All-Time All-Mariner Roster: Second Base

DMZ · June 26, 2008 at 8:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Bret Boone, 2001. There’s no doubt this is it. Stellar defense, and by far, the best offensive season by a Mariner second baseman. This is one of the ten best seasons at the plate by a Mariner ever, and — well, unfortunately for him, many of the higher spots are occupied by young Griffey and Alex seasons, so the good defense doesn’t help him climb the ladder much on the all-time all-season chart.

So with no interesting discussion here, assuming fans want to discard Boone’s years for whatever reason, should we talk about whether the best non-Boone season was Li’l Joey Cora 1997, Jack Perconte 1984, or Harold Reynolds 1989? The Cora-Reynolds axis of power dominates the second-tier of Mariner 2B-seasons.

Yep, there’s no argument to be had here. Bret Boone’s 2001 season is one of the great second base seasons of all time, and there’s not another Mariner second base season within 300 yards of that performance. This is just a slam dunk – ’01 Boone had the best second baseman season in M’s history.

So, in lieu of talking about his 2001 season anymore, I’m going to diverge and talk about the 2001 performance that got the least amount of notice for the most amount of value, and because Jr is going to dominate the CF discussion, we won’t get to talk about him again in this series. In 2001, Mike Cameron was unbelievably awesome, and simply overshadowed by some historic performances from his teammates, but we can’t miss out on just how great he was that year. His .267/.353/.480 mark in that run environment was worth about 20 runs more than an average hitter. Meanwhile, he was the best defensive player alive, putting up a season where his glove alone was worth about 20 runs more than an average defensive center fielder. When you factor in the position adjustment, Cameron was legitimately a 5 win player in 2001 – that’s a borderline MVP candidate in most years.

Now, obviously, with Boone and Edgar and Olerud putting up the offensive numbers, a guy who was remarkably valuable while hitting .267 simply wasn’t going to attract the attention of the fan base, but in 2001, Mike Cameron had more value to the Mariners than Ichiro has had in any single season since he’s been a Mariner. Cameron was the most valuable outfielder on that 2001 team, and as good as Ichiro was in 2004, ’01 Cameron was better still.

When the best defensive player alive is also two wins better than a league average hitter, you have a remarkably valuable player, and that’s exactly what Mike Cameron was in 2001.

Bret Boone gets the nod here for having one of the best seasons ever at his position, but let’s not miss out on how good the guy playing the outfield behind him was.

No skipping ahead! Not to digress too far, but yes– one of the things that we used to have to harp on all the time was that the 2001 Mariners didn’t have a star — they had so many it was hard to pick them out. In the top thirty or so offensive years you got Boone, here, Edgar, Ichiro, Cameron, and Olerud, and four of those guys were really good defenders at their positions. That’s crazy.

Anyway, back to Boone. His 2003 is a fair distance back, and then the gap between him and Cora 97/Peconte 84 is so huge I didn’t believe it until I looked it up. Boone 01 to Cora 97 is the gap between Cora 97 and Harold Reynolds 86, when he hit .222/.275/.290 — the worst Mariner 2B season ever (offensively)(though Lopez 07 is close). Offensively, this is one of the top ten seasons by any Mariner ever, and this is a team that had Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez, and Edgar Martinez in the prime of their hitting careers.

.331/.372/.578 from a quality defensive second baseman. What’s there to argue about? I guess you could say that his 5 SB against 5 CS brings him down a little compared to the 16-3 2003 version, but that still doesn’t close the gap.

So yeah. Boone’s 2001 is the best season by a Mariner second baseman ever.


92 Responses to “All-Time All-Mariner Roster: Second Base”

  1. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 12:12 pm

    I have moved beyond my inappropriate comment. I hope you can. I am talking about positive contribution to the player-season.

  2. eric on June 26th, 2008 12:13 pm

    Oh now I see, your arguing who was the best sportsman and should be the most popular 2bman.

    Again that isn’t the question.

  3. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 12:14 pm

    I don’t think that Harold Reynolds three glove seasons at second base are vastly exceeded by Boone.

  4. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 12:15 pm

    sorry… gold glove

  5. Jeff Nye on June 26th, 2008 12:17 pm

    Our tools to evaluate defense are still rudimentary, but they’re still better than counting Gold Gloves.

    You might want to consider reading this link from the sidebar; Evaluating Defense.

    It’s long, but well worth the read.

  6. eric on June 26th, 2008 12:18 pm

    What does Boone’s hair, swagger and bat flip have to do with contribution to his season?

    Does a HR count less if he flipped his bat?

    Your not talking about his performance, your talking about your opinion of him as a person.

  7. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 12:19 pm

    The 1989 Mariners with Vizquel and Reynolds up the middle was pretty special

  8. scraps on June 26th, 2008 12:20 pm

    I liked Reynolds, and disliked Boone, but there’s just no way that whatever defensive advantage Reynolds might have had can even come close to the batting advantage Boone had.

    If you want to make a case, choose a specific Reynolds season.

  9. eric on June 26th, 2008 12:23 pm


    Even if Reynolds was better on D than Boone (which is arguable) my point was Boone’s D was very good as well so the difference was slight at best, I don’t think the best Defensive season by a 2Bman in history would offset Boone’s bat in ’01.

    You like Reynolds better as a person, nothing wrong with that, I do as well, if I had a kid I’d want him to model himself after Reynolds and be way happier seeing his poster up on the wall.

  10. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 12:27 pm

    I was quoting an earlier writer on those specific characteristics they admired. I, unfortunately haven’t ever used the quote system and was unable to use that part of the system. I am a fan of the home run. I am not a fan of arrogance. I think that character is an issue both on the field and off, but clearly I am off base in the assesment of most.

  11. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 12:31 pm

    Boone had clearly supirior offense season(s). I was trying to inject a little Reynolds into the discussion.

  12. eric on June 26th, 2008 12:43 pm

    If character on the field affects perfromance that will show up in the stats. If being a jerk somehow costs a guy 20 points of OPS we have already factored that into things when we look at his OPS since his OPS reflects what he actually did on the field.

    If you want to argue that a guys attitude affects the rest of the team and causes their poerformance to go down, then again we have the stats of their actual performace to measure. Given that most of the guys on the ’01 team had their best seasons it is hard to see how Boone’s attitude was pulling the team down.

  13. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 12:48 pm

    point taken

  14. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 12:49 pm

    I will stick with Harold as an an appropriate fella for a poster

  15. mkd on June 26th, 2008 1:03 pm

    I had such a love/hate relationship with Boone. It drove me nuts watching him try to pull the ball all the time when he such beautiful power to the opposite field. We would be sitting here talking about Boone’s amazing 2002 campaign if he hadn’t spend the first half of the season grounding out to the left side of the infield trying to jack everything over the left field fence.

    There is no other Mariner I have cussed at more than Bret Boone. I never cuss at crummy guys because what’s the point and never cuss at the great pleyers because generally they’re utilizing their strengths efficiently, but Bret Boone…oh Boonie…he never heard the end of it from me. He had such talent, but kept forgetting what a great opposite field hitter he was and that drove me insane. “The other way you %$#%$ moron! You’re not @#$%@ Barry Bonds! Stop trying to pull everything! Arrrggg!”

    I never had more fun watching a second baseman play though. When he’d do that whole chase-the-ground-ball-into-right-field-turn-flip thing I’d almost cry from joy. (Now that’s range we can believe in!)

    Blink 180-Boone RIP

  16. Jeff Nye on June 26th, 2008 1:11 pm

    I really liked watching Boone play in his prime; he just tried to hang onto his career for far, far too long.

    But that 2001 season was a monster, and I agree with Dave and Derek that there just isn’t any other Mariner second baseman season that comes close. I wonder where it’d rank among all-time seasons at the position.

  17. msb on June 26th, 2008 1:25 pm

    I really liked watching Boone play in his prime; he just tried to hang onto his career for far, far too long.

    you combine Old Player Skills with alcohol abuse and things just shoot off the proverbial cliff

  18. Jeff Nye on June 26th, 2008 1:27 pm

    Bad msb! Bad!

  19. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 1:50 pm

    And now I see why I was appropriately chastised earlier. I have learned my lesson believe me.

  20. msb on June 26th, 2008 1:52 pm

    oh, I think he’d be the first to admit it, now. I’m just glad he realized it was a problem, and did something about it.

  21. sealclubber253 on June 26th, 2008 1:55 pm

    Clearly, Boone had the best season ever as a Mariner 2nd baseman.

    But, in the arguement of Boone vs. Reynolds for defense, all numbers being equal (as somewhat arguable as they are) you have to remeber that Harold did it on a very fast surface, and Boone did it on a grass field. Boone had a much easier job half the season playing 2nd than Reynolds did.

    Both of these guys where a ton of fun to watch though, and I would gladly replace Mike Blower’s current job with either of them.

  22. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 2:04 pm

    The other factor on defence besides the Kingdome was that Reynolds played with larely imobile, defensivly liabile first baseman. Davis was incredibly slow.

  23. longbeachglenn on June 26th, 2008 2:05 pm

    ugh spelling … sorry

  24. Breadbaker on June 26th, 2008 2:28 pm

    The other thing to remember about Boone in 2001 is that he was exactly the type of pickup that everyone here always pushes the M’s to make, and they rarely do (Guillen last year is another example): the cheap, short-term signing of a guy with a lot to prove. Sometimes they don’t work (Wilkerson), but when they do, they really can affect a team positively. Boone in 2001 made up for losing A-Rod’s power, essentially getting it from second base instead of shortstop, at, what, 1/8th the cost? Both Boone and Guillen had been criticized by teammates and management in the past, but were model citizens in Seattle.

  25. sealclubber253 on June 26th, 2008 2:43 pm

    The funny thing to compare is Boone 01 to Lopez’s 08. Not even close, yet J-lo has been a bright spot for the m’s this year. Oh how the standards have crumbled.

  26. msb on June 26th, 2008 2:51 pm

    I don’t recall that Boone had any problems with his previous teams.

  27. cdowley on June 26th, 2008 3:08 pm

    Didn’t he have issues with his coaches in San Diego?

  28. Steve T on June 26th, 2008 3:10 pm

    Before he came here he had a mild reputation as a head case, a bit of a hothead and a lot of a flake, who had never really done much. I don’t think anyone saw his 2001 coming.

  29. heyoka on June 26th, 2008 3:31 pm

    For some positions these debates won’t be interesting unless we talk about runners up and/or worst regular season player as well.

    Are pitchers going to be starters 1-5 or just best starter, best reliever?

    Might I speculate that SS, 2b, CF, DH are the easy choices. (I wanted to defend Harold Reynolds, but it would be in vein.)

    1b, 3b, c, lf, rf, should all be interesting. I didn’t follow the M’s in the 80s, so I don’t know how good or bad those guys’ fielding was. Anywho, too much fun, I’ve been doing this kind of thing since 1990 (back when Ken Phelps was the easy choice for best DH)

  30. Adam S on June 26th, 2008 3:47 pm

    Might I speculate that SS, 2b, CF, DH are the easy choices.
    You can speculate but I think you’d be wrong. The player may be clear, but you have to pick a best season. And I think there’s more competition on player than you think, but we’re getting off topic.

    Boone’s 2001 was awesome, even if it was a fluke. It’s a shame he didn’t get the MVP that year.

  31. msb on June 26th, 2008 3:49 pm

    who had never really done much

    well, he was known as a second baseman who’d always hit better than expected (setting the NL record for 2B in ’00) and, but for Biggio, would have been the multiple Gold Glove 2nd baseman of the NL. What year was it that the HOF requested his glove because he broke the defensive record at 2nd … and then Biggio (sitting somewhere below several other 2B) was again voted the GG?

    all I remember about SD was the ongoing saga of his playing through his injured knee

  32. Joe on June 26th, 2008 3:58 pm

    Somehow I don’t think rf is going to be all that hard/interesting.

    Boone’s problems started in a more subtle matter, but it got to a point where he would drink 12 to 15 beers after a game.

    Yes, alcohol has killed more baseball players than steroids ever will. Still, Boone had nothing on Wade Boggs.

  33. Steve T on June 26th, 2008 4:35 pm

    it would be in vein

    Hey, I thought we agreed to lay off the drug accusations!

  34. Breadbaker on June 26th, 2008 4:58 pm

    Boone apparently had a tense relationship with Bobby Cox in Atlanta which blew up when he was benched in game two of the 1999 World Series.

  35. profmac on June 26th, 2008 5:24 pm


  36. sealclubber253 on June 26th, 2008 5:58 pm

    82- joe, I have to say that link to the Boggs article is one of the best things I have ever read. Funny stuff. Maybe the front office should start distirbuting Miller Lite in the club house cause Wade Boggs was damn good.

    I remember a few years ago, it was almost a regular thing for a Boone sighting in Belltown or at the Muckleshoot Casino. He was always out partying. But, he still hit.

  37. dingdangdo on June 26th, 2008 7:19 pm

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned yet, was Boone’s ‘new look’ stance in ’01. Just where did he get that approach? By opening up after strike 2 he managed to reduce his liability as a free swinger by taking more pitches, and opening up the entire field. That entire lineup was great for working counts, I’ve always felt that contributed greatly to everybody’s success that year. Opposing pitchers so consistently go so deep in the game this year, I don’t think enough is made of that. Is there a metrics stat that takes into account the number of pitches a hitter sees per plate appearance? Walks sort addresses that, like a wobble in a star shows the gravitational effects of planets…

  38. dingdangdo on June 26th, 2008 7:22 pm

    I’m hoping thats on topic, it started w/Boone then switched to Cammie, then started to slip and slide a bit.

  39. Jeff Nye on June 26th, 2008 7:50 pm

    But did he switch to an open stance?

    I hear that fixes hitting problems right up.

  40. heyoka on June 26th, 2008 9:32 pm

    Is there a metrics stat that takes into account the number of pitches a hitter sees per plate appearance?

    on espn miscellaneous batting they have a stat for #P/PA.
    Oddly at 3.69, 2001 was one of the lowest totals he’d ever put up.

    wow, ot, but…
    check out this player’s name

  41. dingdangdo on June 26th, 2008 11:13 pm

    #90, thanks. Trying to pick up up the metric knowledge, thats a big help, so is the site ref. Those numbers are a surprise, expected that to be different. Now we’re trying to look up hitting stats in different counts to attempt a rescue of the validity of our assessment of Boone. The open stance not only cures batting problems, it’s makes a good hair tonic and removes gum.

  42. Phightin Phils on June 26th, 2008 11:59 pm

    Ah, the 2001 season…so long ago…

    2000 was good. Then the offseason. It wasn’t until a single at-bat – I remember where I was, listening to the radio (Rizzs babbling on, and all) – that got me engaged as a fan in the 2001 season. It was Carlos Guillen in NY against the Yanks for the first meeting of the year. He worked the count. There was *hardball* all about that at-bat. And he won that battle, and the M’s one that series, and many, many more afterwards.

    But Boonie was about the pure joy of the game. The audacity of that bat flip, the back flips that he seemed he could do on the field, the glory of the game. The final touch to a great season that got me totally back into baseball.

    The Mariners. Back when my east coast friends spoke that same language about “your Seattle team” to me as they did about the fears they had about their own precious Yanks: are they great enough?

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