The Marlins were nice enough to finish the season with exactly 500 players on their all-time role-call. This list will count them down to number one using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric. I use WAR to rate and rank players against one another because even though the same number may mean slightly different things from year-to-year, it's always a relative rank against current competition. I totaled up WAR for each Marlin to play in a major league regular season game, including hitting for every player and pitching for each applicable player (even if it was only for one inning). This lets us use one measure for everyone, regardless of position or exactly when they played the game. We will start out with five players per day for the first 60 articles. Once we get to 200, we will do four per day for 20 days, three per day for 20 days, and so on. This countdown will keep you (and me) busy all the way until spring training.
A quick note on WAR: A low WAR doesn't necessarily mean that a player is bad, exactly, but a high WAR almost always favors the best of the best. You'll notice that there are some fan favorites here in the bottom part of the countdown, even though some of them may have had some memorable moments. As much as I hate putting a fan favorite so low in the countdown, the relative worth of these players when stacked up against other major league players in the seasons in which they played will sometimes correspond with a low or even negative WAR rating.
Bryan Petersen, or Petey Pipes, was born on April 9th, 1986. An Agoura Hills, CA native, he was a fourth round selection of the Marlins in the 2007 amateur draft out of the University of California at Irvine. He joined the Jamestown Jammers in the New York-Penn League, Florida’s low-A affiliate. He played in 57 games that season after graduating, posting a .250/.318/.389/.707 statline with five home runs and 24 RBI.
In 2008, Petersen would start with the Greensboro Hornets in the single-A Southern Atlantic League, appearing in 79 contests and drilling 19 home runs with 58 RBI and a statline of .301/.381/.541/.922. He was promoted to the Jupiter Hammerheads in the high-A Florida State League, hitting .265/.339/.355/.694 over 40 games, with three round-trippers and a dozen RBI. By the end of the season, he found himself with the double-A level Carolina Mudcats in the Southern League, getting hits in 13-of-37 at bats, along with five walks, a home run, and 10 RBI. 2009 would see him spend the whole campaign with the Jacksonville Suns. He played in 121 games for the Suns, hitting .297/.368/.413/.781 with seven home runs and 49 RBI.
Petersen started out 2010 with the New Orleans Zephyrs, where he appeared in 91 games and hit .255/.332/.354/.686 with five home runs and 27 RBI. He joined Florida at the major league level for two months in the middle part of the season, mostly as a pinch hitter and late-game defensive replacement. He singled in his first major league at bat, a pinch hit in the eighth inning of a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals. He would only collect one more hit with the team that season, ending his time two-for-24 with two walks, one run, and six strikeouts.
2011 would see Petersen split his time between the Zephyrs (67 games, .351/.434/.569, 1.003, 11 home runs, 26 RBI) and the Marlins. He started 51 games for Florida, appearing in 74 overall. On August 2nd, he pinch hit for Steve Cishek in the top of the ninth with one out and the bases loaded, knocking in two (unofficial) runs on an error for the go ahead margin in a 4-3 win over the New York Mets. On September 4th, he went two-for-four with a stolen base and three walks in a 5-4, 14-inning win against the Philadelphia Phillies. On September 27th, he went hitless on the night until slamming a pitch deep over the left field wall for his second and final home run of the season, breaking a 2-2 tie with a walk off win over the Washington Nationals. He closed the door on the season with a .265/.357/. 387/.744 statline, 18 runs, 13 doubles, three triples, and 10 RBI to go with his pair of long balls.
In 2012, Petersen again split his time between New Orleans (64 games, .321/.380/.407/.787, three home runs, 28 RBI) and Miami. In 84 games for the Marlins, he hit .195/.272/.257/.530 with 17 RBI. On August 18th, he went three-for-five leading off for the Fish in a 6-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Petersen didn’t get another chance at the majors in 2013, instead spending the entire campaign with the Zephyrs, hitting .275/.363/.407/.770 in 136 games, with eight home runs and 49 RBI.
Petersen signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers after the 2013 season, then spent the year with the triple-A Pacific Coast League Round Rock Express, hitting .252/.321/.418/.739 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI. This season, he played for the Milwaukee Brewers’ PCL team, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, hitting .218/.262/.294/.556 in 47 games, with 13 RBI.
All-Time Statline: 181 games, 103-for-469, 48 runs, 22 doubles, six triples, two home runs, 29 RBI, 15 stolen bases, 52 walks, 113 strikeouts, .220/.303/.305/.608, -1.4 win shares.
489. Rob Natal
Rob Natal was a 5’11", 190 lb. catcher from Long Beach, CA. Born on November 13th, 1965, he was a 13th round pick of the Montreal Expos in the 1987 amateur draft out of the University of California at San Diego. He hit .384/.471/.731/1.203 in three seasons there.
Natal joined the Jamestown Jammers after graduation, spending the second half of the season in the low-A level New York-Penn League. In 57 games, he hit .322/.369/.528/.897 with seven home runs and 32 RBI. He spent 1988 in the Florida State League for the high-A West Palm Beach Expos, where he played in 113 games and hit .240/.306/.331/.637 with six homers and 51 RBI.
In 1989, Natal remained with West Palm Beach for the first 15 games of the season, going six-for-48 before getting promoted to the Jacksonville Suns in the double-A level Southern League. He played in 46 games there, hitting .206/.248/.277/.525 with 11 RBI. It wasn’t good enough to go up a level, so he played with the Suns again in 1990, improving to .246/.318/.421/.739 with seven round-trippers and 25 RBI in 62 games.
1991 would see Natal join the Expos new double-A affiliate in the Eastern League, the Harrisburg Senators. In 100 games with the Sens, he hit .256/.359/.438/.796 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI, good enough for a move to join the Indianapolis Indians in the triple-A American Association. He played 16 games to close out the season, going 13-for-41 with nine RBI. He spent most of the 1992 campaign with Indianapolis as well, playing in 96 games and hitting .302/.359/.480/.839 with 12 homers and 50 RBI. He also joined the Expos for two weeks at the end of July that season, getting into five games but going 0-for-six from the plate, with one walk. After the season, the Marlins spent an expansion draft pick on him, selecting him 55th overall.
Natal started out Florida’s inaugural season with the Edmonton Trappers, Florida’s triple-A team in the Pacific Coast League. He got into 17 contests for the team, going 21-for-66 with six doubles, three homers, and 16 RBI. Over half the season, however, would see him in the bigs with the Marlins. He wouldn’t collect his first big-league hit until his 19th plate appearance, on July 4th. He ended up with three hits that day, including a two-run home run in a 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves. On August 15th, he hit an RBI triple in the bottom of the 15th, winning the game in walk-off fashion, 3-2 over the Chicago Cubs. Natal ended up getting playing time in 41 contests for the Marlins, hitting .214/.273/.291/.564 and striking out 22 times in 117 at bats.
In 1994, Natal played with the Trappers for 37 games, hitting three home runs and 19 RBI with a .278/.328/.435/.763 statline and 18 strikeouts in 115 at bats. He joined Florida for just over a month starting at the end of July, getting into 10 games. He hit eight-for-29 with two doubles, five walks, and two RBI, with a .276/.382/.345/.727 statline.
1995 would see Natal play 53 games with the Charlotte Knights, Florida’s new triple-A affiliate in the International League. He hit .314/.358/.435/.793 with 14 doubles, three homers, 24 RBI, and 23 strikeouts in 191 at bats. He joined the Fish for 19 games throughout the year, mostly concentrated in the last two months of the season. On August 12th, he hit a double and a home run with three RBI in a 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Overall, he hit 10-for-43 with two doubles, a triple, and two long balls, with six RBI.
For the only time in his professional career, Natal would only appear in the majors through the 1996 season, playing in 44 games. He hit just .113/.257/.167/.424 with four runs scored and two RBI along with 31 strikeouts in 90 at bats. He only had one game where he collected multiple hits, on August 19th in a 4-3 win against the Chicago Cubs when he went two-for-three with a walk.
In 1997, Natal played most of the season with the Knights, hitting .267/.319/.482/.801 in 78 games, with 11 home runs and 49 RBI. He went two-for four with a double in four games for the Marlins, and did not appear for them in the postseason. Regardless, he earned a ring as part of the 1997 World Champion team.
Natal started out the 1998 campaign with the Knights, hitting .273/.322/.486/.808 over 68 games, with 11 home runs and 39 RBI. He then went four-for-15 in four games with the Durham Bulls in the International League late in the season, with one double and four RBI.
All-Time Statline: 115 games, 57-for-283, 13 runs, 10 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 19 RBI, two stolen bases, 29 walks, 67 strikeouts, .201/.282/.300/.582, -1.4 win shares.
Marc Valdes was a 6’, 170 lb. right-handed pitcher from Dayton, OH. Born on December 20th, 1971, he was drafted by the Marlins in the first round of the 1993 amateur draft, with the 27th overall selection out of the University of Florida. He went 31-13 with the Gators, with a 3.14 ERA and 351 strikeouts in 393 innings and a 1.31 WHIP. He joined the low-A level Elmira Pioneers in the New York-Penn League after graduation, where he would go 0-2 over three starts, with a 5.59 ERA and 15 strikeouts in only 9.2 innings.
Valdes started out 1994 with the single-A level Kane County Cougars in the Midwest League, where he went 7-4 over 11 starts, with a 2.95 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, and 68 strikeouts in 71.1 innings. His performance got him promoted to the double-A Portland Sea Dogs in the Eastern League, where he was just as impressive in 12 starts, going 8-4 with a 2.55 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and 70 K’s in 99 innings.
In 1995, Valdes began the season with the triple-A level Charlotte Knights in the International League, where he put up a 9-13 record over 27 starts with a 4.86 ERA. The Marlins called him up for three turns in the rotation in late August. He made his major league debut on the 28th and went three innings against the Houston Astros, giving up seven hits and three walks for four runs (two earned). He struck out one and earned a no decision as the Marlins eventually won, 6-4. A week later on September 2nd, he went three innings and gave up eight hits and three walks for seven runs in a 10-8 loss to Houston. On September 10th, he gave up two earned runs in one inning on two hits and two walks, but the Marlins came back to win, 5-4 over the Atlanta Braves. He closed his season with a 14.14 ERA and a 3.714 WHIP.
1996 would see Valdes pitch at three levels for the Marlins, with Portland (6-2, 2.66, 10 starts, 64.1 innings pitched, 49 strikeouts, 1.12 WHIP), Charlotte (2-4, 5.12, eight starts, 51 innings, 24 strikeouts, 1.59 WHIP) and Florida. For the Marlins, he pitched in 11 games, starting eight and racking up a 1-3 record with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.767 WHIP. He struck out 13 in 48.1 innings. His best game of the season would be his only Marlins win, a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs where he pitched 6.2 frames and allowed two earned runs on four hits. After the season, the Montreal Expos claimed him off waivers from Florida.
Valdes pitched two seasons at the major league level for Montreal, going 5-7 with a 4.33 ERA and a 1.409 WHIP in 68 games, striking out 82 in 131 innings. He later made major league appearances with the Houston Astros in 2000 (5-5, 5.05, 53 games, 57 innings, 35 strikeouts, 1.659 WHIP) and the Atlanta Braves (1-0, 7.71, nine games, seven innings, three strikeouts, 1.143 WHIP). He played three seasons between the Hanshin Tigers and the Chunichi Dragons over the three seasons beginning in 2002, going 5-7 with a 3.15 ERA, 94 strikeouts in 137 innings, and a 1.248 WHIP. He is currently the pitching coach for the Binghamton Mets.
All-Time Statline: 14 games, 11 starts, 1-3, 5.98 ERA, 55.2 IP, 32 BB, 15 SO, 2.012 WHIP, -1.2 WAR
487. Junior Félix
Felix was a 6’, 170 lb. outfielder from Laguna Salada, Dominican Republic. Born on October 3rd, 1967, he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 1985. Before making his major league debut in 1989, he played on season each at the Rookie level (Medicine Hat Blue Jays, Pioneer League, 67 games, .285/.382/.388/.769, 37 SB), the Single-A level (Myrtle Beach Blue Jays, Southern Atlantic League, 124 games, .290/.361/.438/.799, 64 SB), the Double-A level (Knoxville Blue Jays, Southern League, 92 games, .253/.297/.350/.647) and a few weeks at the Triple-A level (Syracuse Chiefs, International League, .276/.340/.402/.743, 40 SB). He joined Toronto for 110 games in his official rookie season, hitting .258/.315/.395/.710 with nine home runs, 46 RBI, 18 stolen bases, and 33 walks against 101 strikeouts.
Felix played another season for the Blue Jays in 1990 (127 games, .263/.328/.441/.769, 15 home runs, 65 RBI, 13 stolen bases, 45 walks, 99 strikeouts) before joining the California Angels for two seasons (205 games, .257/.299/.364/.663, 11 home runs, 98 RBI, 15 stolen bases, 44 walks, 183 strikeouts). The Marlins picked him 59th overall in the expansion draft on November 17th, 1992.
For the Marlins, Felix opened the season as the regular right fielder, and hit .238/.276/.397/.673 with seven home runs (including Florida’s first ever grand slam), 22 RBI and six stolen bases. On May 8th, he went three-for-five with a solo homer and two runs scored in a 4-2 win over the New York Mets. On May 21st, he hit a single in the fifth and scored then hit a two-run game-winning homer of Paul Assenmacher in the eighth for a 5-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. On June 12th, he drew a walk in the second, hit a three-run homer in the third off Bob Walk, then tripled and scored in the seventh as the Marlins took a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Felix struck out 50 times in just 225 plate appearances, leading to the lowest win share total of his career. He was reassigned to the Edmonton Trappers in late June, and didn’t again appear with the Marlins at the major league level. He was officially released on July 6th.
Felix signed with the Detroit Tigers before the 1994 season, and enjoyed some success by hitting .306/.372/.525/.897 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI. He was granted free agency after the season, and didn’t appear again at the major league level.
All-Time Statline: 57 games, 51-for-214, 25 runs, 11 doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 22 RBI, two stolen bases, 10 walks, 50 strikeouts, .238/.276/.397/.673, -1.2 win shares.
486. Ichiro! Suzuki
Suzuki is a future hall-of-famer from Nichi Kasugai-gun, Japan. Born on October 22nd, 1973, the 5’11", 170 lb. right fielder made his major league debut at the age of 27, with the 2001 Seattle Mariners. In 11 and a half seasons with Seattle, he tops the Mariners’ all-time leaderboard with 2533 hits, 79 triples, and 438 stolen bases, also ranking highly with 1844 games played, 1176 runs scored, and 295 doubles. He even ranks 12th on their leaderboard in home runs, with 99, despite never being known as a power hitter. He hit over .300 in each of his first 10 major league seasons, leading the AL as a rookie in 2001 at .350 and again in 2004 with a .372 average. His 262 hits in 2004 is a major league record. He was the 2001 AL Rookie of the Year as well as the league MVP. He was also an all-star Golden Glove winner in every season from 2001 through 2010, and also won three Silver Sluggers during the span. On July 23rd, 2012, the Mariners traded him to the New York Yankees for Danny Farguhar and DJ Mitchell. Overall, he hit .322/.366/.418/.784.
As a Yankee, Suzuki played two and a half seasons. He hit .281/.314/.364/.679 with 13 home runs and 84 RBI over 360 games. He ranked second on the club in games played in 2013 with 150, behind only Robinson Cano.
Ichiro signed on with the Marlins on January 27th, 2015. Despite being the third oldest player player in the National League, and filling the role of "fourth outfielder," he led Miami with 153 appearances as injury felled each of the other three outfield starters, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. He made 73 appearances in right field, 30 in left, and seven in center, making 217 putouts and five outfield assists without an error. Far from the statistical success rate he set earlier in his career, he hit .229/.282/.279/.561, with six triples and 21 RBI. He also stole 11-of-16 bases, ranking third on the club in the category. Ichiro still had multiple hits on 19 occasions through the season, collecting three or more three times. On August 18th, he went four-for-five and scored twice, hitting three singles and a double in a 9-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. He also got to pitch for the first time in his career on the last day of the season, allowing a run on two hits in an inning of a 7-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ichiro recently signed a contract to return to the Marlins for the 2016 season. He sits 65 hits short of 3000 for his North American major league career, and is the active MLB leader in career stolen bases, at 498. His 2,390 singles rank him ninth all-time in major league history.
All-Time Statline: 153 games, 91-for-398, 45 runs, five doubles, six triples, one home run, 21 RBI, 11 stolen bases, 31 walks, 51 strikeouts, .229/.282/.279/.561, -1.2 WAR
Thanks for reading part three of the countdown. Tomorrow, we set our sights on four pitchers and a Mabry (and I don't mean maybe...)