Here at Fish Stripes, we have a long offseason ahead of us. In between the moves the Miami Marlins will be making in the coming months will be a lot of time spent reloading MLB Daily Dish to catch up on all the rumors about the franchise. But sometimes, you just want to talk about the Marlins without worrying about what player Jeffrey Loria may send away next. Sometimes, you just want to talk a little barroom Marlins baseball.
Well, that is what the offseason Fish Food series will look to provide. Every publishing day starting today and going forward until the preseason, we will provide a question as Marlins food for thought on that day. The questions are designed for discussion and are less about the opinions of Fish Stripes and more about the opinions of the Fish Stripes community!
So, let's get to today's first question: Who is the greatest player in Marlins history, and why?
Clearly, there are many ways to attack this question. One can use a strictly analytic viewpoint. One can look at accumulating a lot of playing time with Miami. One could look at the best peak in franchise history. One could consider only players who have contributed championships to the team. One could simply point out their favorite player from their favorite era.
This is a tough question for me as well. Strictly based on Wins Above Replacment (WAR), the choice turns out to be Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez had the second largest number of plate appearances in a Marlins uniform and owns two of the best seasons in Marlins history in 2008 and 2009. He contributed to an era that saw the Marlins put up their third-best single season record in team history. He was the best player on the franchise from 2006 to 2010, as Stanton took the mantle from him in 2011. But Ramirez had an attitude that rubbed many the wrong way, and the disappointment of his final few seasons in Miami tainted his great early play.
Miguel Cabrera is the logical second choice, as he ranks third in WAR in team history according to FanGraphs. He was a rookie when the Marlins won the 2003 World Series and he became an anchor in that lineup from 2004 until his departure. He may also have been the best hitter in Marlins history; he has the second-best career wOBA as a Marlin among players with at least 1000 plate appearances. But he too was a troublesome personality in his time in Miami, and the fact that he has become the best pure hitter in baseball likely taints our initial memory of him.
There are other candidates as well. Few players could beat the peak that Gary Sheffield hit in his brief time as a Marlin. Ditto that for Kevin Brown, whose two seasons in Miami were ridiculous. Cliff Floyd has the unfortunate honor of being the best Marlin in one of the team's worst eras from 1998 to 2002. Mike Lowell played consistently through a part of that era, but he may have only once been the best player on any given Marlins team. Luis Castillo lasted the longest as a Marlin, but he was never the best player on any team as well. And if the question comes to longevity as a Marlin, can anyone match Jeff Conine (aka Mr. Marlin) in terms of plate appearances, great performance, and World Series rings?
There are a lot of choices for that crown. Which one would you pick? Who do you believe was the best Marlin in team history, and why? Tell us in the comments!