Tag: Seattle Mariners

Making Sense of Baseball’s Edgar Martinez, Designated Hitter HOF Debate

The Hall of Fame lists Frank Thomas as a first baseman.

Not as a first baseman/designated hitter. Not as a designated hitter/first baseman.

Thomas started 340 more games as a DH than he did at first base, but nowhere on his Cooperstown plaque or on his page on the Hall of Fame website does it even mention his time at DH. Paul Molitor is a third baseman, according to the Hall, even though he started 1,168 games as a DH and 786 at third base.

When will we put a DH in the Hall of Fame? We already have.

Just not Edgar Martinez.

He was so good at the job that baseball named the annual DH award after him. He’s so connected to the job that you get the feeling it’s the biggest thing keeping him out of Cooperstown.

He was, as ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark wrote, “one of the great hitters of his generation.”

And yet until this year, I didn’t give him a Hall of Fame vote. I’m not alone. As recently as 2014, Martinez got just 25.2 percent of the vote.

He jumped to 43.4 percent last year, and Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame Tracker has him taking another jump this year. He’s gaining votes, but he’s also running out of time. It doesn’t look likely he’ll get in this year, and he’ll be on the ballot only two more times.

In other words, it’s about time we figure out what to do with him. It’s about time we figure out how to judge a guy who barely wore a glove for the final decade of his career.

It’s about time we come to grips with the DH rule, now in its 45th year in the American League.

Do we judge a guy who was almost exclusively a DH (71 percent of his career starts and 98 percent of his starts in his final 10 seasons) the way we would any other hitter? Or does he need to be even better to make up for not contributing anything on the other side of the game?

Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated, who spends as much time as anyone evaluating Hall of Fame candidates, calls Martinez one of the top 30 or 40 hitters of all time. During the best seven-year stretch of his career (1995-2001), Martinez ranked third in the majors in Baseball-Reference.com‘s OPS+, which equalizes for league and ballpark.

The only two guys ahead of him during that span? Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire.

Neither of them is in the Hall of Fame, either, but that’s another argument. It’s that other argumentthe steroid argumentthat dominates Hall of Fame debates. It’s so overwhelming that it obscures other just-as-interesting discussions, such as what to do with closers and what to do with designated hitters.

The Martinez debate is more than just a DH debate, though. He finished in the top five in MVP voting just once (1995), and his career totals (2,247 hits, 309 home runs) look a little light, in part because he didn’t become a major league regular until he was 27.

He didn’t have as many big postseason moments as David Ortiz, a DH who will likely find an easier path to Cooperstown.

But Martinez was still a great hitter, and it’s hard to believe he’d have such a hard time with voters if he’d spent the majority of his career at third base.

“I can’t believe any AL voter would discriminate against him,” Bob Ryan wrote in the Boston Globe. “Has to be those NL Luddites.”

Yeah, except that two of the guys who didn’t vote for Martinez this year (Nick Cafardo and Dan Shaughnessy) have covered the Boston Red Sox for the Globe.

“I have left off Edgar Martinez, never feeling his numbers were quite good enough,” Cafardo wrote.

I know the feeling. I looked at Martinez’s numbers every year, and every year I thought, “Not quite good enough.”

Eventually, I realized I was looking for too much. I was asking for too much, trying to make up for what Martinez didn’t do on defense. I never eliminated him because he had been a DH, but I set unrealistic standards for him because he was one.

I switched this year, and I don’t expect to switch back. I’m not alone on that, either. Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame Tracker has Martinez adding 31 votes this year (while inexplicably losing one). My Bleacher Report colleague Scott Miller was also one of the switches, citing many of the same reasons I did.

Martinez finally has momentum on his side. He has plenty of numbers on his side, including those where he compares favorably to Ortiz (147-141 edge for Martinez in OPS+, .933-.931 in OPS, 68.3-55.4 in Baseball-Reference.com’s version of WAR).

And just as it ought to help Trevor Hoffman that baseball named its National League Reliever of the Year Award after him, it should help Martinez that it’s the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award (which Ortiz won in 2016).

Cy Young is in the Hall of Fame, isn’t he?


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

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Jarrod Dyson to Mariners for Nathan Karns: Latest Trade Details, Reaction

The Seattle Mariners made a move to upgrade their outfield Friday when they acquired Jarrod Dyson from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns, according to the News Tribune‘s Bob Dutton.  

MLB.com’s Greg Johns confirmed the report, and the Mariners made the move official shortly thereafter. 

“Jarrod brings us a winning pedigree, along with elite-level defense and baserunning,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said, according to a team press release. “He joins players like Leonys Martin and Jean Segura in creating a disruptive element on the bases to our offensive game while also enhancing our ability to prevent runs on defense.”

After the Mariners announced the trade, Dyson posted a message on Twitter thanking the Royals organization:

Dyson is not going to bring much power to the table considering he’s tallied seven career home runs and 101 RBI since he debuted in 2010, but he will offer the Mariners a major upgrade on the basepaths. 

The 32-year-old has recorded at least 25 stolen bases in five consecutive seasons, which is welcome news for a Seattle team that ranked 24th in MLB last season with 56 swipes. 

Since 2012, Dyson has recorded 156 stolen bases, tied for sixth-most in the majors (also: Ben Revere) during that time span,” the Mariners’ press release noted. “Over the last five seasons, the left-handed hitter has been successful on 84.8 percent (156-of-184) of his stolen base attempts, second-best in the majors during that time.”

Johns broke down what Dyson’s addition says about the Mariners’ approach entering the 2017 season: 

As for the Royals, Karns represents a low-risk, low-cost acquisition who could help bolster the team’s pitching staff over time, as MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan noted: 

And while the 29-year-old’s 14-9 record and 4.41 ERA in 46 career starts may not be jaw-dropping, he did start last year 5-1 through the first two months of the season before his production tailed off and he was bothered by a lower back strain. 

If Karns can channel his pre-All-Star break form from 2016 and continue to keep his fastball velocity around 93 mph while effectively mixing in his curveball and changeup, he could soon look like a bargain for a club that is hoping to return to the postseason following a one-year absence. 

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Seth Smith Contract Option Picked Up by Mariners: Latest Details and Reaction

The Seattle Mariners announced they picked up outfielder Seth Smith‘s $7 million club option for 2017 on Thursday.

Since the Mariners acquired him in a trade with the San Diego Padres ahead of the 2015 campaign, Smith has posted a .248 batting average and .336 on-base percentage with 28 home runs, 105 RBI and 116 runs scored across 273 games with the organization.

His 16 home runs last season marked the second-highest total of his career behind only his 2010 campaign with the Colorado Rockies. He also set a new career high with 63 RBI.

The Ole Miss product attributed his success to a better approach at the plate after making some minor adjustments, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

“Just make sure you are getting started early enough,” Smith said in July. “Some basic hitting things that sometimes you need to get back to.”

He’s also been better suited for a platoon role in which he starts only against right-handed pitchers. He owns a .355 on-base percentage and .827 OPS against righties compared to his .282 OBP and .594 OPS against lefties in his career, according to Yahoo Sports.

Ultimately, the Mariners decided he was worth the $7 million investment. The team’s offense ranked sixth in runs scored last season, and picking up Smith’s option leaves one less void to fill as Seattle attempts to match or exceed that output in 2017.

How the outfield will shape up probably won’t become clear until after spring training. Smith could end up splitting time with Guillermo Heredia at one of the corner spots, but the team may thrust him into a full-time role if a platoon partner doesn’t emerge.


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Steve Clevenger Suspended: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Seattle Mariners announced they have suspended catcher Steve Clevenger without pay for the remainder of the regular season after he sent a series of offensive tweets Thursday.

“As soon as we became aware of the tweets posted by Steve Clevenger yesterday we began to examine all of our options in regard to his standing on the team,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement Friday. “Today we have informed him that he is suspended for the remainder of the season without pay.”

In tweets that have since been deleted, Clevenger appeared to make references to the unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina, after a police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott.

“Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha s–t cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the Anthem!” he wrote, according to the Seattle TimesMatt Pentz.

The second tweet reportedly referenced the Black Lives Matter movement and President Barack Obama.

“BLM is pathetic once again,” Clevenger said. “Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals.”

After Clevenger’s tweets made the rounds, he issued a statement of apology, as shared by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

“The Seattle Mariners are very disappointed at the tweets posted on Steve Clevenger’s account,” Dipoto said in a statement Thursday. “While he is certainly free to express himself, his tweets do not in any way represent the opinions of the Seattle Mariners. We strongly disagree with the language and tone of his comments.”

The 30-year-old is on the 60-day disabled list and hasn’t appeared in a game since June 29 after he fractured the third metacarpal in his right hand.

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Mariners Suspend Steve Clevenger for Controversial Tweets

Seattle Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger has been suspended for controversial tweets he posted regarding the civil unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina. The team announced the punishment on Friday. 

Jon Humbert of KOMO 4 shared a screen cap of two tweets from the catcher (warning: tweets contain NSFW language):

Mariners general manager and executive vice president Jerry DiPoto released a statement on the situation, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times:

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided a statement from Clevenger, via Facebook:

Clevenger’s tweets and the protests in Charlotte followed the death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was shot and killed by police officers who were looking for someone else with an outstanding warrant Tuesday, per FoxNews.com.

According to WSOCTV.com, nine civilians and five officers have been hurt in the subsequent demonstrations, and Gov. Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency.

Another black man, Terence Crutcher, was shot and killed by police within the same week. Crutcher’s death occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday.

Nick Carboni of WCNC.com noted that the NFL and Carolina Panthers are monitoring the situation in Charlotte but still plan on playing the team’s scheduled home game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Charlotte Hornets owner and all-time NBA great Michael Jordan released a statement offering condolences to the Scott family and asking the Charlotte community to come together:

In light of the tragic events of the past three days, it is more important than ever that we restore calm and come together, as a community, in peaceful demonstration and conversation, and in constructive and non-violent ways. As part of the fabric of Charlotte, the Hornets organization is committed to working with civic leaders, our elected leaders and law enforcement to foster more trust, transparency and understanding so we can heal and grow together as a community.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has generated plenty of headlines and discussion with his own form of peaceful demonstration by kneeling during the national anthem before his team takes the field as a way of protesting racial injustice in the United States.

As for Clevenger, he is slashing .221/.303/.309 with one home run and seven RBI this season but is on the 60-day disabled list because of a broken hand.

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Taijuan Walker Pitched His 1st Career Complete-Game Shutout Against the Angels

Fact: Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker pitched a complete-game shutout against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, the first of his career.

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Diaz Sets Record with 50th Career Strikeout in Just 25.1 Innings

Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Edwin Diaz has reached 50 career strikeouts faster than any major leaguer since at least 1893, needing just 25.1 innings to reach the mark, which he accomplished during Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Info).

Recently promoted to the closer’s role, the 22-year-old Diaz picked up his first save Tuesday night, striking out three of the four batters he faced to finish out a come-from-behind victory after the Mariners rallied from a 4-0 deficit with a five-run eighth inning.

The Puerto Rican rookie right-hander has quickly established himself as one of baseball’s most dominant relievers, now boasting a 1.73 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with 52 strikeouts (and just eight walks) in 26 innings.

Diaz has struck out a whopping 46 percent of the batters he has faced, which ranks tops in MLB among all pitchers who have thrown 20 or more innings, though New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (44.3 percent) and Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller (44.3) aren’t too far behind—with both having already topped the 45-inning mark this season.

Just as encouraging as his robust season-long numbers, Diaz has now gone 10 straight appearances without allowing a run, striking out 20 of the 37 batters (54.1 percent) he’s faced while allowing just seven hits and two walks over that span.

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Cano Becomes 4th Player with 50 Extra-Base Hits in Each of 1st 12 Years

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano mashed his 50th extra-base hit of the season in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox, per MLB Stat of the Day. He joins Carlos Lee, Albert Pujols and Eddie Mathews as one of just four players in major league history to begin his career with 12 straight seasons of 50 or more extra-base hits.

Even better, Cano’s milestone hit came at the perfect time. His three-run, no-doubt homer to right-center field capped off a five-run eighth inning that propelled the Mariners to a come-from-behind 5-4 victory against a team they may end up battling for a wild-card spot.

Cano’s 24 homers this season already represent his best total through three years in Seattle. And he’s now on pace to hit 37 for the year, which would top his previous career-high mark of 33, set in 2012 during his second-to-last season with the New York Yankees.

He also has 25 doubles and a triple, putting him on pace to finish with 78 extra-base hits, which would be his best total since he had 82 in 2012.

It certainly helps that the 33-year-old second baseman has yet to miss a game, allowing him to rank eighth in the American League in plate appearances (468) and fifth in at-bats (426) entering Wednesday’s action.

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Drew Storen to Mariners: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Toronto Blue Jays traded reliever Drew Storen and cash considerations to the Seattle Mariners for another reliever in Joaquin Benoit on Tuesday, according to the Mariners’ official PR Twitter account.

Storen, 28, has had his struggles at times with the Blue Jays this season, going 1-3 with a 6.21 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 32 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched. He’s served primarily as the team’s setup man with Roberto Osuna firmly entrenched as the team’s closer.

Indeed, the past two seasons have been interesting ones for Storen.

After finally being handed the reins to the Washington Nationals closer’s gig for much of last season, Storen responded with 29 saves. But the Nationals traded for Jonathan Papelbon and moved him into the closer’s role, moving Storen back to the ninth inning.

The decision backfired dramatically. Not only did Storen desire to be traded (per James Wagner of the Washington Post) after Papelbon was acquired, but his performance dipped significantly, as he posted an 8.49 ERA in August and a 5.40 ERA in September.

That made his offseason trade to the Blue Jays for outfielder Ben Revere fairly inevitable. It’s a bit more surprising that he’s already been dealt less than a year later, however.

For Seattle, Storen offers the ability to either solidify the closer position—likely his preferred role—or continue to pitch in the setup role in the eighth inning. He’s a veteran arm who has postseason experience and has flashed the ability to be one of the finest relievers in baseball when he’s at his best.

Steve Cishek has done a rather fine job in the closer role for the Mariners, converting 24 of 29 save opportunities with a 2.80 ERA this season.

That means Storen will likely continue to be a setup man as Seattle hopes to bolster its bullpen and climb the American League wild-card standings down the stretch.

Tuesday’s move appears to be a savvy one-on-one swap for the Mariners. They got younger by dealing the 39-year-old Benoit, who’s had struggles of his own with a 5.18 ERA in 2016.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Nelson Cruz Had at Least 7 RBI in a Game with 3 Different Teams

Fact: Seattle Mariners outfielder Nelson Cruz had seven RBI versus the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. He now has had at least seven RBI in a game with three different teams (Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Mariners).

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

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