Florida Marlins: All Time Greatest Players, Part Six of Ten
The Florida Marlins have been around for 19 seasons, and in two postseason appearances have taken home two World Series titles.
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 by beating the San Fransisco Giants and the NL East by beating the Atlanta Braves, before 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. The Marlins posted losing records in each of the next five seasons.
In 2003, the Marlins returned to the postseason for the second time, again as the NL wild card. They again beat the San Fransisco Giants in the NLDS. The Chicago Cubs were five outs away from a World Series berth when the Marlins came back to win games six and seven. The Marlins put away the New York Yankees in six games, again winning the World Series.
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 Miami Ballpark, let's 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 fifty stand out.
This list was compiled from data culled from www.baseball-reference.com, namely the "Wins Above Replacement" statistic.
25. Robb Nen (1993-1997, WAR: 5.2)
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Nen is one of only 23 Major League pitchers to collect over 300 career saves. He retired in 2004 as the career saves leader for both Florida and San Francisco. He was known for his unorthodox pitching delivery in which he tapped his left toe before starting the windup.
Originally drafted in the 23rd round by the Texas Rangers in 1987 amateur draft, Nen made his debut with the club in 1993. After posting a 6.35 ERA over nine games for Texas, the team traded him to Florida before the end of the season.
Midway through June of 1994, Nen was anointed as the Marlins primary closer. He collected 108 saves with the Marlins through 1997, posting a 20-16 record and a 3.41 ERA and striking out 328 in 314 innings pitched.
Nen went on to save 206 games for the Giants, and is currently still with the team as a Major and Minor League instructor.
24. Mark Kotsay (1997-2000, WAR: 6.1)
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Kotsay was drafted by Florida in the first round of the 1996 draft out of Cal State Fullerton. He was also known as "the Human Toaster," for his ability to "toast" runners out at the plate.
In each of his three full seasons with the Marlins, Kotsay led the National League in outfield assists. He hit .280 with 31 home runs and 179 RBI and 39 stolen bases during his tenure with the Fish.
23. Josh Willingham (2004-2008, WAR: 6.3)
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Willingham was selected by Florida in the 17th round of the 2000 amateur draft by Florida.
He made his first appearance with the club in 2004, and in 2006 became the Marlins everyday left fielder.
For three seasons, the right-hander filled the slot. He collected 63 home runs and 219 RBI while hitting .266.
Willingham played two seasons for the Washington Nationals after leaving the Marlins. He spent the 2011 season with the Oakland A's, winning the Catfish Hunter award, which honors the A's player whose play on the field and conduct in the clubhouse best exemplifies the courageous, competitive and inspirational spirit demonstrated by the late Hall of Fame pitcher.
22. Cody Ross (2006-2010, WAR: 7.2)
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The Detroit Tigers drafted Ross in the fourth round of the 1999 draft. After appearing in six games for the Tigers in 2003, Ross didn't again play in the Majors until 2005.
Early in life, Ross decided he wanted to be a rodeo clown, adjusting his plans when his superior baseball skills became apparent.
Ross played all three outfield positions for the Marlins, hitting .265 over five seasons with Florida. He clubbed 80 home runs and collected 297 RBI.
He joined the San Francisco Giants midway through the 2010 season, earning the nickname "Ross the Boss" for his hardnosed play.
21. Brad Penny (2000-2004, WAR: 7.2)
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Penny was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 1996 draft. After a trade, Penny made his Major League debut with the Marlins in 2000, posting an 8-7 record and a 4.81 ERA.
Penny held down his slot in the order for five seasons in Florida, accumulating 48 wins and 42 losses, along with a 4.07 ERA.
Penny struck out more than twice as many batters as he walked, demonstrating control and occasional power.
He posted a 3-1 postseason record for the Fish on their way to the 2003 World Series Championship.
Penny has gone on to play for the Dodgers, the Red Sox, the Giants, the Cardinals and is currently a member of the Detroit Tigers.
Check back tomorrow for part seven in the series of the greatest all-time Marlins.