe you lean towards Wilson, but it seems like a 60/40 thing.

    (Interestingly: Dan Wilson usually hit 7th, 8th or 9th on that ’96 team, while Johjima was usually in the 6 or 7 hole, but did bat third (!) in a few games. What does that tell you about the relative offensive output of those teams?)

  6. robbbbbb on June 12th, 2008 9:22 am

    zzyzx: I was at the ’98 game when Wilson hit the inside-the-park grand slam. The CF badly misplayed the ball, otherwise it was just a double.

    I was there with my (then) fourteen year old brother, and I remember that we had a live crowd in the ‘dome that night. Good times, man, good times.

  7. bakomariner on June 12th, 2008 9:24 am

    Are you guys (Dave and Derek) going to poll ussmariner-nation to see what we all think for all 25 picks? I think it’d be interesting to see what the two of you conclude vs. what the rest of us think…

    Just a thought…

  8. mcrowder01 on June 12th, 2008 9:26 am

    Was Dave Valle ’93 considered? Only .258/.354/.395, but it came out to a 101 OPS+. He also caught 57/125 base stealers (46%) with 5 Es,8 PBs and 45WPs….

  9. et_blankenship on June 12th, 2008 9:26 am

    Warning Track Dan was the man, plus his wife was unpretentiously hot and really super nice. He was also one of the last players to wear the old-school three-quarter sleeves, like the ones we (those of us over 30) all wore in little league.

  10. bob montgomery on June 12th, 2008 9:26 am

    Why 1996 Wilson instead of 1997 Wilson? The 1996 version was an All-Star, but the 1997 version looks just a little better in every way. Hit a tiny bit better, caught more (and higher %) would-be thieves, and played more (146 games vs 138). Also ran the bases much better in 1997 (7 SB vs 2 CS against 1 SB vs 2 CS). And the Mariners went to the playoffs in 1997, while they didn’t in 1996.

  11. Rusty on June 12th, 2008 9:27 am

    So once you have the 25 best, how many wins do they amass, theoretically?

    116, by chance? [joke]

    By the way, speaking of 116, would Lou Pineilla 2001 would be the best Manager year for the M’s? And which year and GM would be the best GM year?

  12. Jeff Nye on June 12th, 2008 9:27 am

    (So, exactly which Edgar season do you pick?)

    Are you implying that Vidro won’t be the pick for best DH?

    (runs away)

    I wasn’t a baseball fan yet for Dan Wilson’s better years, so I really only remember him in his decline phase.

    Looking at the comparison between his 95 and Joh’s 2006, though, I’m inclined to agree. A 94 OPS+ with good to great defense from a highly valuable defensive position? Yes, please.

  13. zzyzx on June 12th, 2008 9:28 am

    “zzyzx: I was at the ‘98 game when Wilson hit the inside-the-park grand slam. The CF badly misplayed the ball, otherwise it was just a double.”

    I was there too, and thought it was going to clear the fence. Ah good times. I miss the Kingdome sometimes.

  14. Steve T on June 12th, 2008 9:29 am

    Is catcher our weakest all-time position? I’m not a big fan of either guy, to be honest. I can’t believe you didn’t pick Bob Kearney!

  15. bob montgomery on June 12th, 2008 9:35 am

    And what about 1993 Dave Valle? His raw hitting looks terrible, but this was 1993 – his OPS+ was 101, which is almost Johjima’s 2006. What was his defensive reputation? He was 32 then, so he probably wasn’t real mobile, but he did throw out nearly 46% of attempted base-stealers. And he played 135 games that year, as many as Wilson in 1996.

  16. msb on June 12th, 2008 9:35 am

    you forgot to factor in The Intangibles.

  17. pygmalion on June 12th, 2008 9:46 am

    you forgot to factor in The Intangibles.

    Are they like The Incredibles?

  18. msb on June 12th, 2008 9:50 am

    but with better uniforms.

  19. Mike Snow on June 12th, 2008 10:02 am

    Is catcher our weakest all-time position?

    Yes. In the bad old days, I remember that doing an exercise like this meant debating which half-season’s worth of at-bats you liked better, Scott Bradley’s .302 average in 1986, or Bob Stinson’s 1978, or, well, there just weren’t a whole lot of options.

  20. JI on June 12th, 2008 10:15 am

    So, exactly which Edgar season do you pick?

    Even though his 1996 season has always left me wondering about what might have been, I think it’s pretty obvious you pick 1995 for DH, and 1992 for 3B. You can’t make any sort of reasonable argument otherwise.

  21. JJD on June 12th, 2008 10:23 am

    There isn’t a park on earth worse suited to Johjima’s offensive skillset than Safeco Field

    This sentence makes me sad.

    I hope when you get to the set-up guys there is at least a casual mention of Bill Risley.

  22. Grizz on June 12th, 2008 10:48 am

    Mike, I vote Bob Stinson 1978 (258/346/404 111 OPS+).

    Or Steve Yeager, just for Morganna’s appearance.

  23. Jim Thomsen on June 12th, 2008 11:08 am

    I’m sure if you did a Top Five seasons by Mariner catchers, Wilson and Johjima would fill out all the slots, but I’d like to see some consideration given to:

    1993 Dave Valle: good defensive reputation, .258/.354/.395

    1978 Bob “Scrapiron” Stinson, good defensive reputation, .258/.346/.404

  24. Jim Thomsen on June 12th, 2008 11:09 am

    Wow, I totally didn’t see the last 6-7 comments before I posted mine. Honest.

  25. Jim Thomsen on June 12th, 2008 11:10 am

    Scott Bradley, as decent a singles-and-doubles hitter he was for a few seasons, wasn’t well thought of defensively, as I recall.

  26. planB on June 12th, 2008 11:14 am
    you forgot to factor in The Intangibles.

    Are they like The Incredibles?

    Also, better spies: they can’t be detected.

  27. JI on June 12th, 2008 11:22 am

    If only you could combine Valle’s early career power with his late career patience…

  28. Tree on June 12th, 2008 11:43 am

    There isn’t a park on earth worse suited to Johjima’s offensive skillset than Safeco Field

    Does this mean that Hypothetical GM could make a decent trade and open up a spot for Clement at catcher? I like Johjima, but if the park is getting in his way, he might have more value to the Mariners with another team.

  29. Breadbaker on June 12th, 2008 11:47 am

    6: You and i remember it differently. Both of Wilson’s inside-the-parkers (the other was a three-run shot) involved the ball hitting the wall and bisecting the left and centerfielders. Thus, neither pulled off from the ball and it bounced off the wall and rolled back on the carpet where there was nobody to field it. Since the ball was exactly between them, neither was calling the other off.

    I always have a lot of trouble when you apply “park effects” analysis to the Kingdome. Other than the one change in the outfield wall, which happened well before 1996, there was no difference between the park from year to year. There’s no weather factor, no lighting factor, nothing. It’s like playing baseball in a petrie dish.

  30. Grizz on June 12th, 2008 11:47 am

    Ah, Scott Bradley. I got a table in a restaurant in Chicago once when the friend I was with introduced me to the maitre’d as “Seattle Mariners catcher Scott Bradley” (even though I was about 12 years too young). I think my friend was “Russ Swan.”

  31. sealclubber253 on June 12th, 2008 11:49 am

    I will never forget going to “Dave’s Valley” as a kid. He was a special and well loved player in those days.

    I would have to vote for Kenji as best M’s catcher, but he shined more in the linups that he was in because of the lack of other hitters present. Wilson in his prime would be a better option because of how good he was at running a pitching staff to go along with the hitting and defense. I don’t remember pitchers complaining about not being able to understand Wilson. Of coarse, some complainers are idiots…

  32. Mike Snow on June 12th, 2008 11:52 am

    Bradley wasn’t a great defensive catcher, no. As I recall, he spent a fair amount of time DHing while occasionally giving Valle a breather behind the plate.

  33. JI on June 12th, 2008 12:05 pm

    Other than the one change in the outfield wall, which happened well before 1996, there was no difference between the park from year to year.

    There were more changes to the dimensions than what is generally remembered.

    http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/index.htm

  34. Sports on a Schtick on June 12th, 2008 12:12 pm

    What if Wilson was playing for today’s Mariners? Clean-cut scrappy white guy who adopts foreign kids = Face of the Franchise

  35. planB on June 12th, 2008 12:24 pm

    What if Wilson was playing for today’s Mariners? Clean-cut scrappy white guy who adopts foreign kids = Face of the Franchise

    Wilson is one of the main sources of the franchise’s obsession with “mom-pleaser” kind of players.

  36. msb on June 12th, 2008 12:29 pm

    Scott Bradley, as decent a singles-and-doubles hitter he was for a few seasons, wasn’t well thought of defensively, as I recall.

    how are his Princeton teams? are they defensive-minded?

  37. Ollie in Raleigh on June 12th, 2008 1:00 pm

    [no]

  38. Jeff Nye on June 12th, 2008 1:21 pm

    Brief moderation note (this is not an invitation for discussion, in this thread or others):

    If comments are turned off on a post, it’s for a reason. It’s not up to ANY of you to decide that you’re going to comment anyway, in whatever thread you feel like, or complain about comments being turned off in other, unrelated threads.

    Consider this fair warning.

  39. earinc on June 12th, 2008 1:24 pm

    Speaking of all-time Mariners, I work in the publishing industry and just was searching the name of one of the authors I represent, and very weirdly, this was the first news link that popped on google (scroll down to the third or so news item on the page):

    http://artvoice.com/issues/v7n24/three_new_IL_ballparks

  40. Red Apple on June 12th, 2008 1:28 pm

    Ah, Scott Bradley. I got a table in a restaurant in Chicago once when the friend I was with introduced me to the maitre’d as “Seattle Mariners catcher Scott Bradley” (even though I was about 12 years too young). I think my friend was “Russ Swan.”

    Did they seat you near Abe Froman?

  41. earinc on June 12th, 2008 1:35 pm

    “but the Kingdome was never the offense-crazy haven it’s been made out to be”

    Your stats proving this are well-taken, but in that 1996 season, every Mariner who had at least 400 ABs hit at least 18 home runs (that was Wilson) except power-challenged Joey Cora. They hit 245 as a team. The Kingdome certainly didn’t hurt ‘em.

  42. Benne on June 12th, 2008 1:35 pm

    Speaking of all-time Mariners, I work in the publishing industry and just was searching the name of one of the authors I represent, and very weirdly, this was the first news link that popped on google (scroll down to the third or so news item on the page):

    http://artvoice.com/issues/v7n24/three_new_IL_ballparks

    John Halama? Now there’s a blast from the past. I didn’t know he was still alive.

  43. Ollie in Raleigh on June 12th, 2008 1:43 pm

    Sorry Jeffy poo. I’ll take Kenji last season. Dan had better pitchers to catch. Ah to have a Lackey. Maybe we can sign him when he’s a FA. :)

  44. earinc on June 12th, 2008 1:43 pm

    I couldn’t believe Halama was still only 36.

  45. JerBear on June 12th, 2008 1:45 pm

    Did they seat you near Abe Froman?

    The Sausage King of Chicago? If only he were that lucky!

  46. scraps on June 12th, 2008 1:47 pm

    I never would have guessed Stinson had an OPS+ of 111 in 1978, his only season close to full-time.

    Still, he only caught 1243 games, and in those games he allowed 100 steals (with 52 caught stealing).

    The argument for Valle looks pretty good, though.

  47. scraps on June 12th, 2008 1:48 pm

    Okay, that’s a lot of games.

    123, I meant.

  48. msb on June 12th, 2008 1:49 pm

    re: Halama, it gets even better.

  49. Xteve X on June 12th, 2008 2:14 pm

    “Ah, Scott Bradley. I got a table in a restaurant in Chicago once when the friend I was with introduced me to the maitre’d as “Seattle Mariners catcher Scott Bradley” (even though I was about 12 years too young). I think my friend was “Russ Swan.””

    Guess the “Abe Froman, Sausage King Of Chicago” didn’t work on them? :D

  50. msb on June 12th, 2008 2:40 pm

    “Abe Froman, Sausage King Of Chicago”

    you are making me think of The Wienie King

  51. Grizz on June 12th, 2008 2:55 pm

    Did they seat you near Abe Froman?

    No, this was place was not nearly as swanky as Chez Quis — more of a neighborhood brasserie with a clientele who conceivably might have heard of the Seattle Mariners, if not their reserve backstop himself.

  52. bratman on June 12th, 2008 3:10 pm

    Interesting this post went up today. Just read this at FoxSports:

    FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports Seattle Mariners starting pitchers have many complaints about C Kenji Johjima. One of them is he costs them strikes. ‘He umpires,’ according to a rival executive. ‘When he catches the ball, instead of framing it, he decides for himself if the pitch is a ball or a strike and yanks it out of the zone quickly.’

    Kenji is ahead of the umps.

  53. msb on June 12th, 2008 3:31 pm

    my thought when I read that earlier was, why is Ken Rosenthal asking other teams “executives” about Joh’s catching?

  54. Evan on June 12th, 2008 3:38 pm

    I’ve always hated the practice of “framing the pitch”. The ump should watch the pitch, not where the catcher holds it after it’s caught.

    If framing the pitch works, every umpire in baseball should be fired.

  55. clambaker on June 12th, 2008 3:41 pm

    How can one have a discussion of Mariner catchers without bringing up 1993 and the 188ABs put up by a fella by the name of Macky Sasser…

    .218BA .274OBP .309SLG 56+OPS

  56. killer_ewok18 on June 12th, 2008 4:01 pm

    you forgot to factor in The Intangibles.

    Are they like The Incredibles?

    No capes.

  57. Sentinel on June 12th, 2008 4:26 pm

    you forgot to factor in The Intangibles.

    Are they like The Incredibles?

    No capes.

    Poor Vectorman.

  58. Milendriel on June 12th, 2008 5:06 pm

    55- Rene Rivera 2006, 99 ABs: .152/.184/.253 OPS+ of 13.

  59. scraps on June 12th, 2008 5:09 pm

    If these reporters were real journalists, they would at the very least determine whether Johjima got fewer called strikes than an average catcher. Right? How much work would that be? If they actually, you know, gave a damn about the truth, rather than facilitating the scapegoating of a catcher from a few suckass pitchers.

  60. et_blankenship on June 12th, 2008 5:18 pm

    I’ve always hated the practice of “framing the pitch”. The ump should watch the pitch, not where the catcher holds it after it’s caught.

    If framing the pitch works, every umpire in baseball should be fired.

    When it’s subtle and used in a timely fashion, I believe framing helps on occasion, but I also believe over-framing has the opposite effect. Take Ramon Hernandez for example. Have you ever watched him catch a game? I mean, really watched him receive pitch after pitch for an entire 9 inning game? His wrist-spraining technique is the exact opposite of subtle and there is no pitch he won’t attempt to frame no matter how off-target it is. I am serious. If Hernandez had to jump to snag a rising fastball, he would hit the ground and then *bam* frame it. It’s an insult to the umpire’s intelligence. I have watched games where an umpire will eventually stop calling strikes on the edge as if to say, “Well, if you had to frame it, clearly it wasn’t a strike.” Pudge used to be a serious over-framer as well. Not sure if he still is.

  61. JMHawkins on June 12th, 2008 5:39 pm

    Having seen Dan Wilson’s long decline…

    The thing I remember is the team’s repeated struggles getting a replacement. After 2001 (even though Wilson had a decent bounce-back offensively) they knew they needed someone to take over for him, and went out and got Ben Davis (who is now in Baltimore’s farm system posting a .643 OPS in AA as a 31-year old). Then came Olivo, who didn’t work out here, but seems to be hitting the snot out of the ball in KC. Then Torrealba. All these guys turning into busts, and Wilson kept chugging out there, doing the best he could until his knee blew up.

    Catcher is a hard position to fill. It’s probably most team’s weakest position, not just the M’s.

  62. baseballstallion on June 12th, 2008 6:07 pm

    Okay, Dan Wilson by a long shot. If you all need some more evidence though, lets consider a few other things. Dan Wilson was a good hitter, and a pretty above average catcher defensively. What sets him above all other catchers is his ability to call a game and do the fundamentals well. Whenever we needed to move a runner over, he was the one you wanted up. He could do it with a bunt, a sac fly, or just a grounder to the right side. It seemed like he never failed. How many runs were saved by his blocking of the plate? Dan Wilson is the money pick here.

  63. Breadbaker on June 12th, 2008 6:11 pm

    “Dan Wilson was a good hitter” is not only not “evidence,” it’s not true.

  64. Steve Nelson on June 12th, 2008 6:19 pm

    #29:

    I always have a lot of trouble when you apply “park effects” analysis to the Kingdome. Other than the one change in the outfield wall, which happened well before 1996, there was no difference between the park from year to year. There’s no weather factor, no lighting factor, nothing. It’s like playing baseball in a petrie dish.

    Park factors are calculated relative to the league. So even if a park doesn’t change, it’s park factors will change simply because other parks in the league.

    Plus, as noted in other comments, there was more than just the one change in the Kingdome dimensions.

  65. scraps on June 12th, 2008 6:21 pm

    I’m sorry, baseballstallion, but every single argument you summoned was emotional, cliched, and unsubstantiated by anything beyond your personal fondness for Wilson. I lile Wilson too, and he might well be the best, but “ability to call a game” and “fundamentals” aren’t evidence; it’s just noise.

  66. MattThompson on June 12th, 2008 6:47 pm

    Oh, this is going to be a fun exercise. I’ve just spent the last two hours on Baseball Reference (something I haven’t done in too long) filling myself in on some of the late-80s to early-90s teams I missed while away at school, etc. Man, I wish I had been around for 1992 third-base Edgar, but alas, I was half-way across the country in the pre-interweb days.

  67. NBarnes on June 12th, 2008 7:00 pm

    The posts for shortstop, second base, and center field should be contests to see who can be the funniest in the fewest words, while getting the point across.

  68. MattThompson on June 12th, 2008 7:20 pm

    The fun at center field and shortstop will not be the question of who wins, but instead which season is the greatest? Honestly, A-Rod in ’96, ’98 or 2000? Griffey in ’94, ’96, ’98 or ’99?

  69. JI on June 12th, 2008 8:20 pm

    Griffey in ‘94, ‘96, ‘98 or ‘99?

    Funny, because 1993 was his best full season.

  70. azfred on June 12th, 2008 8:32 pm

    I’ve always been partial to Orlando Mercado, if only for his name. Not many people remember him of course, as a back-up catcher and for the fact that he sucked. But I was 10 years old in 1982 and sometimes the name is enough.

  71. Breadbaker on June 12th, 2008 8:46 pm

    So that MVP year in ’97 was just in my mind?

    Actually, the best argument would be for the worst M’s catcher ever. So many candidates, so little time.

  72. Jeff Nye on June 12th, 2008 8:54 pm

    Boy, I’ve never seen anything triple-posted for emphasis before!

  73. bratman on June 12th, 2008 9:23 pm

    Ironic that A-rod lost the 96 MVP because one of the local writers voted Junior …

    I think Junior’s 97 and 98 seasons were the best two back to back season posted by an American League slugger since Babe Ruth’s ’27, ’28 seasons.

    97 and 98 were Juniors beast two seasons by far.

    As for catcher … I’m going Dave Valle hands down :)

  74. normstradamus on June 12th, 2008 9:25 pm

    [do I seriously have to put a note about this in every comment thread? cut it out]

  75. bratman on June 12th, 2008 9:29 pm

    More info on the 1996 MVP Vote

    The vote: Gonzalez 290, Rodriguez 288.

    Rodriguez should have won. Frankly, this was one of the worst MVP votes in history. Both Seattle writers voted Ken Griffey Jr. first and another writer from Oakland somehow placed Rodriguez seventh. But this vote probably came down to the Rangers making the playoffs and the Mariners falling short.

    No wonder A-Rod left. Who were these writers? Anyone know?

  76. bratman on June 12th, 2008 9:32 pm

    Also Dave/DMZ -

    Thank you very much for this 25 part series – I could not be more excited for this to play out – this is going to be fun as hell.

  77. JimThomsen1965 on June 12th, 2008 9:42 pm

    You’re going with Orlando Mercado based on NAME?

    Top Five Mariner catchers by funkiness of name:

    1. Skip Jutze
    2. Bill Nahorodny
    3. Bud Bulling
    4. Bert Heffernan
    5. Mackey Sasser

  78. NBarnes on June 12th, 2008 10:11 pm

    1993 really was Griffey’s best season. The OBP was higher than his 97 and 98 efforts and the league offensive context was down, placing his relatively lower SLG in a still-elite catagory. 98 wasn’t even all that amazing. Really really good, yes, but a 365 OBP does not a ‘best ever’ make, hopefully.

  79. bratman on June 12th, 2008 10:16 pm

    78 –

    I just find the back to back 50+ HR, 140+ RBI season absolutely remarkable. I think he was the only guy besides the Babe to do it in the AL.

    Yes his OBP was was .18 higher than 97 and .37 higher than 98 however there has to be something said about those power numbers.

    11 HR’s higher each year, and nearly 40+ RBI’s more.

    The OPS+ are similar as well.

    All very remarkable seasons. Only reason I think 98 was remarkable is because of those back to back 50HR seasons.

  80. JI on June 12th, 2008 10:21 pm

    I think Junior’s 97 and 98 seasons were the best two back to back season posted by an American League slugger since Babe Ruth’s ‘27, ‘28 seasons.

    You can’t be serious.

  81. bratman on June 12th, 2008 10:24 pm

    80 – Power wise and back to back years, I think so.

    I could be wrong, would love to see what you come up with though. Interesting discussion, nonetheless.

  82. Breadbaker on June 12th, 2008 10:25 pm

    75: The M’s were eliminated in ’96 on the last weekend of the season. One would have had to be a blithering idiot to give Juan Gone the MVP on that basis. In any event, it was the blithering idiots of the Seattle press who denied ARod his justly deserved award. Oddly, of course, he won his first MVP for a last place Rangers club.

  83. bratman on June 12th, 2008 10:26 pm

    82 – Do we know which writers voted Junior? I would love to find out.

  84. MattThompson on June 12th, 2008 10:30 pm

    See? I leave out a couple of Griffey seasons and people go nuts! And I learn a lot, and all of this is very much fun. ’97, ’93, man, all those Griffey years run together into one long stretch of ‘awesome.’

  85. bratman on June 12th, 2008 10:38 pm

    Well looks like irony strikes again – 80

    A-Rod’s first two seasons when he left Seattle in ’01 and ’02 are comparable.

    Amazing … really

  86. JI on June 12th, 2008 10:41 pm

    80 – Power wise and back to back years, I think so

    As far as raw power, you’d still be wrong. You wouldn’t even have to go back to Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Ted Williams, Hank Greenberg, or Jimmie Foxx to disprove this.

    For of all, limiting yourself to just AL batters is a stupid qualifier, but even then Albert Belle (1994-95) has him beat by a little, Alex Rodriguez (2002-03), would be in a virtual tie, and Mark McGwire (1995-1996) would destroy him in terms of pure raw power if he had the at bats.

  87. MattThompson on June 12th, 2008 10:55 pm

    As far as raw power, youÂ’d still be wrong. You wouldnÂ’t even have to go back to Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Ted Williams, Hank Greenberg, or Jimmie Foxx to disprove this.
    For of all, limiting yourself to just AL batters is a stupid qualifier, but even then Albert Belle (1994-95) has him beat by a little, Alex Rodriguez (2002-03), would be in a virtual tie, and Mark McGwire (1995-1996) would destroy him in terms of pure raw power if he had the at bats.

    And yet, we’re supposed to be talking solely about greatest seasons by a Mariner here, right? Another reason why this is so much fun.

  88. bratman on June 12th, 2008 11:02 pm

    87 – You are correct – however I strayed from the topic when I compared Junior’s 97 / 98 seasons to the Babes 27/28 seasons.

    I think the true topic is: Best Catcher in Mariners history.

    For which I still vote David Valle.

  89. MattThompson on June 12th, 2008 11:33 pm

    Cool. I’m in the Wilson ’96 camp, but again, the Valle years were in that whole period of time I was away for.

  90. chimera on June 13th, 2008 12:12 am

    Wilson had to catch a lot of not only NASTY pitches from the Big Unit, but on occasion 100 MPH + ones … and he was very good at protecting the plate.

    Remember the days when Randy would throw a hard sweeping slider to a right handed batter, who would then swing, and the ball would hit him in the foot?

  91. chimera on June 13th, 2008 12:18 am

    To clarify my above post, when I stated “swing, and the ball would hit him in the foot”, I meant swing and completely miss the ball and it would hit the batter in the foot. Then they would hop around for a while with the humility of receiving a strike.

    Wilson blocked tons of that stuff, and IMO, was a pretty good hitter, and wasn’t that bad at throwing out base runners back then.

    So obviously, my vote is for Wilson.

  92. Breadbaker on June 13th, 2008 3:24 am

    Randy only started 8 games in 1996; that was the year he had the first back injury. So Wilson in 1996shouldn’t get much credit for having to catch the Big Unit. Plus that’s the year we got Moyer.

  93. msb on June 13th, 2008 8:12 am

    82 – Do we know which writers voted Junior? I would love to find out.

    “Both Seattle writers voted Ken Griffey Jr. first and another writer from Oakland somehow placed Rodriguez seventh.”

    that would be Jim Street & Bob Finnigan in Seattle, and John Hickey, writing in Oakland then.

  94. bratman on June 13th, 2008 8:22 am

    MSB -

    Doesn’t Hickey write for the PI now? If ture, all 3 writers who screwed A-Rod out of that MVP are now in Seattle?

    That is strange.

  95. DMZ on June 13th, 2008 8:47 am

    We will — I promise — get to the other positions in good time.

  96. DMZ on June 13th, 2008 8:50 am

    I think the true topic is: Best Catcher in Mariners history.

    It’s not. I’ve tried to clarify the intro to make this clear — it’s best catcher-season here, and it’ll be best n-season next, and so on. The “best Mariner catcher” and “best catcher to play for the M’s” are different topics entirely.

  97. bakomariner on June 13th, 2008 9:04 am

    Derek,

    Are you going to have a poll for us to vote, or is this just for the purpose of discussion?

  98. bratman on June 13th, 2008 9:14 am

    96 –

    misread that. so have we agreed that Wilson’s 96 season is the best season a Mariner catcher has ever had?

    how do we decide on the winner?

  99. firova2 on June 13th, 2008 9:23 am

    No love for Dan Firova here, it seems.

  100. Mike Snow on June 13th, 2008 10:13 am

    Well, he was perfect at throwing out baserunners, but I guess they’re holding that passed ball against him.

  101. msb on June 13th, 2008 10:36 am

    ah, if only Ibanez had caught ….

  102. et_blankenship on June 13th, 2008 10:41 am

    How do we decide on the winner?

    1996 Dan Wilson has been chosen. The Claw is our master. It decides who will go and who will stay.

  103. DMZ on June 13th, 2008 10:44 am

    Right now we have no plans for voting, surveys, or anything else. It’s just me and Dave, talking about the M’s.

  104. et_blankenship on June 13th, 2008 10:51 am

    The Claw has spoken.

  105. Jeff Nye on June 13th, 2008 10:53 am

    I’m not sure there’s always going to be a clear-cut winner on some of these, anyway. It’s okay if people disagree.

  106. bratman on June 13th, 2008 11:08 am

    Nye – Blasphemy. We must agree all the time. Mob mentality. [I know you were trying to make a joke but we don't want any politics fights today! Sorry]

  107. Graham on June 13th, 2008 11:10 am

    And this looks like a bad direction for the conversation to wander down.

  108. NBarnes on June 13th, 2008 12:28 pm

    Will there be intra-player competition, between different years? I mean, A-Rod has, like, 149,355 of the 149,358 of the best Ms shortstop seasons ever.

  109. Xteve X on June 13th, 2008 12:59 pm

    [long link isn't so much the problem, being off-topic is; I'm sure there'll be a post upcoming about it]

  110. scott19 on June 13th, 2008 1:38 pm

    I mean, A-Rod has, like, 149,355 of the 149,358 of the best Ms shortstop seasons ever.

    And of course, the other three of those seasons would belong to either Omar or Mario Mendoza. :)

  111. Steve T on June 13th, 2008 1:40 pm

    Catching Randy once he learned control wasn’t that hard, no matter how hard he threw. Catchers can take the heat. The guys I feel sorry for had to catch Randy in his first several years here, when he threw 100 MPH but no one in the ballpark had any idea where. Dave Valle, mostly.

  112. scott19 on June 13th, 2008 2:01 pm

    Showing my age a bit, but I remember when I was a kid having felt sorry for Bruce Bochy when he playing for the Astros — between two 100-MPH fireballers (Ryan & JR Richard) and a knuckleballer (Joe Niekro) in that rotation…sheesh!

  113. bob montgomery on June 13th, 2008 2:06 pm

    so have we agreed that Wilson’s 96 season is the best season a Mariner catcher has ever had?

    Someone tell me how Dan Wilson 1996 was better than Dan Wilson 1997.

    See #10 for details, but basically: Hit better. Ran better. Threw out more basestealers. Threw out a higher percentage of baserunners. Played more. Fewer passed balls. (More wild pitches, so that’s an argument against.) What else am I missing?

    Sure, he was an All-Star in 1996, but they won more games and went to the playoffs in 1997.

  114. Mike Snow on June 13th, 2008 2:20 pm

    In what way are we saying Wilson hit better in 1997? His “triple-slash” stats were down across the board.

  115. mstaples on June 13th, 2008 2:53 pm

    [ot]

  116. JI on June 13th, 2008 3:39 pm

    In what way are we saying Wilson hit better in 1997? His “triple-slash” stats were down across the board.

    My guess would be that it was better when weighted against the quality of the league.

  117. Steve T on June 13th, 2008 3:43 pm

    It was; his OPS+ was 96 in ’97, 94 in ’96. That’s got park and league in it.

  118. DMZ on June 13th, 2008 3:52 pm

    Yeah, I think 96 and 97 are both equally good choices, and I can see the case for 97, as some metrics have him a little ahead on offense in that year, while others go for 1996. I’d be happy with either answer, though I went with 96.

  119. normstradamus on June 13th, 2008 4:47 pm

    [ot]

  120. mstaples on June 13th, 2008 4:49 pm

    [it's still ot]

  121. Jeff Nye on June 13th, 2008 4:52 pm

    Apologies for the somewhat messy comment thread, those of you who are actually interested in discussing the topic; some people have difficulty understanding relatively simple concepts.

  122. chimera on June 14th, 2008 2:38 am

    Randy only started 8 games in 1996; that was the year he had the first back injury. So Wilson in 1996 shouldn’t get much credit for having to catch the Big Unit. Plus that’s the year we got Moyer.

    Fair enough, I was thinking of 1997 not 1996. I was sitting in the front row, next to first base the night he struck out 19 batters … and Mark McGwire bounced one of his fast balls off the back wall of the Kingdome, below or near the Jumbotron or whatever the screen was called. That was the hardest hit ball I’ve ever seen. It was more like a line drive and it seemed as if it was still rising. I remember the big unit standing there and said something like “Wow”. But even with 19 strike outs, he still lost the game.

    In any case, I suppose my opinion is tainted, in watching Wilson stopping a lot of nasty pitches from Randy over the years.

    I still have to vote for Wilson though.

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