The Marlins 2005 season is officially finished. As Craig reported yesterday (and as Carolina mentioned in the comments), Jack McKeon has stepped down and won't manage the team in 2006.
All things considered, the 2005 season was a very disappointing one for the Marlins. Many expected a post-season run. Many felt that the everyday lineup was the best that the Marlins had ever fielded -- including the two World Championship clubs. The pitching was equally strong, with Beckett, Burnett, and Willis coming into their primes.
Sadly, it just never came to be. We'll have the whole offseason to go over what went wrong and what needs to happen going forward. But today, let's look back at some of the things that went right:
- The Marlins finished the season at 83-79. That's the club's third straight winning season and fourth (1997) of all time.
- Dontrelle Willis won 22 games and is a legitimate contender for the Cy Young Award. Although he started the year in the 4th slot in the rotation, Willis--with his 2.63 ERA--clearly finished the year as the Marlins' ace. Dontrelle led the majors in wins and had the third-lowest ERA in all of baseball. Willis was also a terror at the plate, setting a franchise record with 24 hits.
- Jack McKeon notched his 1,000th win. He ended the year with number 1,011. His 241 wins as the Marlins' manager rank him first in franchise history.
- Todd Jones, signed to a minor league contract at the start of the year, made the roster as a setup man and emerged as the closer. Jones didn't just hold the "closer" title; he was dominant. Jones recorded 40 saves and had an ERA of 2.10.
- Though only 22, Miguel Cabrera had a near MVP-consideration worthy season. His OPS of .946 was impressive, as were his 33 homers and 116 RBI. His .323 batting average was the third highest in the National League. We'll likely have more serious discussions of Miguel's MVP candidacy in future seasons. It's hard to believe, but he's a few years away from his prime.
- Carlos Delgado was as good as advertised. Despite how difficult it is to hit a home run at JRS, Delgado hit 30+ homers (33) for the ninth straight season. He hit over .300 and posted an OPS of .981.
- Juan Encarnacion, who many felt only found himself with a starting role because of Jeff Conine's offseason injuries, impressed from the get go (as he hit a grand slam on opening day). He had a strong season with a .287 batting average and a .796 OPS.
- Luis Castillo gritted it out all year, despite serious nagging injuries. He continued to play Gold Glove-caliber defense and batted over .300 for the fifth time in his career. His .391 on-base percentage was his highest since 2000.
- Juan Pierre stole 57 bases. That total was good for second in the NL.
- Mike Lowell recorded his highest fielding percentage and zone rating of his major league career (excluding 1998, when he only played in seven games).
- The future looks bright for the Marlins, as a number of prospects made encouraging major league debuts. While there are many more prospects still developing in the minors, the glimpses we got in the majors were encouraging. While many debuted, here are a few who stood out: Jason Vargas, Scott Olsen, Jeremy Hermida, Robert Andino, Josh Johnson, and Josh Wilson.