Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes will be counting down the top 100 all-time Marlins. Using the Wins Above Replacement metric, every player who ever appeared with the franchise was considered. After sorting everything out, the floor was set at a 2.0 cumulative WAR. Today’s Marlin, Paul Lo Duca, finished his Marlins’ career with a 2.5 mark.
Paul Lo Duca, born on April 12th, 1972, was a 5’10”, 193 lb. catcher from Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Apollo High School in Glendale, Arizona, he played college level ball with Arizona State University before getting selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 25th round of the 1993 amateur draft with the 690th overall choice. Other eventual major-leagues selected in that round were right-hander Shayne Bennett, outfielder Donzell McDonald, and catcher Chad Moeller, although none of them earned a career WAR value above zero.
For the first 11 years of his professional career, Lo Duca played with the Dodgers’ organization, and the first eight of those seasons were spent mostly at their minor league levels. When he made his major league debut in 1998, he went four-for-12 with a double and an RBI over six appearances. He wasn’t part of Los Angeles’ full time big league roster until the 2001 campaign. Before he was traded to the Marlins in 2004, he appeared in a total of 588 contests for the Dodgers, slashing .287/.342/.428/.771 with 57 round trippers and 275 RBI.
On July 30th, 2004, the Dodgers sent him with Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota to the Marlins for Hee-Seop Choi, Brad Penny, and Bill Murphy. Lo Duca played in 52 games with Florida to close out the season, hitting .258/.314/.376/.690 with three homers and 31 RBI. In his first ever at bat with the club, he went yard against the Montreal Expos in an 8-5 loss (see below). On August 5th, he went three-for-four with a walk, a home run and two RBI in an 11-5 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had 12 multi-hit games with the team going 28-24 with him in the lineup.
2005 would be Lo Duca’s only full season with the Marlins, and he made the all-star team for his efforts, his third such consecutive selection. In 132 games, he hit .283/.334/.380/.714, with six home runs and 57 RBI. He struck out only 31 times in 496 plate appearances. He had 35 multi-hit games and nine games with three or more. The club went 70-62 when he played and 13-17 when he did not. He ranked fourth in the NL with eight sacrifice flies, fifth in AB/SO with a value of 14.4, third in catcher putouts with 817, and fourth with 61 assists. His arm, never a strong suit, would show in that he only threw out 26% of alleged basestealers while with the team.
In a 15-5 Marlins’ win over the Chicago Cubs on June 15th, Lo Duca hit three singles and a double. On June 29th, he hit a double and two singles with an RBI in a 6-5 victory against the Atlanta Braves. July 29th would see him hit a single and a three run double in a 4-3 triumph against the Washington Nationals.
The Marlins traded Lo Duca to the New York Mets for Dante Brinkley and Gaby Hernandez during the 2005 winter meetings. After two seasons (and another all-star selection) with the Mets (243 games, .297/.334/.404/.739, 14 home runs, 103 RBI), Lo Duca signed on as a free agent with the Nationals (46 games, .230/.301/.281/.581, 12 RBI).
After getting released by the Nats on July 31st, 2008, the Marlins signed him as a free agent nine days later. In 21 games with the Fish to close out the season, he hit .294/.400/.353/.753. Florida went 10-11 when he played, and he had three multi-hit games.