|Darrell Johnson managed the expansion Mariners in 1977, the team having selected Ruppert Jones first in the draft. The next several years were spent swapping managers and trying new strategies.
The team was built around pitching and then defense and then speed, and then power. Finally the mid-1980's brought some talented young players: Alvin Davis, Mark Langston, Matt Young, Harold Reynolds, Phil Bradley, and Spike Owen. But winning seasons didn't follow.
Finally in 1991 Jim Lefebvre guided Reynolds, Davis, Pete O'Brien, and youngsters Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jay Buhner, and Randy Johnson to 83 wins and the franchise's first winning record. After taking a few steps back, Lou Piniella arrived in 1993 and by 1995 the M's were in the post-season for the first time. Martinez, Griffey, Johnson, Tino Martinez, Buhner, and Joey Cora made up the ehart of that '95 team that beat the Yankees in the divisional playoffs.
Another division title in 1997 resulted in a first round exit. By 1999 the team was struggling to put together a pitching staff compliment Griffey, Jr, Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, and Buhner. The lack of progress frustrated their stars and finally Johnson and Griffey were dealt before they could leave via the free agent route.
The 2000 season was the first in the post-Junior Griffey era. Surprisingly, the M's made it back to the post-season, earning the wild card spot. In the ALDS they upset the White Sox and again faced the Yankees. The Bombers disposed of the M's, who entered 2001 without their star shortstop, Rodriguez. No one could have imagined that Seattle would improve so much without A-Rod. In 2001 the team started winning early and never slowed down. By May the AL West race was over and the question was not would Seattle win, it was how much would they win?
The M's rode to an AL-record 116 wins, winning several games in the last two weeks to tie the ML record held by the 1906 Cubs. Team leaders were Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer, Edgar Martinez, Mark McLemore, and Mike Cameron.
The sensation of the 2001 team was rookie Ichiro Suzuki, who quickly earned single-name (Ichiro!) status. A seven-time batting champion in Japan, Ichiro piled up hits, breaking the rookie record held by Joe Jackson. He won the AL batting title and ignited the M's offense at the top of the lineup. The left-handed batter also led the loop in stolen bases.
The positives of the 2001 season are hard to ignore. The team proved for the second straight year that they could overcome the loss of a superstar. Prospects for 2002 are good, but the team will have to watch for Oakland, who also won 100 games in '01.
In 2004 the Seattle Mariners finished in last place in the Amerian League West Division with a 63-99 record.
In 2006 the Seattle Mariners finished in last place with a 78-84 record.