"What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year! He's got a rocket for an arm... You don't know what the hell you're doing!"Jay Buhner (47 years old today) was traded by the New York Yankees to the Seattle Mariners in July of 1988 for Ken Phelps and Frank Costanza (quote above) doesn't like it. Buhner actually started with the Pirates but was quickly shipped to the Yankees after one only season as part of a Major League trade. Buhner's early minor league statistics showed him to be a good hitter with a propensity to get on base and of course, a rocket for an arm. It wasn't until 1987 at AAA that he showed his power, hitting 31 homers and earning himself a callup. In his first major league game with the Yankees, he batted 6th and went 0/4 with an RBI. Ironically, he did not strike out, something he would do almost once a game throughout his career.
"He's the real thing. What he's got is pure instinct. You can refine it but you can't bestow it on someone. It has to be there from the start. He's young and he's going to make mistakes but when he's done developing, which he will because he's going to get every chance with the Mariners, he has the makings of greatness." - Jim Snyder, Mariners ManagerWhatever the Mariners saw, the Yankees didn't, or saw more in Ken Phelps, whom they added to their roster as the missing left-handed power bat that they were missing for their stretch run. It was a deadline deal and these things happen. At the time, Phelps was an extreme power hitter who walked a lot and in all fairness, he did hit 10 homers in 107 at bats.
Snyder's clairvoyance came to fruition in 1991 when Buhner's power became a staple in the Mariners lineup after bouncing between the Mariners and Calgary a few times. He hit 27 homers and drove in 77 and from that point on, along with Ken Griffey Jr and Edgar Martinez, would form the nucleus of a resurgent Mariners franchise that would eventually, in 1995, make it to the playoffs for the first time in their existance.
He would spend the next ten year in Seattle, hitting 40 homers 3 times, driving in 138,121,109 and becoming a force in right field where he won a gold glove in 1996. He was a solid playoff performer with the Mariners in 4 post-seasons, batting .306 and hitting 8 homers in 86 at bats. He played in the 1996 all-star game and he would also garner voting for AL MVP in 1995,1996 and 1997.
Buhner retired after the 2001 season, one in which the Mariners would go 116-46. He didn't play a lot during the season and was a bit-player in the playoffs but he was there for one last hurrah. Though his number has not been retired, no other Mariner has worn his #19 since 2001.
He ended his career with 310 homers and an OPS of 853. Perhaps the most interesting stat that Buhner produced was his 6 stolen bases in 30 attempts.