Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is recapping the Top 100 Marlins to ever appear with the franchise. Using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, all 523 players were considered, whether they played for the Florida or Miami version of the Marlins. Today’s Marlin, Robert Allen Nen, earned a cumulative 5.0 WAR while playing for the team.
Nen, a 6’4”, 200 lb. right-hander from San Pedro, California, was born on November 28th, 1969. The Texas Rangers chose him in the 32nd round of the 1987 amateur draft with the 831st overall selection. Along with The Kansas City Royals’ Jim Campbell (two games, 1-0, 8.38 ERA), Nen was the only selectee from the round to make it to the major leagues.
Nen made his major league debut with the Rangers in April of 1993, and appeared in nine games for Texas through the first half of the season. In 22.2 innings, he struck out 12 and went 1-1 with a 6.35 ERA and a 2.382 WHIP. On July 17th, the Rangers sent him with Kurt Miller to the Marlins for Cris Carpenter.
Nen didn’t spend any time in the minor leagues while playing for the Marlins, and joined the parent club immediately. He would appear in 15 games over the last two months of the season, going 1-0 with a 7.02 ERA, a 1.650 WHIP, and 27 whiffs in 33.1 innings. He also made the only start of his Florida career on July 25th, when he struck out eight Reds over six innings and earned a 7-3 victory, allowing just one earned run on two hits over Cincinnati. As a reliever, his best appearance of the season came on August 17th, when he pitched three perfect innings of relief, striking out two Astros in a 4-0 loss to Houston.
1994 would see Nen go 5-5 in 44 relief appearances, and make his first 15 career saves. He struck out 60 in 58.0 innings, and pitched to a 1.086 WHIP and a 2.95 ERA - no fluke, as evidenced by his 3.29 FIP. His first save came on May 18th, when he pitched two perfect innings of relief in a 4-3 win over the New York Mets, striking out two. On June 3rd, he earned a three-inning save, striking out three Astros in a 3-2 victory against Houston. He earned his fourth win of the campaign on July 24th, when he pitched 1.2 hitless innings, striking out three in a 6-4 win against the Colorado Rockies. He wound up fourth in the NL with a 2.8 WPA for his efforts that season.
Nen went 0-7 in 1995, but led the NL with 54 games finished, 23 of them saves for the 67-76 Marlins. He struck out 68 over 65.2 innings, with a 3.29 ERA, a 3.32 FIP, and a 1.294 WHIP. On June 16th, he earned a save over the Phillies by pitching 1.2 scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over Philadelphia. On August 22nd, he got his 16th save of the year by striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning of an 8-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
In 1996, Nen put together his best season to date, going 5-1 over an NL-sixth 75 games with a 1.95 ERA, a 1.060 WHIP, and a 2.06 FIP, striking out 92 in 83.0 innings. From April 28th through May 31st, he pitched 15.1 scoreless innings over 13 games, allowing just seven hits and striking out 21 batters. Between June 28th and September 25th, he was super-effective, going 2-0 with 19 saves in 38 games, striking out 45 over 41 innings with a 0.88 ERA. He saved an NL-sixth 35 games in total for the year. He earned a 1-0, 10-inning win over the San Francisco Giants on April 6th, striking out four over two flawless innings. He duplicated that statline on May 18th in a 3-2 win over the Cubs. He ranked ninth in the NL with a 3.7 WPA for the season.
1997 would be Nen’s last season with the Marlins, and would see him shut the door 35 times for the second season in a row. He went 9-3 in 73 appearances, striking out 81 in 74.0 innings, with a 3.89 ERA, a 1.514 WHIP, and a 3.77 FIP. Through the first two rounds of the postseason, he pitched 4.0 innings and allowed just an unearned run on a single hit against the Giants. He wasn’t as good against the Cleveland Indians, giving up four earned runs in 4.2 innings on eight hits and two walks. Still there was this:
After helping the Marlins to the title, Florida traded Nen to the Giants for Mick Pageler, Mike Villano, and Joe Fontenot. Nen pitched five seasons for the Giants, making the all-star team three times and earning a 24-25 record with 206 saves, a 2.43 ERA, a 1.084 WHIP, and 453 K’s in 378.1 innings. He’s still part of the Giant’s organization, attatched to the front office as a special assistant to GM Brian Sabean.