Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes will be going back over the Top 100 Marlins of all time, from their inception as the Florida Marlins in 1993 through today's incarnation as the Miami Marlins. I used the WAR metric to order all potential members of the list. Today's Marlin, Mark Steven Kotsay, earned a mark of 6.8 while with the team.
Kotsay, a 6’, 220 lb. outfielder from Whittier, California, was born on December 2nd, 1975. A CSU-Fullerton alum, the Marlins chose him in the first round of the 1996 MLB amateur draft, with the ninth overall selection. Although 23 players selected in that round eventually played in the Major Leagues, only two earned a career WAR higher than that of Kotsay (21.5), Eric Chavez (37.4) and R.A. Dickey (21.7).
Kotsay, who due to his rocket fire arm and consistency in nailing runners from right field was affectionately nicknamed “Human Toaster,” made his major league debut with the Marlins in July, and collected hits in each of his first five games. He eventually hit 10-for-52 over 14 contests that month, with a double, a triple, and four RBI, The Marlins went 7-7 in the games he appeared in, and you probably already know, they did just fine without him in the lineup.
After Florida’s first World Championship run, and the subsequent infamous fire sale, Kotsay joined the Marlins at the parent club level in 1998. The eventual 54-108 club was led by 154 games from Kotsay, who hit .279/.318/.403/.721 with an NL eighth seven triples, 11 home runs, 68 RBI, and 10 stolen bases. He had 42 multi-hit games through the season, including 13 games with three or more hits. His 2.1 dWAR ranked third in the NL. On June 22nd, he hit four singles and a double in a 3-2, 12-inning victory over the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays. The next night he went three-for-four with two singles, a solo homer, and three RBI in total as the Marlins dropped a 6-4 decision against the Rays. On September 8th, he hit a single, a triple, and a homer for four RBI in a wild, back and forth 11-10 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
The Marlins went 64-98 in 1999, with Kotsay in the mix for 148 games. He hit .271/.306/.402/.708 with 23 doubles, an NL fifth nine triples, and eight home runs, with 50 RBI. He had 36 multi-hit games, with seven three-hit affairs. He ranked third in the NL with nine sacrifice flies, and led the league with 19 assists from the outfield. On April 20th, he went three-for-three with a double, two runs, and two RBI in a 7-2 victory against the San Francisco Giants.
2000 would see the Marlins improve by 15 more games in the win column, to a final mark of 79-82. Kotsay ranked third on the team with 152 appearances. He hit a then-career best .298/.347/.443/.791 with 31 doubles, 12 round-trippers, 57 RBI, and 19 stolen bases. He collected 47 multi-hit games, with nine contests of three or more. He was the big hero on June 21st in a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, when he hit a single in the first, a single in the fourth, a single while scoring a run in the sixth, and a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh.
The funny thing, when I got home [Tuesday] night, Grandma left a message on my phone. Grandma said, `You haven't hit one in a while, why don't you hit one for Grams?' I got the ball to give to her. - Kotsay, after the game
After 2001’s Spring Training, the Marlins traded Kotsay with Cesar Crespo to the San Diego Padres for Omar Ortiz, Matt Clement, and Eric Owens. After three seasons with the Padres (400 games, .283/.355/.426/.782, 34 home runs, 157 RBI, 30 stolen bases), he went on to appear with the Oakland Athletics (472 games, .282/.336/.410/.747, 38 home runs, 224 RBI, 20 stolen bases), the Atlanta Braves (88 games, .289/.340/.418/.758, six home runs, 37 RBI), the Boston Red Sox (49 games, .241/.288/.335/.624, one home run, 17 RBI), the Chicago White Sox (147 games, .252/.318/.391/.708, 11 home runs, 49 RBI), the Milwaukee Brewers (104 games, .270/.329/.373/.703, three home runs, 31 RBI), and two more seasons with the Padres (186 games, .225/.282/.289/.571, three home runs, 26 RBI). After serving as a front office special assistant in San Diego in 2014, Kotsay spent 2015 as the Padres hitting coach and 2016 as the Athletics bench coach.
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.