Florida Marlins: All Time Greatest Players, Part Three of 10
The Florida Marlins have been around for 19 seasons, and in two postseason appearances have taken home two World Series titles. Quite a return for such a fledgling club.
On June 10, 1991, the National League awarded a Miami-based franchise to Wayne Huizenga.
After four sub-.500 seasons, the Marlins advanced to the postseason for the first time in 1997 as the NL Wild Card. They took care of the NL West's best by beating the San Fransisco Giants, and then moved on to defeat the NL East by defeating the Atlanta Braves, before finally dispatching the Cleveland Indians in seven games to take home their first World Series Championship.
This was followed by a fire sale, with Huizenga unloading all of his high-priced talent—including such dignitaries as Mike Piazza, Kevin Brown, and Gary Sheffield. The Marlins posted losing records in each of the next five seasons.
But in 2003, the Marlins had reemerged as a genuine postseason contender, profiting from talented youngsters such as pitching ace Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis, the latter whom had rocketed into the national discussion after earning a call up from Triple-A in the summer.
It was only the second time the franchise had made the playoffs, and they did it again as the Wild Card.
They faced the Giants once more in the NLDS, with the same end result as '97.
The Chicago Cubs were up next—just five outs away from a World Series berth in Game Six, until Steve Bartman's ill-fated lunge for a stray foul ball interfered with Cubs right fielder Moises Alou, who could have recorded the second out in the eighth inning of what was then a 3-0 game.
The ensuing script became a nightmare for Cubs fans—the Marlins came back to win Game Six and took Game Seven as well.
Then, the Marlins put away the New York Yankees in six games in the World Series on the backs of a superb series from ace Beckett, who earned series MVP honors after posting a complete-game shut out in the decisive Game Six.
In the eight seasons since, the Marlins have posted four winning records and four losing records, failing to return to the postseason.
As the Marlins prepare to be rechristened as the Miami Marlins, and move into their new home at the sparkling Miami Ballpark, lets take a look back at the players who have stood out for the team. Of the 406 players who have laced up their cleats for the Marlins, these 50 stand out.
This list was compiled from data culled from www.baseball-reference.com, namely the "Wins Above Replacement" statistic.
40. Jeremy Hermida (2005-2009, WAR: 3.5)
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Hermida, a right fielder, was selected by the Marlins in the first round of the 2002 amateur draft. He made his first appearance with the club in 2005, hitting .293 with four home runs in 23 games.
2007 was Hermida's best season with the club, as he set career highs with a .296 batting average, 18 home runs and 63 RBI.
He totalled 57 home runs and 210 RBI's in 516 games for Florida, averaging .265 over his five seasons.
39. Carlos Delgado (2005, WAR: 3.5)
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Delgado signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988, and made his Major League debut in 1993. The sweet-swinging slugger would spend his first 12 seasons in the pros with Toronto.
He closed out his career with the New York Mets for four seasons starting in 2006. For one season only he called himself a Florida Marlin.
Delgado arrived in Florida before the 2005 season, having signed a free agent contract with the club.
In 144 games that season, Delgado hit .301 with 33 home runs, good for ninth-best in the NL. He also had 115 RBI, which placed him fifth in the league. His OBP of .399 was the league's third best.
Delgado finished '05 having caught the eye of NL MVP voters, who named him sixth in the final count.
38. Moises Alou (1997, WAR: 3.5)
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Alou, an outfielder, was initially selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the second pick in the 1986 amateur draft.
Alou is one of very few players who bat without the aid of batting gloves, instead preferring to urinate on his hands during the season to "toughen them up."
He is a member of one of the most prolific baseball families. His father Felipe, cousin Mel Rojas, and uncles Jesus and Matty all enjoyed long careers in Major League baseball.
After appearing in two games for the Pirates in 1990, Alou was traded to the Montreal Expos, with whom he would spend the next five and a half seasons. He joined the Marlins in 1997, just in time for their championship run.
He earned All-Star honors in his single season with Florida, hitting .292 with 23 home runs and 115 RBI, good for ninth-most in the NL. He also won the Babe Ruth Award, which is given annually to the World Series MVP by the NY area BBWAA chapter..
Alou later went on to play for the Houston Astros, the Chicago Cubs, the San Fransisco Giants and the New York Mets.
37. Al Leiter (1996-1997, 2005, WAR: 3.8)
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Leiter, a lefty, was selected by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1984 amateur draft.
After pitching in parts of three seasons with the Yankees, Leiter joined the Toronto Blue Jays.
Injuries limited him to 15.2 innings over the next four seasons with the club. He would go on to make 82 starts for the Jays from 1993 through 1995.
In 1996, Leiter joined the Marlins. He pitched his way onto the All-Star roster on the back of a 16-12 record with a 2.93 ERA and 200 strikeouts, leading the league with 6.4 hits allowed per nine innings.
His no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies on May 11 was the first in Marlins history.
Leiter was also an integral part of the Marlins' first World Series title, helping them on the push to the '97 playoffs with an 11-9 record.
The lefty would go on to find success with the New York Mets before rejoining the Marlins for a spell in 2005. He would finish his career with the Yankees.
He totalled a 30-28 record for Florida with a 4.07 ERA, allowing 7.5 hits per nine innings for the franchise.
Leiter currently works as a studio analyst and color commentator for the YES Network, the MLB Network, and FOX.
36. Livan Hernandez (1996-1999, WAR: 3.8)
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After defecting from Cuba, Hernandez signed an amateur free agent contract with Florida in 1996.
In Hernandez's official rookie season of 1997, he logged a 9-3 record with a 3.18 ERA. Those numbers were good enough to see him finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting, after only allowing 7.6 hits per nine innings. He took home both the NLCS MVP Award and the World Series MVP award, compiling a 4-0 postseason record that year.
Hernandez remained a fixture in the Marlins starting rotation until halfway through the 1999 season, when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Nate Bump and Jason Grilli.
He also has played for the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Minnesota Twins, the Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. He rejoined the Nationals midway through the 2009 season, and is currently on the roster.
For Florida, Hernandez collected a 24-24 record and a 4.39 ERA in 71 games.
Check back tomorrow for Part Four of the All-Time top Marlins.