Best Seattle Mariners Catchers in Team History [All-Time List!]

The Seattle Mariners have had a number of talented catchers appear on the roster at one time or another. 

This article focuses on these players, as we showcase the best Seattle Mariners catchers in team history based on career and single-season wins above replacement (WAR).

Keep scrolling to find out more…

Best Seattle Mariners Catchers of all time

Background on the Mariners

The Seattle Mariners got their start alongside the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1977 MLB expansion.  

Since that time, the Mariners have had a number of memorable players on their roster, from superstars like Ken Griffey Jr. to fan favorites like Jay Buhner.

ken griffey jr. home run

The sweetest swing you've ever seen [Image source: Baseball Hall of Fame]

A variety of talented catchers have also spent time with the Mariners over the years. This article highlights these catchers in greater detail, as we focus on Seattle's best backstops since the inaugural 1977 season.

Wins Above Replacement (WAR)

Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, is a baseball statistic used to measure the overall value and degree of contribution that an MLB player makes to his team.

If interested in learning more about this topic, we would recommend this write-up

In our humble opinion, WAR is the best single statistic out there to understand a player's comprehensive value. 

So for this article, we went back and looked at each catcher to have played for the Seattle Mariners since 1977 and ranked them by WAR (using the Fangraphs calculation, or fWAR).  

What follows is an overview of the top three Seattle Mariners catchers in franchise history based on career WAR, and then a summary of the top three seasons by Mariners catchers based on single-season WAR.

Top 3 Mariners Catchers by Career WAR

Please note: A catcher must have at least 100 defensive games played as a member of the Mariners to be eligible for our career WAR list.

#1. Mike Zunino, 18.5 career WAR (through 2021)

Mike Zunino seattle catcher

[Image source: Ken Lambert, Seattle Times]

The best catcher in Seattle Mariners history, according to WAR, is Mike Zunino. 

Seattle's first pick (third overall) in the 2012 MLB draft, Zunino made his big league debut just a year later. Through the 2021 season, Zunino has played nine years in the majors, six years of which were spent with the Mariners and three years with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The University of Florida product has a career slash line of .202./.274/.415 with 141 home runs and 345 RBIs. The one-time all star has a .995 fielding percentage behind the dish and a career caught stealing percentage, or CS%, of 28%. 

#2. Dan Wilson, 13.9 career WAR

dan wilson one of the best mariners catchers ever

[Image source: Otto Greule Jr, Getty Images]

Although he made his big league debut with the Cincinnati Reds, Dan Wilson spent the vast majority of his 14 year MLB career with the Seattle Mariners. 

The one-time all star hit .262 over his career with 1,097 hits, 88 home runs and 519 RBIs. 

Wilson appeared in 1,281 defensive games behind the plate. In 8,624 chances, he maintained a .995 fielding percentage and he gunned down 314 (33%) runners attempting to steal.

#3. Dave Valle, 11.5 career WAR

dave valle at bat

[Image source: Getty Images]

Dave Valle was the Mariners' second round pick in 1978. He went on to spend 13 years in the majors, ten of which were in Seattle (1984 - 1993).

Over his career, he hit .237/.314/.373 with 658 hits, 77 home runs, and 350 RBIs. 

Valle caught a total of 7,001 big league innings. He had a .992 fielding percentage as a catcher and a 36% CS%, which is three percentage points higher than the league average during this span.

Top 3 Seasons by Mariners Catchers, Ranked by WAR

Please note: The catcher must have at least 70 defensive games played in one season as a member of the Mariners to be eligible for the single-season WAR list.

#1. 2017 - Mike Zunino (4.6 WAR)

Mike Zunino throwing in 2017

Zunino during a 2017 game at Yankee Stadium [Image source: Getty Images]

In 2017, Mike Zunino had one of his best seasons of his career so far. 

He reached a number of career highs that season, including hits (97), doubles (25), RBIs (64), batting average (.251), total bases (197) and more.

Defensively, Zunino had a .993 fielding percentage behind the plate with 957 chances, and his CS% was 24%. He finished among the top 5 in AL catchers in 2017 in defensive games (120), putouts (894), assists (56) and double plays turned (5).. 

#2. 2014 - Mike Zunino (3.8 WAR)

Mike Zunino 2014

Zunino and former M's Manager Lloyd McClendon in 2014 [Image source: Getty Images]

The second best season in Zunino's Seattle career came in 2014, which was his first full season in the majors. 

In a career high 131 games that season, Zunino hit just .199 but slugged 22 home runs and 60 RBIs. Of note, the 17 times he was hit by a pitch in 2014 led the AL. 

Defensively that season, Zunino caught 1,121 innings and kept a .995 fielding percentage. His 28% CS% was higher than the league average, and he led all AL catchers in assists (84) that year.

#3. (tied) 1996 - Dan Wilson (3.5 WAR) AND 1997 - Dan Wilson (3.5 WAR)

Dan Wilson in 1996

Wilson before a game in 1996 [Image source: Getty Images]

The best year of Dan Wilson's career came in 1996. 

Wilson made the AL all star team that year, and he had career highs in hits (140), home runs (18), RBIs (83), slugging percentage (.444), and more.

Behind the plate, Wilson had a .996 fielding percentage and a 39% CS% in '96.

Dan Wilson at bat in 1997

Dan Wilson at-bat at Camden Yards, during a 1997 game [Image source: Getty Images]

Wilson matched his 1996 WAR of 3.5 the very next season. In 1997, he helped lead the Mariners to a first place finish in the AL West.

That season, Wilson hit .270/.326/.423 with a career high 31 doubles, 15 home runs and 75 RBIs.

From a defensive perspective, Wilson had a .995 fielding percentage in '97 and he led league catchers in runners caught stealing (56/43%), putouts (1,051), and double plays turned (13).

List of All Mariners Catchers With a 2.0+ WAR Season

Earning a single-season WAR that is 2.0 or higher reflects a productive year for many MLB catchers. A handful of Seattle Mariners catchers have either met or exceeded this number since the team first began playing back in 1977.

Check out the table below which shows every Mariners catcher who has had a 2.0+ WAR season.

SeasonNameWAR
2017Mike Zunino4.6
2014Mike Zunino3.8
1997Dan Wilson3.5
1996Dan Wilson3.5
1993Dave Valle3.3
2019Tom Murphy3.2
1978Bob Stinson2.9
2006Kenji Johjima2.8
1995Dan Wilson2.6
2007Kenji Johjima2.5
1989Dave Valle2.2
2001Dan Wilson2.2
2018Mike Zunino2.1
2012John Jaso2

Mariners Catchers over the Last 10 Years

Please note: catchers in the below list are ordered based on the number of games caught that season for the Mariners. Catchers with the most games caught per season start at the top. 

2012 Mariners - Finished fourth in AL West

  • Miguel Olivo (primary)
  • Jesus Montero
  • John Jaso

 

2013 Mariners - Finished fourth in AL West

  • Mike Zunino (primary)
  • Kelly Shoppach
  • Henry Blanco
  • Jesus Montero
  • Humberto Quintero
  • Jesus Sucre
  • Brandon Bantz

 

2014 Mariners - Finished third in AL West 

  • Mike Zunino (primary)
  • Jesus Sucre
  • John Buck
  • Humberto Quintero

 

2015 Mariners - Finished fourth in AL West

  • Mike Zunino (primary)
  • Jesus Sucre
  • John Hicks
  • Welington Castillo
  • Steven Baron

 

2016 Mariners - Finished second in AL West

  • Chris Iannetta (primary)
  • Mike Zunino
  • Steve Clevenger
  • Jesus Sucre

 

2017 Mariners - Finished third in AL West

  • Mike Zunino (primary)
  • Carlos Ruiz
  • Tuffy Gosewisch
  • Mike Marjama

 

2018 Mariners - Finished third in AL West

  • Mike Zunino (primary)
  • David Freitas
  • Chris Herrmann
  • Mike Marjama

 

2019 Mariners - Finished fifth in AL West

  • Omar Narvaez (primary)
  • Tom Murphy
  • Austin Nola
  • David Freitas

 

2020 Mariners - Finished third in AL West

  • Austin Nola (primary)
  • Joseph Odom
  • Luis Torrens
  • Joe Hudson

 

2021 Mariners - Finished second in AL West

  • Tom Murphy (primary)
  • Cal Raleigh
  • Luis Torrens
  • Jose Godoy

 

Complete List of All Mariners Catchers Over the Last 10 Years

The following shows every Seattle Mariners catcher to have appeared in at least one defensive game as a catcher for the team since 2012. 

Players below appear in alphabetical order by their first name.

  • Austin Nola
  • Brandon Bantz
  • Cal Raleigh
  • Carlos Ruiz
  • Chris Herrmann
  • Chris Iannetta
  • David Freitas
  • Henry Blanco
  • Humberto Quintero
  • Jesus Montero
  • Jesus Sucre
  • Joe Hudson
  • John Buck
  • John Hicks
  • John Jaso
  • Jose Godoy
  • Joseph Odom
  • Kelly Shoppach
  • Luis Torrens
  • Miguel Olivo
  • Mike Marjama
  • Mike Zunino
  • Omar Narvaez
  • Steve Clevenger
  • Steven Baron
  • Tom Murphy
  • Tuffy Gosewisch
  • Welington Castillo

 

That’s a Wrap!

We appreciate you stopping by Catchers Home to read this article. Hopefully you found it to be interesting!

We love to hear from readers, so if you have any questions or feedback, please reach out to us. You can leave a message by going to our contact page or by sending an email to scott (at) catchershome (dot) com.

 

Sources for this Article

  • Baseball Reference
  • Fangraphs
  • Retrosheet
  • The Seattle Times