Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the top 100 Marlins of all-time. For comparison’s sake, we are using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric as a measuring device. The top 100 WAR ratings are being featured. Today’s Marlin, Dave Berg, earned 2.9 while with Florida.
Berg, a 5’11”, 185 lb. infielder from Roseville, California, was born on September 3rd 1970. The Marlins drafted him in the 38th round of the 1993 amateur draft, with the 1079th overall selection. Also chosen that round were outfielder Chad Allen and right-hander Brandon Kolb.
Berg reported to the low-A Elmira Pioneers in the New York Penn League after his selection, and hit .263/.356/.359/.715 over 75 contests. He had four homers, 28 RBI, and seven stolen bases through the campaign. He spent the following season with the single-A Kane County Cougars in the Midwest League, where he slashed .268/.354/.428/.782 in 121 games, with nine round-trippers, 53 RBI, and eight stolen bags.
Berg went on to spend a season each at each of Florida’s next three minor league levels, starting in 1995 with the Brevard County Manatees in the high-A Florida State League (114 games, .298/.407/.374/.781, 39 RBI, nine stolen bases), on to the Eastern League Portland Sea Dogs at the double-A level in 1996 (109 games, nine homers, 73 RBI, 17 stolen bases), and further on to the triple-A International League Charlotte Knights in 1997 (117 games, .295/.377/.448/.825, nine home runs, 47 RBI, 16 stolen bases.
Berg joined the defending World Champion Marlins in 1998, but helped them only to a 21-60 record in his appearances (Florida went 33-48 otherwise). His .313 batting average led the team with players over 200 plate appearances, as did his .393 on base percentage. He had multiple hit performances on 12 occasions, including four three-hit affairs over his 81 games. He earned a total of 1.2 WAR through his ultimately seven-season career, which equalled his single-season WAR for his rookie campaign in 1998.
On June 6th, Berg pinched for Craig Counsell in the top of the eighth inning, trailing 4-1 to the New York Yankees, and hit a one-out RBI-double to kickstart Florida’s offense. Unfortunately, it kick-ended there too, as the Marlins lost the game, 4-2. Three days later, Berg hit an RBI-double and scored in the second, hit a single in the fourth, then hit a single and scored the walk-off winning run in the ninth inning of a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. On July 24th, in the second half of a doubleheader, Berg went three-for-five with a double, a sacrifice, and a stolen base as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Marlins, 7-6 in 12 innings. On the first day of August, in an eventual 9-7 10-inning loss to the Cincinnati Reds, Berg drew a walk in the first, singled and scored in the fourth, hit a two run jack in the fifth, and added a single in the ninth. On August 7th, Berg came to the plate with one out and two on in the ninth, pinch hitting for Todd Dunwoody, and hit a game-tying RBI-single to left to send a 3-3 tie with the San Diego Padres to extra innings. The Marlins lost, incidentally, by a 6-3 margin. Berg collected three singles in a 7-5 loss to the Reds on August 29th. In the top half of a twin bill on September 26th, Berg had five productive plate appearances, hitting a single, a double, a sacrifice fly, and two sacrifice hits for two RBI in a 4-3 victory against the Phillies.
In 1999, Berg ranked sixth on the Marlins with 109 games played and hit .286/.348/.382/.730 in 336 plate appearances. He had 18 two-baggers, three round-trippers, 25 RBI and 42 runs scored. He also set a career high with a 1.6 WAR rating, a value which he would never again get remotely close to. The Marlins improved by 10 games, to 64-98, including a 37-72 mark with Berg’s involvement. They posted a 27-26 record when he didn’t play, so go figure. He totaled 24 multi-hit games, including seven contests with three or more hits.
On May 1st, Berg hit a single and scored in the first, added an RBI-single in the second, singled in the fifth, drew a walk in the seventh, and hit another single in the bottom of the ninth, but Florida lost to the Houston Astros that day, 6-4. In the second game of a doubleheader on June 8th, Berg hit four singles and scored three runs as the Marlins topped the Baltimore Orioles, 5-3. On June 27th, in a 4-3 Florida win against the Montreal Expos, Berg singled in the fourth before smacking a two-out two-run double in the eighth to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead. On July 24th, in a 4-1 Marlins win against the Milwaukee Brewers, Berg hit a run-scoring double in the second, an RBI-single in the sixth, and added a double and a run in the eighth inning.
Berg hit a single in the first, drew a walk and scored in the fourth, hit a two-run shot in the sixth, added an RBI-single in the seventh, drew another walk in the 10th, and finished things off with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 12th inning of a wild, 8-7 win against the San Francisco Giants on August 10th. Berg came up a three-bagger short of a cycle on September 11th as the Fish dropped a 12-4 decision to the Reds. Six days later, Berg went four-for-five with two runs and an RBI in a 10-6 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit a single with two doubles and two RBI on September 26th, in an 8-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
In 2000, Berg totaled a 0.2 WAR through his 82 games played, hitting .252/.340/.343/.683 in 245 plate appearances. He had 14 doubles, 21 RBI, 23 runs and 25 walks while appearing at shortstop, third base, and second base. The Fish went 37-45 when he played and 42-37 when he didn’t. He had 10 multihit games, only twice finishing with as many as three hits.
On April 28th, Berg hit an RBI-single in the second, singled and scored in the seventh, and hit a double in the ninth inning before the Marlins turned in a 5-3 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. On June 26th, in a 10-5 loss to the New York Mets, Berg hit two singles and a triple, scoring and knocking a run in while also getting to first base by drawing a HBP. On July 29th, Berg hit a bases-loaded one-out two-RBI single in the bottom of the eight to put the Marlins ahead of the DBacks, 4-2. The Marlins would win by the same score after a perfect ninth from Antonio Alfonseca.
2001 would see Berg turn in a replacement-level campaign over 82 games, hitting .242/.292/.363/.655 over 235 plate appearances. He had 12 doubles, four homers, 16 RBI, 14 walks, and 26 runs. Florida went 41-39 when Berg didn’t play, and 35-47 when he did. He had 11 two-hit games in what would be his final season with the Marlins.
Berg hit a double and a triple, scoring a run in a 5-2 loss the the Braves on September 25th. He had his only three hit game of the season five days later, hitting two singles and a double, scoring two runs and collecting an RBI in an 8-3 Marlins’ win over Philadelphia. After the end of the season, he was granted free agency, and signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Berg played three seasons for the Jays, hitting .263/.307/.372/.679 in 228 games. He had 11 home runs and 80 RBI as a utilityman extraordinaire, playing at six positions during his tenure north of the border. After the 2004 season, he was signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox, and although he didn’t make it back to the majors, he did hit .306/.393/.398/.791 in 112 games for the triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox through the 2005 season. After getting cut by the Sox, he signed on with the St. Louis Cardinals, but didn’t make it through 2006 spring training. The Texas Rangers picked him up on May 13th, but after he hit five-for-27 over eight games for the triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks, he announced his retirement on May 23rd.