Since everyone else has been posting all decade lists, I thought it would be fun to take a stroll down memory lane and honor the best Florida Marlins of the decade. There really is nothing scientific or definitve about this list. It was just me searching through the 10 years of Marlin statistics on baseball-reference.com and making a judgement as to who the best players were. Anyway, as a quick note: for a player to be eligible for this list, he has to have been on the team for a period longer than one year. The rationale is to keep off the list players who were merely rentals, and I think it would be kinda cheap to just have a bunch of players on the “all-decade” list who were only on the team for one out of the 10 years. So without further ado….
Catcher: Miguel Olivo. This was without a doubt the hardest position to fill. Looking through the past 10 years, the Marlins seem to have a “rent-a-catcher” approach. I-Rod (’03) and Paul Lo Duca (’05) were alright, but only for one year (making them ineligible), and Charles Johnson had one good year and one terrible year. In fact, Olvio, with two serviceable years in 2006 and 07 is the best option. During his tenure with the Fish, he had a .249 avg and 32 total homers. I wondered why no one else posted a list like this for the Marlins. I think this was the reason. It gets better from this, folks, trust me. Honorable mentions: Johnson, me making an eligibility exception for I-Rod.
1st Base: Derrek Lee. Told you it got better. A Marlin from 1998-2003, During the decade he had a .276 avg with the Fish, hit greater than 20 HRs all four years during his Marlin stay in the decade and thanks to healthy walk totals, had an OPS+ of 125 during those 4 years. For all of that, he was a great defender as well. Interestingly, he was never an all-star during his Marlin tenure. Oh well. He would be legitimately on the “all-decade” list for a lot of teams, but he is especially aided by the fact that the Marlins haven’t really had anyone else after him. I mean, you didn’t expect to see Hee Seop Choi on the list, did you? Honorable mention: Jeff Conine for sentimentality sake.
2nd Base: Luis Castillo. This one was tough, between Castillo and Dan Uggla. What made it tough was the fact that they are such different ball players. Castillo was the better small ball player (From 2000-05, Castillo has a .378 OBP and averaged about 35 steals per game) and was a three time gold glove winner, while Uggla was the better power hitter (From 2006-09, Uggla averaged a bit more than 30 HRs a year as a second baseman). They both were all stars. I gave Castillo the edge because he was here longer and was the starter on a World Series winning team. Honorable mention: Uggla.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez. Duh. From 2006-09, he has shown there is nothing he can not do. Rookie of the Year, batting champion, power hitter, base stealer. He is the best shortstop in the game right now. And the cherry on top: the Marlins even signed him to a long term deal. That is impressive in and of itself. He even has taken strides to improve his defense. The future looks bright in large part because of Ramirez. Honorable mention: Alex Gonzalez, the solid, but unspectacular SS from 2000-05.
3rd Base: Mike Lowell. Even before 2003, he was a good ball player. He had an OPS+ greater than 100 every year from 2000 to 2004. During those 5 years, he averaged about 25 HRs, batted .280, and was a three time all-star. His fabulous 2003 season is remarkable. His 2005 season was marred by injury. But even so, the Marlins were able to trade him away to the Red Sox and still get Ramirez (see above). Honorable mention: Jorge Cantu.
OF (1): Miguel Cabrera. Yes, this is going to include Cabrera’s time as a third baseman, but both he and Lowell should be on the list, so I’ll include all his stats as if he played in the OF the entire time (and trying to bifurcate his stats accurately would want me to pull my hair out). And what stats they were! From the time he burst onto the scene as a 20 year old in 2003, he was nothing but awesome in a Marlin uniform. 138 HRs in 5 years, greater than 110 RBI in his four full years in Florida, and he even batted great than .320 three years in a row, from 2005-07.
OF (2): Cliff Floyd. Remember Floyd? He played on the team from ’07 to ’02. Only ’00-’02 will be considered for this list. During that time, he was nothing short of impressive. During his two and a half years in this decade with the Fish, he hit for power (hitting 22 HR in ’00, 31 in ’01, and 18 in a half season in ’02), and average (he hit better than .300 during that span). He even stole 24 bases in 2000 for good measure. It’s a shame injuries derailed his career, but he was successful when he was out on the field. The Marlins have a mess of outfielders who had a good couple of years on the team, so while Floyd may be an esoteric choice, he was better than any of the other guys.
OF (3): Juan Pierre. Another tough choice for the team. Pierre did some things really well. He was a good contact hitter and an amazing base stealer during his tenure with the Marlins. But, he also did some things especially poorly, like walk and hit for power. Ultimately, the 2003 World Series team was built around the speed of him and Castillo at the top of the line up. He led the league in steals in 2003 and also hits in 2004. So, his selection is not without merits, and the other guys are not without faults of their own. Honorable mentions for all outfield spots: Josh Willingham, a good power hitter from the post-WS period, Preston Wilson, the power hitter Pierre was traded straight up for, and Cody Ross, a balanced power hitter on the current team.
Some time next week, whenever I get some time (probably next Saturday), I’ll post my opinions on the pitchers of the decade.
I'm very much interested in what you all have to say on the matter. Did I leave off your favorite player? Feel free to say hateful things about me. Remember, my goal is just to start some chatter!
PS: how often do you get to use bifurcate casually in a sentence?