Last week, the readership induced Derrek Lee as the Fish Stripes All-Time Florida Marlins Team first baseman. It was a great choice and I trust the readership will make some interesting choices this week as well. Today, we introduce the names up for election for second base for the All-Time Florida Marlins team.
In this case, we will do things a bit differently. In the past two positions, a number of players have logged plate appearances and votes for the Marlins. However, in the case of second base, only two players really stand out with significant playing time at second base for the team. Outside of these two players, the remaining eight players who have logged at least half of their time at second for the Marlins have totaled only 3223 PA combined, which is less than either of the two big second basemen of the team's history. So with all due respect to the likes of Bret Barberie, Craig Counsell, Quilvio Veras, and Omar Infante, there are really only two names that Marlins fans want to vote for in this running.
Luis Castillo is known in Marlins fanhood for his long stint with the Fish; he is the longest tenured Marlin in franchise history, having recorded almost 5000 PA with the Fish. Castillo had more than 900 PA more than the next closest Fish. He spent parts of 1996 through 1998 with the big-league club before finally becoming a full-time player in 1999, and he remained a full-time starter until his final season in 2005.
But let it be known that while Castillo's first edge is in how long he remained a Marlin, it certainly was not his last edge. His career .293/.370/.356 line with the Fish was nothing to scoff at; despite having only hit 20 home runs with the Marlins, Castillo still managed to be a perfectly average offensive player for the team, recording a 100 wRC+ for his career and pulling off six seasons of above-average offensive performance by wRC+ in the seven years he spent as the team's full-time starter.
What Castillo was perhaps best known for was his speed, as he stole 281 bases in his Marlins career. However, Castillo was surprisingly not a great baserunner even in his Marlins heyday. He was successful in only 71 percent of his steal attempts, and he only managed to be 12 runs above average on the bases (including steals and extra bases taken) throughout his Marlins career. To put that in persepctive, Michael Bourn has been 31 runs better than average on the bases since he began his career, and he has hit in just a bit more than half the number of PA Castillo acquired in his Marlins career.
Where Castillo was best on offense was at the plate with his supreme discipline. Castillo struck out in only 12.7 percent of plate appearances with the Marlins. He combined that supreme contact skill with an equally impressive eye, as he drew walks in 10.7 percent of plate appearances. In truth, it was well known that Castillo was simply extremely patient and did not swing until it was absolutely necessary, but his contact capability allowed for himt o play a highly patient approach and still avoid strikeouts.
Of course, no one can discuss Castillo without a mention of his defense. The second baseman won three straight Gold Gloves at second base from 2003 to 2005, and according to the defensive metrics, he was deserving of the awards. TotalZone rated him as 42 runs better than average during that time, while UZR had him at 30 runs above average.
Castillo's Marlins resume is jam-packed. He earned three deserving Gold Gloves. He was a prototypical leadoff man in terms of contact, discipline, and speed. He owns the aspect of longevity with the Marlins. And to top it all off, he owns a World Series ring for being the starter in 2003.
In many ways, Dan Uggla was the antithesis of Luis Castillo. Castillo was flashy with the glove, while Uggla was at best mediocre on defense. Castillo was adept at contact, while Uggla struck out at a very high rate at the start of his career, though that began to fall as the years passed. Castillo was popless at the plate, while Uggla had more than his share of power. That makes comparing the two in terms of value especially interesting.
Uggla's career with the Marlins was contentious in that there was always a subset of fans that disliked him. Sure, it was fun to yell "HIS NAME IS DAN UGGLA" with Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton, but a lot of fans simply did not appreciate his style of gameplay. It had the home runs, but because of the high strikeout rate (22.5 percent career as a Marlin), fans despised him and his low batting average. The truth is that with Uggla's walk rate (10.8 percent career as a Marlin), even his low batting average seasons never ended up hurting him. He never posted an OBP below .326 in his Marlins career, and his power more than aided in his career 117 wRC+ as a Fish.
If Uggla had a calling card though, it certainly would not be his walks. No, Uggla was known for his bombs, as evidenced by the fact that he remains the career Marlins home run leader, having surpassed Mike Lowell in his final season as a Fish in 2010. Uggla's 154 homers in 3372 PA ranks second among Fish with at least home runs in terms of rate as well; his rate of 27.4 home runs per 600 PA is behind only Gary Sheffield and his 31 home runs per 600 PA in rate of frequency. Looking at the current list of players with over 100 homers for the team, only Hanley Ramirez figures to move past Uggla in the near future, with Ramirez at 134 home runs and likely to hit at least 20 in a healthy 2011.
Of course, Uggla's faults were always on the field, as he was a notoriously poor second baseman. TotalZone had Uggla rated at 36 runs below average in his time as a Marlin, while UZR had him at 22 runs below average. Put that in perspective when compared to Castillo: in just three seasons, Castillo was a staggering 78 runs above average compared to Uggla's career totals. That difference is almost worth eight wins. Of course, in Castillo's total time as a Fish, he was a good seven wins according to TotalZone better than Uggla.
Uggla had him beat significantly at the plate, however, such that the overall picture is very comparable. In both measures of Wins Above Replacement, Uggla averaged more wins per 600 PA than Castillo did. However, if you compared both players' appropriately aged years (ages 26 to 30, with Castillo including a season in Minnesota), both come out very similarly in terms of WAR.
|Player, Ages 26-30||fWAR||rWAR|
As polar opposites as these guys may have been, their value was surprisingly similar. So who do you vote for in this case? Does Castillo's longevity with the team help him, or does his poor play in limited time drag his value down a little? Does Uggla's standing as current home run king help? How about Castillo's ring? Cast your votes and we'll unveil the winner this Friday!