The “Franchise Four,” aka “The Mount Rushmore Four,” a campaign by Major League Baseball to select the top four players in the history of each of its 30 franchises, concluded Tuesday night prior to the All-Star Game in Cincinnati with Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez topping a non-controversial vote by Mariners fans.
Except — Randy Johnson, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in a matter of weeks, didn’t make the list even though he is the most dominant pitcher in franchise history and its first Cy Young Award winner.
Griffey’s selection was a no-brainer. He made made 10 All-Star teams during his tenure (1989-99) in Seattle and won the American League MVP award in 1997 unanimously with a career-high 56 home runs, 147 RBIs and 125 runs scored. More than any other player, Griffey is responsible for keeping the Mariners from moving out of Seattle.
Martinez played his entire 18-year career with the Mariners, making seven All-Star teams, winning five Silver Slugger awards and two batting titles. Now Seattle’s hitting coach, he delivered “The Double,” the walk-off, two-run hit that lifted the Mariners past the Yankees in the 1995 AL Division Series. When he retired following the 2004 season, the Edgar Martínez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was named in his honor.
Ichiro played 10-plus seasons with the Mariners, winning two batting crowns (2001, 2004) and leading the AL in hits seven times, including his MLB record-breaking 262 in 2004. He made 10 All-Star teams and won the 2001 Rookie of the Year and MVP awards.
Hernandez, who made his MLB debut in August 2005, is the only current Mariner on the list. The 2010 AL Cy Young award winner, Hernandez owns the only perfect game in franchise history and is a six-time All-Star. He is 11-5 with a 2.84 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 112 strikeouts in 18 starts (117.3 innings) this season.
Johnson won the 1995 Cy Young award while pitching for Seattle, and was traded to the Houston Astros July 31, 1998, after franchise concerns that his surgically repaired back would compromise the 35-year-old’s career. But Johnson, who won 130 games in a Seattle uniform, went on to win four more Cy Youngs and a co-World Series MVP award with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He ended his career with 303 wins and is now widely considered the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time.