All-Time All-Mariner Roster: Left Field

DMZ · July 14, 2008 at 8:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Phil Bradley, 1985, the best year in a three-year run from 1985-1987. Now, Bradley was no great shakes defensively, but this 1985 year… .300/.365/.498. That doesn’t look all that impressive on its surface, but in 1985, the league batted .261/.327/.406. Bradley, in raw stats terms, was a top-ten hitter in the league that year. Even docking him a little for the park, he was one of the best hitters in baseball that year, and the best left fielder in the AL. A huge, huge year.

Defensively, eyeballing the ill measures we have, Bradley comes out as average/slightly above average during his prime compared to his peers.

And it doesn’t take all that much with the M’s have had such bad left fielders for so long. Not a ton of competition. Offensively, Raul Ibanez is a long ways back and he’s terrible defensively which wipes him out. You might argue the total 2003 Winn package, or 1981 Paciorek, I guess… actually, I should let you pick instead of assuming you’re with me on this one.

Bradley’s been largely forgotten because he only played eight seasons, bouncing around for the last part of his career after toiling in the obscurity of Seattle, but he did great work over that three year span here.

Thanks to the mid-season strike that wiped out two months of the 1981 season, Tom Paciorek’s performance that year won’t jump off the page in raw totals, but it’s the best LF season the M’s have ever gotten. He hit .326/.379/.509, finishing second in batting average, tenth in on base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, and fourth in OPS. In 104 games, he was worth about 27 runs over an average hitter, which tied him for the fourth best mark in the A.L. that year.

Bradley was a top 10 hitter in 1985, but Paciorek was a top 5 hitter in 1981. Even with the shortened season leading to lower counting stats, Paciorek’s relative value that season was just a bit higher than Bradley’s was in 1985. 27 runs in 104 games for Paciorek works out to .26 runs per game above average, while Bradley’s 30 runs in 160 games rates out to .18 runs per game above average. Even if we factor a regression into Paciorek’s season line to account for the smaller sample of games, the difference between their two performances on a per game basis is too large for Bradley to close the offensive gap.

Unless there’s compelling reason to believe that Bradley swamps Paciorek defensively, I think it has to be the 1981 season here. Phil Bradley was definitely an underappreciated player who had a nice run as the M’s LF in the mid-80s, but he never had a season as good as Paciorek’s final year in Seattle. And, as Derek noted, there isn’t really any competition beyond these two – the LF spot has been a black hole for this franchise for a long, long time.

1981 Tom Paciorek. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Yup, you’re right. Plus, Paciorek played for Maury Wills, so you have to give him some credit for that. Good catch on the strike season, I didn’t consider that enough. Looking at his rate stats relative to the rest of the league is persuasive. I think I’d give defense to Bradley over Paciorek, but there’s not enough for me to say it overcomes the difference in their hitting.

My only concern, and you touched on this, is that in shortening seasons we would increasingly look at smaller and smaller sizes — and I think this is backed up in a way by Paciorek’s career. He never came close to replicating 1981’s brilliant performance. But like Brady Anderson’s monster season, it’s there, and for that year, he was more valuable to his team than Bradley was, relatively, over a longer season.

Interestingly, both players in the years we’re talking about displayed a level of versatility that would be curious today.

Paciorek, 1981, started 78 games in left, 11 games in center, and 14 games in right.
Bradley, 1985, started 124 games in left, 27 games in center, and 10 games in right.

When you look at recent Mariner teams, for instance, there’s almost no regulars starting that often at another position. I wonder how much of that is the increasing calcification of rosters: almost no manager today goes in for the kind of situational and matchup roster-flexing that used to be common (and quite effective). Even platooning’s looked down on now.

Anyway — if we picked Bradley, I think we’d be fine, it’s a perfectly defensible choice, but Paciorek was indeed more valuable in that season, even if that season was shorter.


35 Responses to “All-Time All-Mariner Roster: Left Field”

  1. msb on July 11th, 2008 7:56 pm

    plus, Paciorek gives you that all-important clubhouse character, not to mention some say he coined of “the Mendoza Line”

  2. Eastside Crank on July 14th, 2008 8:25 am

    I remember Paciorek coming up through the Dodger organization at a time they were producing solid home grown talent. He was a reserve outfielder behind Billy Buckner, Jimmy Winn, and Willie Crawford and played all three positions but mostly left. I do not remember him having much of an arm, he did not have blazing speed, and his hitting stats for the Dodgers were a far cry from his career year in Seattle. If you had not brought him up I never would have guessed that he did so well here. It is a sad statement that he represents the best Mariner effort in left.

  3. azfred on July 14th, 2008 8:53 am

    Funny I remember Paciorek more as a 1st basemen but looking at 1981 stats it looks like he was exclusively an outfielder for that year. I have an autographed picture of him somewhere that I believe lists him as the 1st basemen for the Ms in the caption, but I don’t recall what year the picture is from.

    Anyway, that brings me to a greater point – are you looking for the single best year or overall contribution to the team at the position? If it’s the latter, I have to think that Bradley is the better choice. Bradley played 595 games as an outfielder for the Ms from 83 to 87. Paciorek played just 292 games as an outfielder for the Ms from 78-81 – the rest of his time was spent playing 1st base.

    I actually have to work today so I don’t have time to dig deeper into the stats, but I think a reasonable argument can be made that Bradley’s contribution was greater.

  4. Paul B on July 14th, 2008 8:55 am

    Phil Bradley’s 1985 line deserves a mention for an oddity: he had exactly zero homers in 389 at bats prior to 1985, and then he had 26 homers in 1985.

    This was a pattern that I only remember seeing with Kirby Puckett (0 HR in 557 AB in 1984, 4 HR in 691 AB in 1985, and then 31 HR in 1986).

    This stuck in my mind since these were in consecutive seasons (Bradley in 1985, Puckett in 1986).

  5. JerBear on July 14th, 2008 9:17 am

    azfred – to answer your question, they’re looking for the best single season performance at each position.

  6. zzyzx on July 14th, 2008 9:44 am

    Did you skip over shortstop or did I miss it? Not like there’s going to be much debate there mind you…

  7. Jeff Nye on July 14th, 2008 9:46 am
  8. zzyzx on July 14th, 2008 9:49 am

    Thanks. I don’t know why I couldn’t find that in the archives.

  9. Grizz on July 14th, 2008 10:08 am

    Tom Paciorek gets a warm, fuzzy bonus point (no analytical value) as not only the first Mariner to seriously compete for a batting title (back when it was a big deal and garnered national attention), but for carrying the M’s in their first ever pennant race. Yes, thanks to the strike and the minors-like split season (with first half and second half division winners), the M’s remained in contention for the Second-Half AL West crown until the last week of the season. It was one of the few brief moments the M’s were relevant in their pre-Griffey days.

  10. robbbbbb on July 14th, 2008 10:16 am

    I went looking at Randy Winn, just to see how he stacked up. Nothing more than an average hitter ever, and even if you factor in his good (great?) left field defense in a park where LF defense matters a lot that can’t overcome Paciorek’s ’81.

  11. IdahoInvader on July 14th, 2008 10:30 am

    Two great blasts from the past in Mariner lore!

    I know each had some big walk off home runs. Paciorek vs the Yankees twice in the same weekend. Zisk and Paciorek both battled it out for the batting title in the strike shortened year. I remember it really was a big deal for us M’s fans which seemed few and far between back then. Pretty sure Bradley also played QB at a Big 12 school fwiw and once about killed Buck Martinez in a home plate collision.

  12. Steve T on July 14th, 2008 10:32 am

    I’ll second Grizz on the warm fuzzies — aside from Paciorek, no Mariners garnered even a moment’s attention from the national press back in those days, except for one-off stunts like Gaylord Perry’s 300th win or Lenny Randle on his hands and knees blowing a bunt foul. It was as if we weren’t really in the league at all. Paciorek changed that, and I remember the excitement of seeing his name in bold on the batting average leaderboard — “Look, we exist!” This is before Bill James wrote “welcome to the big leagues, Seattle” after 1982, when we finally got over 70 wins (whoo hoo!). Of course, we weren’t really big-league until a decade later when we finally got over .500.

  13. Jay R. on July 14th, 2008 10:46 am

    Paciorek vs the Yankees twice in the same weekend.

    I have very vivid memories of that. I was at the first game, and then listening to the second game on the radio in my bedroom at home. I think that about when I first realized that listening to Dave Niehaus do a game was a hell of a lot of fun.

  14. Ninja Jordan on July 14th, 2008 10:51 am

    Damn. The M’s really don’t have a prestigious history. Tom Paciorek? Phil Bradley? yikes

  15. Brian on July 14th, 2008 11:10 am

    Hard to believe left field could be discussed without mention of the great Greg Briley and Henry Cotto 🙂

  16. smb on July 14th, 2008 11:11 am


    And after peaking from ’95-03, it’s painful in ’08 to look back at when we were big-league, you know, since the ascension has since been revoked.

  17. Red Apple on July 14th, 2008 11:17 am

    I know each had some big walk off home runs.

    I’ll say. Bradley had that grand slam in the 9th with two outs, trailing by three runs. If memory serves me correctly, it was even on a 3-2 pitch.

  18. Grizz on July 14th, 2008 11:26 am

    I know each had some big walk off home runs. Paciorek vs the Yankees twice in the same weekend.

    Bat Night 1981 (Paciorek’s second walk-off HR game against the Yankees) was Niehaus’s best call ever in my book. In the bottom of the ninth, the M’s trail by two, but get two men aboard. This brings the previous night’s hero, Paciorek, to the plate. [Niehaus] asks, can he do it again? While the Kingdome was generally empty in this era, it was packed that night for both the Yankees and free full-size bats, with ten thousand kids banging Louisville Sluggers on the metal bleachers. [Niehaus!!] has to scream the call as the ball will fly, fly away.

  19. msb on July 14th, 2008 11:45 am

    Damn. The M’s really don’t have a prestigious history. Tom Paciorek? Phil Bradley? yikes

    well, left field was that black hole– wasn’t Shane Monahan the 50-somethingth left fielder just to play next to Junior?

  20. IdahoInvader on July 14th, 2008 11:50 am

    Actually Bradley’s was indeed a slam but I believe it was off of the first pitch from Ron Davis who had A LOT of troubles w/ walk offs that year. The late Ivan Calderon had just walked on a full count in a great at bat. I remember listening to that exciting game in junior high and wondering if we were ever going to lose that year, lol. (I think that made us something like 5-0).

  21. robbbbbb on July 14th, 2008 11:51 am

    Grizz (18), I don’t know about the call. I was in the stands both nights. It was awesome.

    I was a seven year old kid, and Paciorek just had these two monster nights against the hated Yankees. One of my best childhood memories.

  22. Brian Rust on July 14th, 2008 12:09 pm

    I nominate the 49 games of Jose Cruz Jr. in 1997 as honorable mention. His .268/315/.541 was good for a 120 OPS+. He could cover some ground in the field, too.

    As I recall, it was about a week after I was in the Kingdome for his walk-off HR that he was gone for Timlin and Spoljaric. Yeesh.

  23. BloomquistFan16 on July 14th, 2008 12:45 pm

    Can I get an honorable mention for Mark “Hard Hittin'” Whiten in 1996? Only 40 games in an M’s uniform, but he did put up a .300/.399/.607.

  24. DMZ on July 14th, 2008 1:03 pm

    No you cannot.

  25. JI on July 14th, 2008 2:36 pm

    No you cannot.

    But he hit a walkoff grand slam! At a game I was at!

  26. IdahoInvader on July 14th, 2008 2:48 pm

    Off of Myers, right?

    If that ’96 team only had some pitching sooner in the year.

    Great to hear about Paciorek (whitest hair I’ve ever seen at the end of his career this side of Phil Niekro) and Bradley again!

    Glenn Wilson (who we foolishly traded Bradley for) sure gave us nuthin’

  27. Paul B on July 14th, 2008 5:39 pm

    Glenn Wilson (who we foolishly traded Bradley for) sure gave us nuthin’

    But Glenn Wilson had 100 RBIs before he came to the Mariners! He had veteran grit! He had experience! He had chemistry!

  28. jwgrandsalami on July 14th, 2008 6:20 pm

    DMZ wrote: “Plus, Paciorek played for Maury Wills, so you have to give him some credit for that.”

    Maury Wills was fired on May 6th that year, a month into the season, so he really shouldn’t get that much credit for having to play for the worst manager in Major League history…

  29. jacob.kreutzer on July 14th, 2008 6:36 pm

    Just to play Winn’s advocate, could he be an exception to the 20-run defensive value range rule? With Cameron manning center, Winn could have been a +30 run fielder and still been stuck in left field.

  30. DMZ on July 14th, 2008 7:01 pm

    The Maury Wills bit was a joke.

  31. DMZ on July 14th, 2008 7:02 pm

    Also, w/r/t Winn: could he be? Sure, but he wasn’t.

  32. Ralph_Malph on July 14th, 2008 9:09 pm

    I was at the 2nd Paciorek walk-off game in 1981: May 9, 1981. Great stuff. Mariners down 5-3, 2-out, bottom of the 9th, and Paciorek hit a 3-run shot off Ron Davis.

    My clearest memory of that game was that Gossage was still warming up in the bullpen when Paciorek hit the home run; I was sitting out in the outfield and the whole time Paciorek was up you could hear the booming “pop, pop” of Gossage’s fastball smacking the glove in the Yankees bullpen, but he never got the call.

    51,903 people in the Kingdome, if you can believe that, for Bat Night.

    If it seems incredible that Paciorek played centerfield, remember that some of the time he was in center along with Bochte in left and Jeff Burroughs in right. In case you think an outfield with Ibanez in left is bad. Dave Henderson came up later that year to play CF.

  33. DMZ on July 14th, 2008 9:22 pm

    I remember going to bat night as a kid — the turnout was huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge.

    And funny nose-and-glasses night. That was awesome.

  34. Breadbaker on July 15th, 2008 12:31 am

    Bradley for Wilson was just another in a series of Argyros-inspired trades whenever anyone with any talent got close to free agency. Ruppert Jones, Floyd Bannister, Shane Rawley, Julio Cruz, Dave Henderson, Mark Langston, you name it, the M’s weren’t going to give an extension to anyone, and we’d get pennies on the dollar for most of them (obviously, Langston excepted). Every team in baseball knew not to offer much, because George would order the GM of the month to make the best deal he had on the table. Other than the Expos, appparently.

  35. vj on July 15th, 2008 1:07 am

    One downside of your arrangement of the all-time roster:
    The M’s three greatest outfielders were Junior, Buhner and Ichiro (with Cameron probably coming in fourth). Since you stick to position played rather than ‘outfielder’ (as in the all-star vote) or ‘corner outfielder’, one of them (probably Buhner) will be relegated to reserve. If they had all been on the same team, it is clear that one of them (probably Buhner) would have been switched to left, ahead of Bradley or Paciorek, who had a few nice seasons but no big place in franchise history.
    Well, you make the rules and they are what they are.

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