During the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the top 100 all-time Marlins. Using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric as a yardstick, today’s Marlin, Jerry Browne, earned 2.7 while with the team.
Browne was a 5’10”, 140 lb. middle infielder and outfielder from Christiansted, St. Croix. Born on February 13th, 1966, he was signed by the Texas Rangers through free agency by scout Orlando Gomez in 1983.
We had a little tournament in Puerto Rico. They actually came over to St. Croix first, and Orlando came over with them. The following week, we ended up going back over there, and luckily I had a pretty good series. I caught his eye, and he came back, and we sat down and talked. He told me who he was and what was going on, and I'm like 'Whoa!' That was kind of surprising. There were a few scouts coming in and out of the Virgin Islands, but not very many. - Browne, courtesy of sabr.org
After his selection, Browne joined the Gulf Coast League rookie-level Rangers, where he slashed .282/.390/.315/.705 over 48 games. He played at the single-A level the following year, with the Burlington Rangers in the Midwest League (127 games, .236/.346/.264/.610, 31 stolen bases).
In 1985, Browne remained at the single-A level with Texas’ new affiliate, the Salem Redbirds in the Carolina League (122 games, .267/.379/.343/.722, 58 RBI, 24 stolen bases). The following season was spent mostly at the double-A level with the Tulsa Drillers in the Texas League (128 games, .303/.381/.375/.722, 57 RBI, 39 stolen bases). He did get to the major league near the end of the year, joining Texas for a dozen games and going 10-for-24.
After parts of three seasons in Texas (217 games, .263/.346/.334/.679, 58 RBI, 34 stolen bases), Browne spent time with the Cleveland Indians (400 games, .273/.348/.358/.706, 124 RBI, 28 stolen bases) and the Oakland Athletics (187 games, .271/.340/.346/.686, 59 RBI). The Marlins signed him for one year and $650,000 at the start of 1994.
Browne, a switch-hitter, joined the Marlins as their every day third baseman and ranked fourth on the second-year team with 101 appearances, although he also had many starts at second base, left field, and center field. He led the team with 52 walks while striking out only 23 times, hitting .295/.392/.398/.790 over 388 plate appearances. He hit 17 doubles with four triples and three home runs, knocking in 30 and stealing three bases. He had 23 multi-hit games, and the team posted a 44-57 record in the games that he played, versus a 7-7 record when he sat. 2.5 of Browne’s 2.7 WAR while with the team were from the 1994 campaign.
On May 5th, in a 5-0 Marlins win over the Philadelphia Phillies, Browne accounted for most of Florida’s offense with a 3-run triple in the first inning. On June 15th, Browne led off with a walk and scored in the first, drew another walk and scored in the second, hit a two-run single and scored in the third, hit a double in the fourth, then added a single in the eighth as the Marlins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 13-3. On August 2nd, in a 3-2 10-inning Marlins’ win over the Chicago Cubs, Browne walked and scored in the sixth, then tripled and scored the winning run in the 10th. The next day, he doubled in the first, drew first and scored by getting plunked in the sixth, then hit a solo home run to take a 7-6 lead in the eighth inning against the Cubs. The Marlins eventually won, 9-8. On August 11th, he led off with a single, hit a double and scored in the fourth, hit an RBI-single in the fifth, and drew a walk in the sixth inning of a rain-shortened, 8-6 Marlins loss to the Cardinals. After that game, the remainder of the season was postponed and eventually cancelled due to the labor dispute, which eliminated Florida’s last 47 games and the postseason. He signed a second one-year, $650,000 contract after the season.
In 1995, Browne played in 77 games, helping the Marlins to a 31-46 record in his appearances. Florida went 36-30 otherwise. Out of 220 plate appearances, Browne drew 25 walks and struck out 20 times, hitting .255/.346/.293/.639 with 17 RBI. He started 41 games, starting 21 times at second base, four times at third base, eight times in center field, four times in left, and four times in right. He had 10 multi-hit games, with three three-hit affairs. On July 2nd, in a 7-6 loss to the Montreal Expos, he singled in the first, hit an RBI-single in the fifth, and added a two-RBI single in the sixth to take a 6-5 lead. He wouldn’t again appear in the majors after the season.
I had fun at baseball, I thought I was really going to miss it, but I got other stuff going. I'll sit down and watch a ballgame at home now, but I won't go out to the ballpark. The guys I played with, whenever they come to town, I'll go out and shoot the breeze with them, but I can't even tell you the last time I picked up a bat and ball. - Browne, in 1999
Browne got into coaching later, serving as a hitting coach with the Augusta GreenJackets in 2005. He later coached with the Savannah Sand Gnats, the Hagerstown Suns, the Potomac Nationals, and the Syracuse Chiefs.