- Jim Caple, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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DETROIT -- The Ex-Cubs Factor is a well-documented aspect of the postseason, hypothesizing that any team with three or more former Cubs players is doomed to lose the World Series. This theory has borne out more times than not.
The current American League Championship Series, however, poses a more complicated element: the Ex-Mariners Factor. There are seven former Mariners playing in the ALCS -- New York's Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez, Rafael Soriano and Derek Lowe; and Detroit's Doug Fister and Ramon Santiago. The Mariners have provided the Yankees with almost as many players as New York's Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre farm team.
With so many former Mariners in the ALCS, Seattle broadcaster Ken Levine says, "I'm rooting for Doug Fister, Ichiro, Raul Ibanez -- they're all great guys. And it's not like they pulled a LeBron James. They were traded or just moved on. As for A-Rod, how do you root for a guy who's taken steroids, plays for the Yankees, and [was involved] with Madonna?''
Should postseason teams dread or welcome the Ex-Mariners Factor? Let's examine the issue, based on the XMF Index, which combines the player's current postseason WAR and the levels of frustration and angst it produces in Seattle fans.
Ibanez is a two-time ex-Mariner whom Seattle let go twice as a free agent (2001 and 2008). Despite being the oldest player in the ALCS, he has been the hero of the postseason -- I believe Yankee Stadium workers began installing a bronze plaque of Ibanez in Monument Park while he was rounding second base during his second game-tying, ninth-inning home run of the postseason in Game 1. XMF Index: 10.3
The Mariners traded Fister to Detroit in a multiplayer deal last year that included Charlie Furbush and the superbly named Casper Charles Wells IV. Fister immediately started winning games due to pitching for a team that actually scored runs. He has allowed just two runs in 13 1/3 innings this postseason. That includes his 6 1/3 scoreless-innings effort in Game 1 against the Yankees that would have gotten him the win had it not been for ex-Mariner Ibanez.XMF Index: 6.5
During his 11-plus seasons in Seattle, Ichiro led the world in hits, Japanese reporters and bobblehead promotions. His recently fading career was rejuvenated when Seattle dealt him to the Yankees in late July for legends Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell. He is hitting .272 with three runs and five RBIs in the postseason, including a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 1. XMF Index: 4.3
Soriano was a promising young pitcher for the Mariners when Seattle wisely chose to trade him for Horacio Ramirez in 2006. Ramirez had a 7.16 ERA for the Mariners before they let him go. Meanwhile, Soriano has 128 saves since then, including 42 for the Yankees this year. He hasn't allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings this postseason. XMF Index: 2.2
The Mariners traded Carlos Guillen to Detroit for Santiago in 2004. Guillen had three All-Star seasons with the Tigers while Santiago played 27 games for Seattle and was released. Santiago re-signed with the Tigers and has spent his past seven seasons in Detroit. He is on the Tigers' roster, but has not played this postseason. XMF Index: 0
Lowe made his major league debut with the Mariners before they traded him and Jason Varitek to the Red Sox in the infamous Heathcliff Slocumb deal, a trade that is still mentioned to frighten young Seattle children around campfires. Lowe, who helped the Red Sox end their World Series drought in 2004, retired the only batter he faced in the division series, then allowed two runs in less than an inning in Game 1 of the ALCS. XMF Index: Negative 1.1
Rodriguez began his career in Seattle, where his most famous postseason contributions were consoling a sobbing Joey Cora in the dugout after Seattle lost the 1995 ALCS, and getting buzzed by a Roger Clemens fastball in the 2000 ALCS. He then apparently signed a large contract to play somewhere else, but I've never seen the dollar figures mentioned. A-Rod is batting .130 with 12 strikeouts and no RBIs this postseason. He also has batted third and sixth in the order, been pinch hit for, and been benched. He did, however, single with two outs in the ninth of Sunday's 3-0 Game 2 shutout. XMF Index: Negative 8.9
So is the Ex-Mariners Factor a plus or a minus? Even with A-Rod's negative rating, the XMF is a clear positive for the Yankees and Tigers, especially when you consider that Ibanez hit one of his game-tying home runs while pinch hitting for Rodriguez.
With five potential games left in the ALCS, it remains to be seen who will be the ultimate winners with the Ex-Mariners Factor. But long-suffering Seattle fans already know who the biggest loser is.