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All-Time Top 100 Marlins: #57 Greg Colbrunn

Colbrunn spent three season with the fledgling Marlins franchise.

During Top Of 2nd Inning

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, Gregory Joseph Colbrunn, earned 3.3 while with Florida.

Colbrunn, born on Fontana, California on July 26th, 1969, was a 6’, 190 lb. catcher. A right-handed batter, he was picked initially in the sixth round of the 1987 amateur draft, with the 148th overall selection by the Montreal Expos. Also picked that round were fellow future major leaguers third baseman Dave Hollins, right-hander Frank Castillo, and catcher Darrin Fletcher. Colbrunn was offered a baseball scholarship with Stanford at the same time, but he turned it down to play professional ball.

Colbrunn joined the single-A Rockford Expos in the Midwest League the following season, where he slashed .266/.318/.369/.687 in 115 games, with seven homers, 46 RBI, and a .978 fielding percentage. He also allowed 19 passed balls, which may have contributed to his getting moved to first base two seasons later.

Colbrunn split the 1989 campaign catching for the Expos between their two Florida minor league affiliates, the West Palm Beach Expos in the single-A Florida State League (59 games, .237/.261/.272/.532, 25 RBI), and the Jacksonville Expos in the double-A Southern League (55 games, .275/.330/.399/.729, 18 RBI).

In 1990, Colbrunn remained at the double-A level with Jacksonville, and slashed .301/.358/.454/.812 over 125 games, with 13 round-trippers and 76 RBI. He allowed only seven passed balls all season, but his fielding percentage dropped to .981. Prior to the following season, he was named as Baseball America’s #85 prospect, but he blew out his right elbow, underwent reconstructive surgery, and missed the entire 1991 campaign. The Expos, realizing, that Colbrunn would no longer be able to throw runners out from behind the plate, moved him to first base, where he would remain throughout his career.

When Colbrunn returned to the diamond in 1992, he ended up spending half of the season at the triple-A level with the American Association’s Indianapolis Indians, where he hit .306/.333/.556/.889 with 11 homers and 48 RBI in 57 contests, logging a fielding percentage of .992 at his new position. In early July, he earned a callup to the majors with Montreal, and went two-for-five in his first appearance on July 9th, as the Expos defeated the San Francisco Giants, 6-5 in 10 innings. It was his first appearance of roughly 992 over his career, but we didn’t know that at the time. He played 52 with Montreal that season, hitting .268/.294/.351/.646 with two homers, 18 RBI, and a .992 fielding percentage. Aside from a few brief rehabiliatative appearances over the next 11 seasons, Colbrunn was done with minor league ball.

In 1993, Colbrunn appeared in 70 games for Montreal, and hit .255/.282/.392/.674 with four home runs, 23 RBI, and a .995 fielding percentage. On October 7th, the Expos for some reason said to themselves, “That’s it!” They waived Colbrunn, which is where the Marlins picked him up that same day.

1994 would see Colbrunn go 10-for-28 over 14 minor league appearances, in seven games each for the Brevard County Manatees and the Edmonton Trappers. In 47 contests with the Marlins, he would end up hitting .303/.345/.484/.829 with six home runs and 31 RBI over 168 plate appearances. Despite his limited time, he earned a 1.0 WAR while with the team that season, placing him ninth on the club. The Marlins, who posted a 30-38 record without Colbrunn in the lineup, went 21-26 when he played. He had 13 multihit games out of his 38 starts, including four three hit games.

On June 6th, Colbrunn hit an RBI-single in the first, a two-out RBI-double and scored in the seventh, and singled in the eighth inning of a wild, 11-10 Marlins loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. On June 15th, Colbrunn hit an RBI-single in the first, hit a double and scored in the second, doubled and scored in the third, then after the team batted around, hit a sacrifice fly for an RBI for the second out of the inning. He added a two RBI-single in the seventh as the Marlins swamped the St. Louis Cardinals, 13-3. Five Marlins had at least three hits as the team collected a then team-record 22 hits. On July 6th, Colbrunn pinch-hit for Dave Magadan in a 3-3 tie with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 10th, and hit a walk-off RBI-single to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-3.

I just wanted to hit it hard. I was lucky it snuck through there. - Colbrunn

In 1995, Colbrunn had a career-high 560 plate appearances in a team-high 138 games, and ranked second on the team to Jeff Conine in slugging percentage with a .277/.311/.453/.763 slashline. He also ranked second on the club with a career high 23 home runs, 89 RBI, and and a team-fourth 11 stolen bases. His 1.2 WAR, his best while with the Marlins, ranked 12th on the club. He also ranked second in the NL with 108 double plays turned, and fourth with a .996 fielding percentage at first base.

He’s always had the ability. Now that he’s healthy, he’s able to show it. It doesn’t surprise me at all what he’s done, because he works as hard as anybody, if not harder. - Conine

Colbrunn had 43 multi-hit games for the Marlins in 1995, at one point got onto base a then-career-best 17 games in a row, and finished with more than one RBI in 23 contests. On May 6th, he hit a single and scored in the second, hit a two-RBI double in the fourth, added another RBI-double in the sixth, and added a two-RBI single in the seventh inning of a 10-3 Marlins win over Colbrunn’s former team, the Expos.

Maybe I know their pitching pretty well. I caught a few of them, so I know what they throw. - Colbrunn

On July 18th, Colbrunn finished with a career-high seven RBI after hitting a three-run homer in the fourth, singling and scoring in the eighth, getting intentionally walked in the ninth, and uncorking a grand-slam in the 14th inning as the Marlins defeated the Giants, 12-10 in Candlestick Park. On July 30th, Colbrunn singled in the sixth and hit a two-run jack with two outs in the eighth to defeat the Cardinals, 3-1. On August 18th, Colbrunn went three-for-seven with two round-trippers and three RBI, but was more remembered for grounding into a double play with the bases loaded and one out in the 10th. The Marlins lost, 7-6 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 13 innings. After grounding into a double play and grounding out two more times in his first three at bats against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 19th, Colbrunn made a one-run deficit into a one-run lead with a single swing of the bat in the ninth. The blast scored Terry Pendleton to help the Fish to a 5-4 victory.

It’s nice to come back and snatch one like we did tonight. - Colbrunn

In 1996, Colbrunn ranked fourth on the team with 141 appearances, slashing .286/.333/.438/.772 with 16 homers and 69 RBI. He was third in the Senior Circuit with 130 double plays turned and with a .995 fielding percentage. He had a career-best 21-game-hitting-streak from May 31st to June 23rd, hitting .386 with eight doubles and 11 RBI. He finished with multiple hits in 40 of his 131 starts, and helped the Marlins to a 71-70 record in his appearances, versus a 9-12 mark when he didn’t play.

On May 14th, in an 11-5 Marlins win against St. Louis, Colbrunn singled in the first, hit a 475-foot solo shot in the fifth, added an error-aided two-run lineout in the seventh, then hit an RBI-groundout in the eighth inning.

There was a lot of wind. I got it pretty good, but it was only worth one run. - Colbrunn, downplaying his tape-measure home run.

On June 11th, Colbrunn hit a single in the second, hit a double and scored in the fourth, walked in the sixth, and added a double in the eigth inning of a 3-2 Florida loss to Montreal.

It’s ridiculous. If I pick that ball he’s out of the inning. It’s not that tough to pick, but it just hit the dirt and bounced straight up. - Colbrunn, speaking about the play that may have cost Kevin Brown a victory. Brown was 4-5 with an NL leading 2.14 ERA at the time.

On September 17th, in an 11-5 Marlins win over the Phillies, Colbrunn hit an RBI-single in the second and a two-run homer in the fifth. Two months later, the Marlins granted his free agency.

Colbrunn played eight more major league seasons after his time with Florida. He spent time with the Minnesota Twins (70 games, .281/.307/.415/.722, five homers, 26 RBI), the Colorado Rockies (62 games, .311/.359/.459/.818, two homers, 13 RBI), the Atlanta Braves (56 games, .286/.340/.439/.778, three homers, 19 RBI), the Arizona Diamondbacks (334 games, .310/.384/.527/.911, 34 home runs, 127 RBI), and the Seattle Mariners (22 games, .276/.323/.483/.805, three home runs, seven RBI).

After his playing days concluded with the end of the 2004 season, Colbrunn joined the New York Yankees coaching ranks, serving as a single-A hitting instructor with the Charleston RiverDogs. Since then, he made his way up to the Boston Red Sox as their primary batting instructor before stepping down in the middle of the 2014 campaign. He’s currently back with the RiverDogs as their batting coach.