The 1980 Seattle Mariners are a strange bunch. We don’t really know much about them, besides cool ones. Alvin Davis, Harold Reynolds, etc. Even Mark Langston seems like a bit of a stretch for people of our generation. We had no emotional connection to these players. They never won anything, they seldom did anything worth personal recognition (with a few exception’s we’ll discover), and they were so bad sometimes they cast a shadow of hatred over themselves that can never be undone. (IE my father’s eternal disdain for Dave Valle). But none the less they are a part of our beloved history as Mariner fans and I feel like we all owe it to ourselves to learn a little about our rich historical tradition.
So without further ado, I give you the greatest Mariners of the 1980’s.
10. Tom Paciorek, LF
Since I really don’t have an emotional connection with any of the players I’m about to list, I used cold heartless Wins Above Replacement (WAR) to judge them like robots in cages, fighting to the death. Tom Paciorek was drafted in the 5th round by the Dodgers in 1968 and made is MLB debut a few years later in 1970. After six some odd years playing off the bench for the Dodgers he went to Atlanta, was released after five games, and signed as a free agent with your own Seattle Mariners.
He made this list because of his 1981 season when he led the team with 3.9 WAR. To put that in perspective Ichiro has 3.9 WAR this season. In ’81 Paciorek or Wimpy as some fondly called him batted .326/.379/.509 slugging a legendary team second 14 home runs. I’m sure he’s a great guy.
9. Scott Bankhead, P
The M’s traded for Bankhead in 1986 for some players you’ve never heard of. He then had a couple okay seasons and then posted a 4.2 WAR in 1989. He threw 210 innings, about 80 more then he previously had thrown in his career. He finished the year 14-6 and was named co-MVP of the team along with Alvin Davis. Good for him.
8. Floyd Bannister, P
A local boy hailing from Burien, Wash., Bannister run as a mediocre pitcher for the M’s in the early 80’s. He made the All-Star team in 1982 when he accumulated 4.3 WAR which was good for 6th in the American League. He also lead the league in strike outs that year with 209.
7. Jim Beattie, P
Now besides the few stars we’ll get to in a minute, most of the players on this list are pitchers. It’s pretty interesting that the M’s had some decent talent on the mound throughout the 80’s because they’re position players were JUST AWFUL. Terrible. So bad.
Beattie joined the M’s in 1980 after two years being okay to bad for the Yankees. He struggled for a couple years posting 5.21 and 4.85 ERA’s in 1980 and 81, but then posted a 2.97 ERA in 1981. Oh wait, he only started nine games. He really wasn’t that good. Only a 1.6 WAR. But still lead the pitchers for that team in WAR. Man the Mariners were bad.
Anyways, his break out season came in 1984 when he posted a 4.8 WAR just narrowly beating out up and comer Mark Langston who had a 4.4. Being a good pitcher must have really rubbed him the wrong way because he the next year he sucked and the year after that he sucked some more and then he retired. Must have been depressed that in the second year of his career he won a World Series, then went off to rot on one of the worst franchises the baseball world had ever seen.
6. Matt Young, P
Young, best known for pitching a no-hitter and losing while with the Red Sox, was drafted by the M’s and spent his first three seasons with the Mariners. His break out year was also his Rookie year as he cracked the top ten in ERA for the American League. It also lead to an All Star appearance and a team leading 4.8 WAR.
5. Mike Moore, P
I’m sick of writing about pitchers. Mike Moore was one of the M’s many first pick over all’s, his coming in 1981. He made his debut just a year later, but it wasn’t until 1985 when he posted a 5.6 WAR establishing himself above the rest of the M’s pitching staff. Like well beyond the rest. That was a really bad staff, the closest coming to Moore was Ed Nunez who was only worth 1.6 WAR.
Moore would have a great ’86 season as well leading the league in games started, batters faced, and third in HBP. Is that good?
4. Phil Bradley, LF
Bradley led the position players on the Mariners in WAR from 1985-87, which is not really that impressive when you think about his colleagues. But none the less 1985 was a big year for Bradley hitting .300 with a career high 26 home runs, a mark that he would not even come close to the rest of his career.
3. Harold Reynolds, 2B
For as much as we adore Harold for his smooth looks and ways with the ladies, he really only had one or two good seasons for the M’s. He of course had his league leading 60 stolen base season in ’87, but he wasn’t much of a threat at the plate. He hit for an okay average, didn’t walk a lot, and hit for zero power. He did win three straight Gold Gloves for the M’s from 1988-1990. I feel like I’m really down on my number three on the list, but looking at these stats, I guess it’s like the current Mariner squad. The standard of good is lowered when you totally suck.
Here’s a sweet video to break up the monotony of this depressing list.
2. Alvin Davis, 1B
Finally, Mr. Mariner! I grew up knowing who Alvin Davis was just because of his nickname and my life size growth chart I had to check my height. Davis was if nothing consistent. The big year came his first when he won Rookie of the Year honors with .284/.391/.497 batting line and 27 dingers. He would drop down to 18 homers the next two years but then bounce back with 29 in ’87. He was always good for a decent average, a lot of walks, and a good amount of HR’s. I’m glad to say he’s one of the players on this list who was an actual contributor to the M’s for a long period of time.
1. Mark Langston
Now we get to the man who brought us Randy Johnson. Mark Langston was the M’s first true #1 ace. He led the league in strike outs in ’84, ’86, and ’87, as well as a slew of Gold Gloves if that matters. He had four 4+ WAR seasons with the M’s and represented us in the All-Star game twice. Plus he brought us back Randy Johnson in his trade to Montreal making the 80’s worth while for M’s fans in the 90’s.
I really encourage everyone to look for video on these players because there are tons of You Tube slide show tribute songs written but people that think they’re really cool, but I’d be very interested to see some actual video. Everyone knows the Mariners sucked in the 80’s, but they were still Mariners and it’s important to know you’re baseball heritage, ya know?