Baseball fans have debated over all-star selections forever. Thanks to the wonders of technology – combined with an aging sports writer’s dogged research and cluttered memory bank – baseball fans can now debate the merits of five Washington-based all-star teams listed below.
With a bow to the annual major league All-Star Game Tuesday in San Diego, our picks focus solely on a player’s best season in the major leagues, save for our all-names team. We’ve put together one all-star collection of Seattle Mariners as well as teams made up of former Washington high school, college and minor league players.
So many years, so many teams, so many players. If we missed your favorite player, let us know.
For statistical biographies, please consult baseball-reference.com
Catcher – Dan Wilson, 1996. Hit .285 with 18 home runs and 83 runs batted in. “Dan the Man” posted a .996 fielding percentage and threw out 39 percent of attempted base stealers.
First base – John Olerud, 2002. Batted .300 with 22 home runs, 102 RBIs and a .403 on-base percentage. Won a Gold Glove for his stellar defensive work.
Second base – Bret Boone, 2001. Led the American League with 141 RBIs and hit .331 with 37 home runs. In addition, he racked up a .372 OBP, .578 slugging percentage and 118 runs.
Third base – Adrian Beltre, 2007. Gold Glove winner hit .276 with 26 homers and 99 RBIs.
Shortstop – Alex Rodriguez, 1996. Not that he hasn’t lied before, but A-Rod insists he had yet to begin using steroids when he led the AL with a .358 batting average, 379 total bases, 54 doubles and 141 runs. He clubbed 36 homers, drove in 123 runs and had a .414 OBP and .631 slugging percentage. It was Rodriguez’s first full season in the majors; he didn’t turn 21 until midseason.
Outfield – Ken Griffey Jr., 1997. Choosing Junior’s greatest season is akin to choosing the greatest sunset, but ‘97 was special even by Griffey’s lofty standards. The Hall of Famer was named the AL’s Most Valuable Player after leading the league with 56 home runs, 147 RBIs, 125 runs and a .646 slugging percentage. He won a Gold Glove, hit .304 and had a .382 OBP.
Outfield – Ichiro Suzuki, 2004. Ichiro set a major league record with 262 hits and registered career highs with a .372 batting average (tops in the American League), .414 OBP and .455 slugging percentage. He won a Gold Glove, stole 36 bases, hit eight homers and drove in 60 runs.
Outfield – Jay Buhner, 1996. “Bone” hit 44 home runs, drove in 138 runs, batted .271, slugged .557, won a Gold Glove and provided entertaining post-game interviews while slurping beer in the clubhouse.
Designated hitter – Edgar Martinez, 1995. In his first full season as a DH, the former third baseman led the league with a .356 batting average, .479 OBP, 52 doubles and 121 runs. He blasted 29 homers, drove in 113 runs, drew 116 walks and had a slugging percentage of .628.
Utility – Mark McLemore, 2001. McLemore hit .286 with 39 stolen bases while playing six positions (plus DH) in 125 games for a club that tied the major league record of 116 wins. The crafty veteran posted a .384 OBP, hit five homers and drove in 57 runs.
Left-handed starting pitcher – Randy Johnson, 1997. In his last full season in Seattle, the Hall of Famer went 20-4 with a 2.28 earned run average and 291 strikeouts in 213.1 innings.
Right-handed starting pitcher – Felix Hernandez, 2014. “The King” posted a career-low 2.14 ERA and fanned a career-high 248 batters. His record was 15-6, and he issued only 46 walks in 236 innings.
Bullpen closer – J.J. Putz, 2007. The AL relief pitcher of the year went 6-1 with a 1.38 ERA and 40 saves in 68 games. Relying heavily on a wicked split-finger fastball that dove at the batter’s feet, Putz allowed just 37 hits in 71.2 innings and struck out 82.
Set-up reliever – Arthur Rhodes, 2001. The southpaw appeared in 71 games and finished 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA. He struck out 83 in 68 innings.
Manager – Lou Piniella, 2001. “Sweet Lou” guided the Mariners to a remarkable 116-46 record. The 1906 Chicago Cubs (116-36) are the only other major league team that won 116 games.
FORMER WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS
Catcher – Sammy White, Lincoln (Seattle). White established career highs in 1954 when he hit .282 with 14 home runs and 75 RBIs for the Boston Red Sox. He threw out 41 percent of would-be base stealers.
First base – John Olerud, Interlake (Bellevue). Olerud led the American League with a .363 batting average, .473 OBP and 54 doubles for the 1993 World Series champions of Toronto. He collected 200 hits, including 24 homers, drove in 107 runs and scored 109 runs.
Second base – Ryne Sandberg, North Central (Spokane). The Hall of Famer led the National League with 40 home runs, 344 total bases and 116 runs for the 1990 Chicago Cubs. He batted .306, drove in 100 runs and won a Gold Glove.
Third base – Ron Santo, Franklin (Seattle). Santo somehow tied for the NL lead in triples with 13 in 1964, even though he lacked speed and played for the Cubs in a ballpark (Wrigley Field) with short fences. The Hall of Famer also led the league in OBP (.398) and walks (86). He hit .313 with 30 homers, 114 RBIs and a .564 slugging percentage, and he was a Gold Glove winner, too.
Shortstop – Kevin Stocker, Central Valley (Spokane Valley). Stocker joined the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies at midseason and helped the Phils reach the World Series before bowing to Olerud’s Blue Jays. Stocker hit .324 with a .409 OBP in 70 games as a 23-year-old rookie.
Outfield – Earl Averill, Snohomish. The Hall of Famer’s career peaked in 1936 with the Cleveland Indians. Averill hit .378 with 28 home runs, 126 RBIs, and a .627 slugging percentage. He led the American League in hits (232) and triples (15).
Outfield – Jeff Heath, Garfield (Seattle). Heath hit .340 with 24 home runs and 123 RBIs for Cleveland in 1941. He led the AL with 20 triples and coupled a .586 slugging percentage with a .396 OBP.
Outfield – Bob Johnson, Tacoma (Stadium High). Johnson starred on routinely awful teams with the Philadelphia (now Oakland) Athletics. He was never better than in 1939, when he hit .338 with a .446 OBP and a .553 slugging percentage. He pounded 23 homers, drove in 114 runs and scored 115 runs.
Designated hitter — Richie Sexson, Prairie (Vancouver). Sexson quickly petered out during his time with the Mariners, but he blasted 45 home runs and drove in 124 runs for the 2003 Milwaukee Brewers. His slash line: .272/.379/.548.
Utility – Willie Bloomquist, South Kitsap (Port Orchard). Bloomquist played every position but pitcher and catcher during his 14 years in the big leagues, including nine as a Mariner. He hit .302 in 80 games with Arizona in 2012, when he had a career-high 21 doubles (but no home runs).
Left-handed starting pitcher – Vean Gregg, Clarkston. Arm trouble shortened Gregg’s career, but he went 23-7 with an AL-leading 1.80 ERA as a rookie for Cleveland in 1911. He completed 22 of 26 starts and threw five shutouts.
Right-handed starting pitcher – Tim Lincecum, Liberty (Renton). Lincecum won his second consecutive Cy Young Award as the National League’s top pitcher in 2009. Lincecum posted a 15-7 record and 2.48 ERA for San Francisco. He led the league with four complete games, two shutouts and 261 strikeouts in 225.1 innings. His WHIP was a career-best 1.047.
Bullpen closer – Randy Myers, Evergreen (Vancouver). Myers was lights-out for Baltimore in 1997, when he won the reliever of the year award in the American League. He led the league with 45 saves and had a microscopic 1.51 ERA in 61 games.
Set-up reliever – Tom Niedenfuer, Redmond. The big right-hander went 8-3 with a 1.90 ERA and 11 saves in 66 games with the 1983 Los Angeles Dodgers. Niedenfuer gave up just 55 hits in 94.2 innings, and his WHIP was .887. He later pitched for the Mariners.
Manager – Fred Hutchinson, Franklin (Seattle). “Hutch” guided the 1961 Cincinnati Reds to the National League pennant with a 93-61 record. The Reds lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series.
FORMER WASHINGTON COLLEGE PLAYERS
Catcher– Sammy White, Washington. See high school section.
First base – John Olerud, Washington State. See high school section.
Second base – Lenn Sakata, Gonzaga. The diminutive Honolulu native set career highs with a .259 batting average, six home runs, 18 doubles, 31 RBIs and 136 games for the 1982 Baltimore Orioles.
Third base – Ron Cey, Washington State. The former Mount Tahoma High star hit a career-high .283 in 1975, when he clubbed 25 homers and drove in 101 runs with the Dodgers.
Shortstop – Kevin Stocker, Washington. See high school section.
Outfield – Jason Bay, Gonzaga. Bay, who retired after a 2013 stint with the Mariners, hit .306 with a .402 OBP and .559 slugging percentage for the 2005 Pittsburgh Pirates. He slammed 32 homers, drove in 101 runs, scored 110 runs and stole 21 bases.
Outfield – Billy North, Central Washington. North led the American League with 75 stolen bases in 1976, when he hit .276 with a .356 OBP for the Oakland Athletics. North attended Garfield High in Seattle.
Outfield – Mike Kinkade, Washington State. One year after winning an Olympic gold medal with the U.S. team, Kinkade hit .275 in 61 games with Baltimore in 2001. He hit four homers and drove in 16 runs.
Designated hitter – Scott Hatteberg, Washington State. Hatteberg, who starred for Eisenhower High in Yakima, batted .284 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs for Oakland in 2004. His OBP was .367.
Utility — Mike Blowers, Washington/Tacoma Community College. The current Mariners broadcaster batted .257 with 23 home runs and 96 RBIs for the 1995 M’s. Blowers played high school ball at Bethel in Spanaway.
Left-handed starting pitcher — Bud Black, Lower Columbia CC (Longview): Black recorded plenty of career-best marks in 1984 with Kansas City, including 17 wins (against 12 losses), a 3.12 ERA, eight complete games, 35 starts, 257 innings and 140 strikeouts. Black, who started his major league career with the Mariners, graduated from Mark Morris High in Longview.
Right-handed pitcher – Tim Lincecum, Washington. See high school section.
Bullpen closer – Randy Myers, Clark (junior) College. See high school section.
Set-up reliever – Tom Niedenfuer, Washington State. See high school section.
Manager – Bud Black, Lower Columbia. Black guided San Diego to a 90-72 record in 2010. The Padres finished second in the NL West.
FORMER WASHINGTON MINOR LEAGUERS
Catcher – Sandy Alomar Jr., Spokane. Alomar hit .324 with 21 homers and 83 RBIs for Cleveland in 1997. He threw out 32 percent of players trying to steal against him.
First base – Mark McGwire, Tacoma. McGwire admitted to using steroids when he shattered the major league home run record (latter broken by Barry Bonds) with St. Louis in 1998. In addition to his 70 dingers, McGwire drove in 147 runs, hit .299, had a .470 OBP and slugged .752.
Second base – Bill Madlock, Spokane. Madlock won his second consecutive NL batting title with the 1976 Cubs. He hit .339 with 15 home runs and 84 RBIs, and his OBP was .412.
Third base – Ron Cey, Tri-City/Spokane. See college section.
Shortstop – Maury Wills, Seattle/Spokane. Wills made speed sexy again by stealing a then-record 104 bases for the 1962 Dodgers. He was named National League MVP after scoring a whopping 130 runs. Wills is a former Mariners manager.
Outfield – Ken Griffey Jr., Bellingham/Tacoma. See Mariners section.
Outfield – Tony Gwynn, Walla Walla. The Hall of Famer flirted with the magical .400 mark during the strike-shortened 1994 season. He hit .394 in 110 games with San Diego and had a .454 OBP.
Outfield – Tommy Davis, Spokane. Davis led the National League with a .346 batting average, 153 RBIs and 230 hits during a monster 1962 season with the Dodgers. He crushed 27 home runs, scored 120 runs and struck out just 65 times in 711 plate appearances. Davis played for the 1969 Seattle Pilots during the club’s lone season in the American League.
Designated hitter – Chris Davis, Spokane. Davis ranked first in the American League with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs for Baltimore in 2013. He hit .286 and put up a .634 slugging percentage.
Utility – Rico Carty, Yakima. Carty topped NL batters with a .366 average and .454 OBP in 1970 with Atlanta. He hit 25 home runs and totaled 101 RBIs.
Left-handed starting pitcher – Claude Osteen, Wenatchee/Seattle. Osteen, a clever southpaw, had a 20-11 record and 2.64 ERA with the 1972 Dodgers. He completed 14 of 33 starts.
Right-handed starting pitcher – Juan Marichal, Tacoma. The Hall of Famer went 25-6 with a 2.23 ERA for San Francisco in 1966. He completed 25 of 36 starts and gave up just 228 hits and 36 walks – with 222 strikeouts – in 307.1 innings
Bullpen closer – Rafael Soriano, Everett/Tacoma. The hard-throwing right-hander led the American League with 45 saves for Tampa Bay in 2010. He had a stingy .082 WHIP and 1.73 ERA with just 36 hits allowed in 62.1 innings spread over 64 games.
Set-up reliever – Mark Lowe, Everett/Tacoma. Lowe was unhittable at times with the Mariners last season, when he chalked up a 1.00 ERA in 34 games. He struck out 47 in 36 innings before pennant-seeking Toronto acquired him from the fading Mariners at the trade deadline. He finished 1-3 with a 1.96 ERA in 57 games.
Manager – Bruce Bochy, Spokane. The San Francisco Giants manager has won more games and World Series than Tommy Lasorda, so speculation is high that Bochy will become the third former Spokane manager in the Hall of Fame. Lasorda made it as a manager, Duke Snider as a player. Bochy’s Giants won three World Series from 2010-14.
*Minor leaguers were selected from individuals who played or managed a total of 50 or more games (20 for pitchers) with Washington minor league teams prior to the bulk of their major league careers.
WASHINGTON ALL-NAMES TEAM
Jeffrey “Penitentiary Face” Leonard, Seattle Mariners
Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman, Spokane Indians
Jim “Jungle Jim” Rivera, Seattle Rainiers
Ozzie “The Wizard of Oz” Smith, Walla Walla Padres.
Tim “Big Time Timmy Jim” Lincecum, Liberty High/Washington Huskies
Eric “Crash Test Dummy” Byrnes, Seattle Mariners
Frank “The Capital Punisher” Howard, Spokane Indians (and Washington Senators)
Russell “Russell the Muscle” Branyan, Seattle Mariners
Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, Walla Walla Padres/Spokane Indians
Felix “The Cat” Millan, Yakima Braves
Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson, Seattle Mariners
Jose “Secret Weapon” Oquendo, Grays Harbor Loggers
Dick “Kewpie” Barrett, Seattle Rainiers
Ron “Penguin” Cey, Mt. Tahoma High/Washington State/Tri-City Atoms/Spokane Indians
Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni, Seattle Mariners
Tony “Captain Video” Gwynn, Walla Walla Padres
Mack “Shooty” Babitt, Tacoma Tigers
George “High Pockets” Kelly, Spokane Indians
Rickey “Man of Steal” Henderson, Seattle Mariners
Doug “Eyechart” Gwosdz, Walla Walla Padres
Mark “Humpty Dumpty” Polhemus, Spokane (pre-Indians)
Vince “Vincent Van Go” Coleman, Seattle Mariners
# Major league players only. Primary Washington team(s) listed.
Would love to have seen Omar Vizquel on the team as he is my all-time favorite M’s shortstop, but A-Rod has those ungodly (perhaps obscenely unnatural too) statistics that are hard to ignore, even if you don’t believe them as “real”.
Good point. Most entertaining fielder, more than Griffey.
IIRC, Vizquel was a below-average hitter during his Seattle spell. It wasn’t until he went to Cleveland before he developed a bat. If he hit well with the Mariners, we’d have a fun “who’s better” debate.