Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is detailing the 100 players with the most impact on Marlins’ victory throughout their existence. From 1993 through today, each of the 528 players to have appeared in a game for the team were considered. I used the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric to order the finalists. Number 100, Adam Conley, had a 2.0 WAR. Today’s Marlin, Javier Vazquez, totaled 2.9 while with the team.
Vazquez was a 6’2”, 210 lb. right-hander from Ponce, Puerto Rico. Born on July 25th, 1976, he was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the fifth round of the 1994 amateur draft. Also chosen in the same round as the “Silent Assassin” were fellow right-handed future major leaguers Bob Howry, Ryan Drese, and Steve Woodward.
After Vazquez’ selection, the Expos assigned him to the Gulf Coast League rookie-level affiliate, where he racked up a 5-2 record a 2.53 ERA, and a microscopic 0.768 WHIP over 67.2 innings. The following season with the single-A Albany Polecats in the South Atlantic League, he went 6-6 with a 5.08 ERA and a 1.519 WHIP over 21 starts, striking out 87 batters in 102.2 innings.
Montreal changed single-A affiliates the following season, and sent Vazquez to them for another year of seasoning. It seemed to pay off, to the tune of a 14-3 record, a 2.68 ERA, and a 1.187 WHIP for the Delmarva Shorebirds. He whiffed 173 batters in 164.1 innings over 27 starts.
1997 would see Vazquez split the season between the high-A West Palm Beach Expos in the Florida State League (19 starts, 6-3, 2.16 ERA, 112.2 innings, 100 strikeouts, 1.118 WHIP) and the double-A Harrisburg Senators in the Eastern League (six starts, 4-0, 1.07 ERA, 47 K’s, 42.0 innings, 0.643 WHIP. While with the Senators, he allowed only 15 hits over 42 innings.
Vazquez got to the majors with Montreal in 1998, and played with the team for six seasons. He went 64-68 with a 4.16 ERA, a 1.274 WHIP, and 1076 strikeouts in 1229.1 innings. He had 16 complete games and six shutouts during his time with the club. After the 2003 campaign, the Expos traded him to the New York Yankees for Randy Choate, Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera.
Vazquez made his only all-star team in his first season in the Big Apple, posting a 14-10 record with a 4.91 ERA, a 1.288 WHIP, and 150 strikeouts in 198 innings over 32 starts. He then spent a season with the Arizona Diamondbacks (33 starts, 11-15, 4.42 ERA, 1.247 WHIP, 215.2 innings, 192 strikeouts) and three with the Chicago White Sox (97 starts, 38-36, 4.40 ERA, 1.249 WHIP, 627.2 innings, 597 strikeouts).
Vazquez’s 12th major league season may have been his best. He posted a 15-10 record and a 2.87 ERA for the Atlanta Braves, with a 1.026 WHIP, 238 strikeouts in 219.1 innings, and a fourth place finish in the NL Cy Young award vote. He followed it with another season with the Yankees, and posted a 10-10 record, a 5.32 ERA, a 1.398 WHIP, and 121 strikeouts over 157.1 innings. On December 2nd, 2010, he signed a contract with the Marlins through free agency for one year and $7 million.
Javier Vazquez’s curvepiece makes me a Better Man. - Carson Cistuli
For the Marlins, Vazquez led the starting rotation with a 1.181 WHIP and with 13 wins as Florida’s number three pitcher. He went 13-11 over 32 starts, with a 3.69 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 192.2 innings. The team went 18-14 in his starts, versus a 54-76 record when he didn’t.
Vazquez didn’t start out very good, posting a 7.55 ERA and a 2-4 record over his first eight starts, allowing a .321 batting average over 39.1 innings. The turnaround started for him on May 21st, when he struck out seven Rays in as many innings, allowing no runs on three singles in a 5-3 Marlins win over Tampa Bay. On June 28th, He allowed an unearned run, walking zero and giving up three hits over seven innings, striking out five and taking the 1-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
On August 30th, Vazquez pitched seven shutout innings, striking out six and allowing three hits and a walk as the Marlins defeated the New York Mets, 6-0. He pitched a complete game shutout on September 16th, striking out seven while allowing five hits and zero walks in a 3-0 win against the Washington Nationals. In his next turn, five days later, he allowed two hits and a walk, striking out six over seven innings as the Marlins defeated the Atlanta Braves, 4-0. In his final start of the season, on September 27th, he struck out nine Nationals in a 3-2 complete game win against Washington.
Over his last 12 starts, Vazquez posted a 7-2 record, a 1.59 ERA, a .183 batting average, and a 0.800 WHIP, striking out 80 in 85 innings. Also over those 12 starts, he never allowed more hits than he had innings pitched, totaling 55.