The All-Time Florida Marlins Squad
The Florida Marlins franchise has had its ups and downs since its inception and first season in 1993.
The squad won its first title in 1997 and then again in 2003 in its only two appearances in the playoffs. They also have never won a division title, winning the wild card twice.
The team has been on the verge of contraction a few times, but undeniably this is one of the greatest franchises in terms of bringing up talent, reaching the playoffs and going all the way.
They've done twice in 16 years what many franchises (cough, cough, the Cubs) have failed to do in 100 years and generally without the support of a loyal fan base.
It's hard to find a full section in Miami these days, however that doesn't mean this franchise isn't the least bit successful.
Let's take a look at the All-Time Marlins squad from the very first game to the current 2009 season.
Catcher: Charles Johnson
A Rookie of the Year at the ripe age of 23, Johnson was a staple behind the plate for several seasons. He earned a ring with the squad in 1997 and did another tour of duty with the team in 2001 and 2002.
He also won four gold gloves with the team. He hit a career-high 32 doubles while playing on the Marlins in 2001. He played in 587 games for Florida while batting .241 with 277 RBI.
Johnson was also a two-time All-Star and won four gold gloves while playing with the Marlins.
Honorable mention: Mike Redmond, Paul LoDuca
First Base: Derrek Lee
Although Derrek Lee really has had a long a good career with the Cubs, many forget that he was a staple with the Marlins for a long time as well. He won a ring with the team in 2003 and played with them for six seasons (1998-2003).
His best season with the Marlins was the year they won their second title when he hit 31 homers and knocked in 92. He batted .271 that season and also stole a career-high 21 bases. That season also saw him earn his first gold glove.
Lee was one of the prospects brought in when veterans Robb Nen and others were shipped out and he helped pave the way to another championship.
Honorable mention: Mike Jacobs, Jeff Conine
Second Base: Luis Castillo
One of the longest-tenured Marlins in its history, Castillo started playing with the Marlins as a rookie in 1996 and left in 2005 after winning two World Series rings and playing in over 1,000 games for the franchise.
He was a three-time All-Star and he also won three gold gloves while manning second base for the Marlins. He led the Marlins and the NL in steals twice including stealing a career-high 62 bags in 2000.
In his 10-year career with Florida, Castillo had 1,273 hits, 281 steals, 675 runs and batted .293. He is arguably one of the greatest players in Marlins franchise history.
Honorable mention: Dan Uggla, Craig Counsell
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
This one was actually a little closer than I initially expected.
Hanley Ramirez is one of the greatest talents in the game today and has held down the position ever since he played 158 games his rookie season and won Rookie of the Year honors.
However, Alex Gonzalez played the same position for many years forming a double-play duo with Castillo. Gonzalez played eight seasons with the Marlins, but never had the offensive impact Hanley has right now.
Ramirez was an All-Star starter this season and led the league in runs scored in 2008 with 125. He currently sports the leagues best average this season and is the face of the franchise presently and for the future.
He'll no doubt be one of the best shortstops ever the way he's career is headed.
Honorable mention: Alex Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria
Third Base: Mike Lowell
Like several on this list, Lowell had a long tenure with the Marlins which he capped off with a World Series ring. He played with the club from 1999 to 2005.
The three-time All-Star while with the Marlins, Lowell hit a career-high 32 homers in 2003 when Florida won its second World Series. That was also a season he played in just 130 games.
He anchored the hot corner for almost 1,000 (981) games for the Marlins and is arguably one of their most recognized and popular players in history.
He had 143 homers and 578 RBI with the Marlins.
Honorable mention: Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Bonilla
Right Field: Gary Sheffield
Gary Sheffield has some golden years in Miami including 1996 when he smoked 42 home runs, knocked in 120, scored 118 runs, walked 142 times and batted .314. Somehow, he was only able to muster a sixth place finish in the MVP voting, however.
He again was a key component in 1997 when he scored 85 runs and hit 21 homers.
Sheffield was one of the first true stars to play in Florida and was a key part of the championship under manager Jim Leyland.
In his six years in Marlin teal, Sheffield hit 122 homers and batted .288. He walked 424 times against just 290 strikeouts.
This was no competition about who was going to take the right field spot.
Honorable mention: Mark Kotsay, Jeremy Hermida
Center Field: Juan Pierre
Preston Wilson was a worthy opponent—as he had some very good years in south Florida—however I'm giving the nod to Pierre because of his speed, defense, table-setting abilities and one more thing.
He earned a World Series ring in Miami. That seems to be a common theme, doesn't it?
Pierre had some memorable years as a Marlin. He played three seasons with the Fish, and played in all 162 regular season games every single year. Talk about being durable and consistent.
He led the league in plate appearances twice and hits one time in 2004 (221). He also had 65 stolen bases in 2003 when they won the World Series.
His 12 triples led the league in 2004 as well. He even finished in 10th in the MVP voting in 2003.
He only played three seasons with the Marlins, but he made them count.
Honorable mention: Preston Wilson, Devon White
Left Field: Miguel Cabrera
This was perhaps the hardest position to determine but I couldn't possibly leave Miguel Cabrera off the starting team. He was one of the main reasons they won the World Series in 2003 and even though he finished his Marlin career at third base, he played the majority of his time in the outfield.
Fan favorite Jeff Conine and Cliff Floyd easily could have made the starting spot, but Cabrera's sheer prowess put him in front.
Cabrera came up at the age of 20 with the Marlins and helped them by hitting four homers in the post-season in the title run in 2003.
Overall, he played five seasons in Miami hitting 30 home runs three times and knocking in 110 RBI four times. He was a lifetime .313 hitter for the Marlins. He also made the All-Star team four times.
Honorable mention: Cliff Floyd, Jeff Conine
Utility: Jeff Conine
Fan favorite and two-time World Series winner with the Marlins, Jeff Conine finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in the inaugural 1993 season in Miami.
He played in all 162 games that season—the only player to do so for that team—and hit .292 with 12 homers and 79 RBI. He made the All-Star team the next two seasons—in 1994 and 1995—and then was a member on the first WS team.
After stints in Kansas City and Baltimore, Conine returned to the team in 2003 just in time in capture yet another ring. He hit .304 overall in post-season play with the Marlins with a homer and eight RBI.
In his eight seasons with the Fish, he hit .290 with 1,005 hits, 120 homers and 553 RBI.
The fan favorite in his rookie season and then again when he returned in 2003, Conine will forever be etched in the hearts of Marlins fans.
Conine played first base, third base, right field, left field and was also a designated hitter when he played in the American League.
Starting Five: Josh Beckett, Livan Hernandez, Kevin Brown, A.J. Burnett and Dontrelle Willis
The starting five all have something in common, much like the rest of the squad so far: they all have a ring with the Marlins.
Josh Beckett helped lead the team with his performance in the 2003 World Series title over the Yankees. His game six performance is legendary. Drafted by the Marlins, he won 41 games with the team and sported a 3.46 ERA in five seasons.
Burnett also started his career with the Marlins in 1999. He didn't play much of a role in the title run in 2003 because of an injury, but did pitch that season. He had five shutouts in 2002 for the team and earned 49 wins in seven years with Florida.
Livan Hernandez, although just playing four seasons with the team, keyed the 1997 World Series run as he had two wins in the deciding series against the Cleveland Indians. He was 9-3 in 1997 for the team and was 24-24 overall in four years. His play in the World Series alone puts him in the starting five.
Like Hernandez, Kevin Brown played only two seasons with the Marlins but he made them count. He won 33 games in those two seasons and also was a key starter in 1997. He finished second in the Cy Young Award voting in 1996 as he had a 1.89 ERA that season with 17 wins.
Dontrelle Willis won the Rookie of the Year voting in 2003 for the Marlins and also earned himself a World Series ring. He pitched in relief against the Yankees, however he was integral all season for the Marlins. Willis won 22 games in 2005 and had five shutouts in taking second in the Cy Young voting. Overall, he had 68 wins for the Marlins. He made the All-Star team twice.
It was hard to emit the following pitchers below. I chiefly went with the five above because of the individual seasons they had and because of their mark they made in the post-season (Hernandez and Beckett, for example).
The Marlins have had several good young arms and that hasn't changed throughout the franchises history. They way they are pitching in 2009, several new names could push the five above for a spot.
Honorable mention: Pat Rapp, Al Leiter, Alex Fernandez, Brad Penny and Josh Johnson
Relief Pitchers: Robb Nen, Antonio Alfonseca, Braden Looper, Armando Benitez, Ugueth Urbina and Bryan Harvey
The relief corp for the Marlins features closers and a lot of them. Almost the entire list is comprised of closers or relief pitchers that turned into closers. Robb Nen headlines the list and Ugueth Urbina makes the cut even though he spend less than half a season with the Fish.
Robb Nen easily makes the cut because he was the closer when the Marlins captured their first title. He saved 108 games total for Florida and 35 in 1997 when they won the title. He had two saves against the Indians in the World Series that year. He went on to have several more successful seasons in San Francisco, but it was all started with the Marlins.
Antonio Alfonseca makes the list began his career with the Marlins in 1997 and ended it just before the next Marlins title—in 2001. He led the league in 2000 with 45 saves for the Marlins and finished with 102 saves for the team, overall.
Braden Looper may be a starter for the Brewers now, but he was a valuable reliever for Florida for five years. He saved 28 games in the title season of 2003 and had 46 overall in his stay in Florida. He was 2-0 pitching in relief in the World Series in 2003 and had a 3.69 ERA in his career in a Marlins uniform.
Armando Benitez makes the cut here even though his stay was brief in Florida. He played just the 2004 season in Miami, but what a season it was. In the All-Star year, he went 2-2 and led the league with 47 saves and also had a minuscule 1.29 ERA. It was arguably the best season of his solid career.
Ugueth Urbina came over to the Marlins in a deadline deal in 2003 to bolster the bullpen. He went 3-0 and saved six games down the stretch in helping the team win the wild card. He then matched that in the post-season by saving six games including two in the series against the Yankees. He barely used his locker in Miami, but he was a valuable addition to the team and rightfully earned a ring with the team.
Bryan Harvey. The last name may have many saying, "Who?" Harvey, a closer with the Angels for a few years, was the first true closer for the Marlins as he saved 45 games (with a 1.70 ERA) in the Marlins inaugural season (not bad). He fizzled out after that and only pitched in 13 games the rest of his career after the 45-save season, but that one season was a memorable one and perhaps his great season paved the way for other closers like Robb Nen.
There have been some nice arms in the pen in the brief history of the Marlins. Nen, Alfonseca, Urbina and others certainly won't be forgotten (or will) anytime soon.
Honorable mention: Jay Powell, Vladimir Nunez, Kevin Gregg, Todd Jones, Joe Borowski and Matt Lindstrom
Manager: Jack McKeon
Jack McKeon wins here over Leyland because of the way he won the World Series. He faced the vaunted Yankees and actually didn't even begin the 2003 season as the team's manager.
McKeon took over about 40 games in and drove the team to a 75-49 finish. He inspired the team and used the young talent wisely, leading the squad to the unlikely second title.
He got the most out of his players and just about everyone in baseball was happy to see McKeon get a ring as manager of a team.
McKeon never had a losing season as manager of the Marlins, going 83-79 in his next two seasons with the team before he retired.
Honorable mention: Jim Leyland, Fredi Gonzalez