Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes will be going through Marlins’ history for the 100 players who contributed the most to on-field success for the franchise. Using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, the floor was set at 2.0. Today’s player, right-handed pitcher John Burkett, earned 21.6 career WAR, 2.4 of it while playing with the Marlins.
Burkett was a 6’2”, 175 lb. pitcher from New Brighton, Pennsylvania. Born on November 28th, 1964, he was drafted initially by the San Francisco Giants in the sixth round of the 1983 amateur draft, with the 148th overall selection. Six other players drafted in that round played in the major leagues at some point, but none of them achieved a WAR above 0.0.
For his first seven professional seasons, Burkett played through all of San Francisco’s minor league levels, from the rookie-level Great Falls Giants, through the single-A Clinton Giants, the double-A Shreveport Giants, and the triple-A Shreveport
Giants Captains. He did make three appearances with San Francisco in 1987, pitching six innings and allowing 10 baserunners.
Burkett made it to the majors to stay in 1990, and went 67-42 through five full seasons with the Giants. He led the NL with 22 wins in 1993, making the all-star team and finishing fourth in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award. He earned a 3.83 ERA, a 1.273 WHIP, and 591 strikeouts in 997.1 innings. He didn’t miss a start for the four full seasons between 1990 and 1993. During the 1994-95 offseason, just before Christmas, the Giants traded him to the Texas Rangers for Rich Aurilia and Desi Wilson. The Rangers couldn’t sign him, and after gaining his free agency, he signed on with the Marlins for three years and $10,450,000.
1995 would see the Marlins post a 67-76 strike-shortened record. Burkett started on opening day plus 29 other times, and earned 28 decisions, going 14-14. The Marlins were 53-62 in their other games. Burkett led the team with four complete games, 188.1 innings, and 126 strikeouts. He earned a 1.407 WHIP and a 4.30 ERA.
On July 19th, Burkett earned a complete game 3-1 victory over the Giants, striking out eight while allowing just four singles and a double. He also knocked in Florida’s last run of the game, on a ninth inning groundout. On August 30th, he got over .500 with a full game win against the Chicago Cubs, striking out five and allowing a Sammy Sosa solo home run for a 4-1 win. In a 2-1 win against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 20th, he allowed four hits and struck out four. 10 days later, he struck out 10 Phillies over five innings, but took the 3-2 loss by giving up all three runs.
Burkett went 6-10 in 1996 for the Fish, and the team went 9-15 over his 24 starts. In Florida’s second game of the season, he pitched eight innings, allowing only an unearned run and striking out five Pirates in an eventual 4-1 loss. 10 days later, he pitched a complete game two-hitter, giving up a round-tripper to Raul Mondesi and a single to Brett Butler in a 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. On August 8th, the Marlins traded Burkett to the Rangers for a PTBNL (Rick Helling) and Ryan Dempster.
After playing four seasons with the Rangers (102 games, 600.1 innings, 32-35, 5.13 ERA, 1.444 WHIP, 413 strikeouts), Burkett would play two seasons each with the Atlanta Braves (65 games, 22-18, 353.2 innings, 3.74 ERA, 1.329 WHIP, 297 strikeouts) and the Boston Red Sox (61 games, 25-17, 4.85 ERA, 354.2 innings, 1.404 WHIP, 231 strikeouts.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look back at Mike Dunn’s time with the club, at number 82.