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All-Time Top 100 Marlins: #49 Braden Looper

Braden Looper appeared in over 70 games in each of his five seasons with the Marlins.

Looper celebrates Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

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, Braden LaVern Looper, earned 3.9 while with the Marlins.

Looper was a 6’4”, 210 lb. right-handed pitcher from Weatherford, Oklahoma. Born on October 28th, 1974, he was chosen in the first round of the 1996 amateur draft with the third overall selection, by the St. Louis Cardinals. Also chosen with the other first four picks were fellow right-handers Kris Benson, Billy Koch, and John Patterson, as well as first baseman Travis Lee.

Looper got his first taste of the majors pretty soon afterward, getting to the Cardinals proper on opening day, 1998. He struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning of a 6-0 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but ended up playing most of the season with the triple-A Memphis Redbirds in the Pacific Coast League, going 2-3 over 40 contests, with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.377 WHIP. The Cards sent him with Pablo Ozuna and Armando Almanza after the season to the Marlins for Edgar Renteria.

Looper made the 1999 opening day roster for the Fish, and ended up pitching in a team-second 72 games in relief in during his official rookie season. He posted a 3-3 record with a 3.80 ERA in 83 innings pitched, striking out 50 batters and pitching to a 1.530 WHIP. On April 21st, he pitched three perfect innings of relief, striking out four Giants in a 4-0 loss to San Francisco.

In 2000, Looper led the team with 73 appearances and posted a 5-1 record with a 4.41 ERA. Control was an issue for Looper early in his career, as he posted a 1.589 WHIP and only struck out 29 in 67.1 innings pitched. He also saved his first two games for the Marlins.

2001 saw Looper increase his strikeout rate to 52 in 71 innings while dropping his WHIP to 1.310, as he posted a 3-3 record with a 3.55 ERA while again leading the Marlins pitching staff with 71 games. On April 15th, he pitched two perfect innings in a 6-3 Marlins win against the Montreal Expos. Four days later, in his first win of the season, he struck out three batters in two more perfect innings against the Expos.

In 2002, Looper added a wrinkle to his resume, as the Marlins made him their primary closer in mid-July. He would post a progressive career best 3.14 ERA while going 2-5 with 13 saves in an NL fifth-best 78 appearances and a career best 1.174 WHIP. On July 12th, Looper pitched three scoreless innings against Chicago in a 5-4, 16-inning loss to the Cubs. Two weeks later, he struck out four over two scoreless innings on an eventual 6-5 loss to Montreal. On September 10th, he earned his 10th save of the season by getting the last five outs against the Phillies, striking one batter out in a 2-1 win against Philadelphia.

2003 would see Looper retain his role as closer for the Marlins, as he saved 28 games and posted a 6-4 record with a 3.68 ERA in 74 games. He would also be a key figure for Florida in their run to their World Series title that year, going 2-0 with one save in eight postseason games.

Just after helping Florida to their second World Championship, Looper was granted free agency. He would go on to play for the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals before going 14-7 in his final Major League season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009.

Looper tried out for the Chicago Cubs during spring training in 2011, but voluntarily retired before the start of the season.