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, Preston James Richard Wilson, earned 6.1 over his five seasons with Florida.
Wilson was a 6’2”, 193 lb. center fielder from Bamberg, South Carolina. Born on July 19th, 1974, he was initially selected in the first round of the 1992 amateur draft by the New York Mets, with the ninth overall selection. Also picked in that round were shortstop Derek Jeter, outfielder Johnny Damon, catcher Jason Kendall, outfielder Shannon Stewart, catcher Charles Johnson, and 17 other future major leaguers.
Wilson spent his first five professional seasons and part of his sixth in the Mets’ minor league feeder system. He made his major league debut with the Mets in May, and hit six-for-20 over eight games. On May 22nd, the Mets traded him to the Marlins with Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnell for Mike Piazza. He played in 14 games for the Marlins in September, collecting two hits in 38 plate appearances, with 13 strikeouts.
1999 would be a better representation of Wilson’s skillset. He ranked second in the NL Rookie of the Year Award race, hitting .280/.350/.502/.852 in 149 contests. He hit 26 homers with 71 RBI, stole 12 bases, and committed nine outfield errors for a .973 fielding percentage. He had 35 multibase hits through his 128 starts, including nine with three or more hits. On July 19th, he hit an RBI-double in the first, singled in the third, singled and scored in the seventh, then added a solo home run in the ninth inning of a 10-7 victory against the Boston Red Sox. On July 30th, Wilson hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth inning to take the lead in an eventual 8-7 victory over the PIttsburgh Pirates. On September 8th, in a 5-4 Marlins victory over the Dodgers, Wilson singled in the first and the eighth, then hit a game-tying solo homer in the 12th inning of a 13-inning decision over Los Angeles.
2000 would see Wilson appear in an NL-fourth 161 games for the Marlins, and hit .264/.331/.486/.817 with 35 doubles, 31 home runs, an NL-eighth 121 RBI, and an NL-sixth 36 stolen bases. He was the first member of the Marlins to enter the 30-30 club for his efforts that season, and led the Senior Circuit with a Power-Speed # of 33.3. Power-Speed is 2 x (HR x SB) / (HR + SB). He ranked second in the league with 384 center field putouts. He had 44 multi-hit games over 152 starts. On May 13th, Wilson doubled and scored in the fourth, doubled and scored in the sixth, then hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning of a 7-6 Marlins win against the New York Mets. On June 24th, he hit a solo homer in the fifth, then added a three-run homer in the eighth to help the Marlins earn a 7-4 come-from-behind victory against the Chicago Cubs. On July 9th, Wilson doubled and scored in the fourth, hit another three-run homer in the fifth, then singled and scored in the seventh inning in a wild 10-9 Marlins win over the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.
In 2001, Wilson hit .274/.331/.494/.825 in 123 games for Florida, with 30 doubles, 23 home runs, 71 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. On September 5th, Wilson singled in the third, reached on an error and scored in the eight, then hit a three-run, walkoff homer with two-out in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Cubs, 7-6.
2002 would see Wilson hit .243/.329/.429/.759 for the Fish over 141 appearances, with 22 doubles, 23 homers, 65 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. The Marlins traded him after the season with Vac Darensbourg, Charles Johnson, and Pablo Ozuna to the Colorado Rockies for Mike Hampton, Juan Pierre, and cash. Yes, Mike Hampton was a Marlin for like two days in 2002.
For the Rockies, Wilson hit .269/.333/.498/.830 over 284 games, with 57 home runs and 217 RBI. He later went on to play for the Washington Nationals (68 games, .261/.329/.443/.771, 10 home runs, 43 RBI), the Houston Astros (102 games, .269/.309/.405/.714, nine home runs, 55 RBI), and the St. Louis Cardinals (58 games, .234/.287/.423/.710, nine homers, 22 RBI). You probably already know this, but Wilson now serves with Fox Sports Florida as an analyst for Marlins broadcasting.
I’ll be writing up through number 21 in this countdown based on WAR, but YOU, dear readers, will order the top 20 based on popular vote! The list below is self explanatory. Keep checking back here as we continue the march to Opening Day, right here at Fish Stripes.