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All-Time Marlins Top 100: #23 Carl Pavano

Marlins v Mets Photo by Bernie Nunez/Getty Images

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, Carl Anthony Pavano, has earned a mark of 8.1 while with the team.

Pavano was a 6’5”, 265 lb. right-handed pitcher from New Britain, Connecticut. Born on January 8th, 1976, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 13th round of the 1994 MLB Amateur Draft, with the 355th overall selection. Of the four future major leaguers in the round, Pavano (16.9) had the highest WAR, followed by shortstop Ryan Freel (8.8). After four seasons of minor league play, the Sox traded him with a PTBNL (Tony Armas) to the Montreal Expos for Pedro Martinez.

Pavano played five seasons with the Expos, making 78 starts overall and posting a 24-35 record, a 4.83 ERA, a 4.58 FIP, a 1.440 WHIP, and 304 whiffs in 452.2 innings. Prior to the 2002 trade deadline, Montreal traded him with a PTBNL (Don Levinski), Graeme Lloyd, Mike Moredecai, and Justin Wayne to the Marlins for Cliff Floyd, Wilton Guerrero, Claudio Vargas, and cash.

Pavano made eight starts for the Marlins for the remainder of the 2002 campaign, and came out of the bullpen an additional 14 times. He posted a 3-2 record, striking out 41 in 61.2 innings, with a 3.79 ERA, a 3.51 FIP, and a 1.459 WHIP. His best performance was on July 25th, when he relieved a struggling Brad Penny with one out and two on in the fifth, then pitched 2.2 perfect innings, whiffing five Expos in a 3-2 victory.

Looking at the underlying figures and what we know about success in baseball, we can make a correlation between rotation stability and an overall winning ballclub. All five of Miami’s starters through their second World Series Championship season started over 23 games, and Pavano started a team-best 32. He went 12-13 with a 4.30 ERA, a 3.77 FIP (which indicates he was better than his ERA would suggest), a 1.259 WHIP, and 133 K’s over a team-high 201.0 innings.

On April 17th, Pavano pitched six shutout innings, striking out five and allowing only two hits in a 7-3 Marlins win against the Philadelphia Phillies. He struck out four and allowed four hits in seven innings on May 16th, earning a no-decision in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. 10 days later, he went the distance, allowing just one run on five hits, with five strikeouts in a 5-1 win against Montreal. On June 6th, he limited the Anaheim Angels to three hits and whiffed six over eight innings for a 4-1 Marlins win. On July 22nd, he went the distance for the second time that season, keeping the Expos to just five hits and earning a 9-1 victory. He struck out a season-high 10 batters in yet another win against Montreal on August 30th, allowing two runs on six hits over eight innings in a 4-3 victory. In the six games described in this paragraph, Pavano gave up a TOTAL of three bases on balls.

The Marlins’ postseason run would see Pavano start twice and appear eight times overall, and allow only three runs and a 1.04 WHIP over 19.1 innings of work. He went up against Roger Clemens in his only World Series start, bettering the veteran by allowing just one run in eight innings (Clemens allowed three in seven) and striking out four in an eventual 12-inning, 4-3 Marlins win in Game Four.

Pavano turned out to be the ace of the 2004 rotation, which was loaded with the likes of Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, and A.J. Burnett. He earned the only all-star selection of his career and earned enough NL Cy Young votes to finish sixth in the season-end balloting. He also had a career high 5.8 WAR for his efforts, which would see him post an 18-8 record. He had a career-best and rotation-leading 3.00 ERA, with a 3.54 FIP, a 1.174 WHIP (second on the team by .007 to Burnett), and 139 whiffs in 222.1 innings. He also hit .191 with three doubles, two home runs and six RBI.

On April 15th, Pavano pitched seven shutout innings against the Expos, giving up just three hits in a 3-0 Florida victory. On May 7th, he piloted the Marlins to a 3-1 win against the San Diego Padres by allowing one run on four hits over eight innings of work. June 10th would see him strike out seven Indians and allow just four hits over 8.2 innings, giving up a run in a 4-1 victory over Cleveland. Six days later, he made the best start of his Marlins’ career (by GameScore), striking out eight and giving up three hits in a complete game, 4-0 triumph against the Chicago White Sox. He threw his second shutout of the season on September 10th, giving up seven hits and striking out six Cubs in a 7-0 win over the North Siders. On September 25th he earned a hard-luck 1-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves, allowing just two hits and striking out four over seven innings. In the six games described in this paragraph, he again gave up just three bases on balls.

Granted free agency after the season, Pavano signed on with the New York Yankees but didn’t yield the same results for the Pinstripers that he did for the Fish. In parts of three seasons in the Big Apple, he totaled just 26 starts, going 9-8 with a 5.00 ERA, a 4.95 FIP, a 1.455 WHIP, and 75 strikeouts in 145.2 innings pitched. He later played with the Cleveland Indians for one season (21 starts, 9-8, 5.37 ERA, 4.28 FIP, 1.377 WHIP, 88 K’s in 125.2 innings) and the Minnesota Twins for four years (88 starts, 33-33, 4.32 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 1.302 WHIP, 311 K’s in 579.2 innings.

You’ve probably already voted by now, but if you haven’t, help us order the Marlins’ top 20. We ranked 100 through 21 by accumulated Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for each player while with the Marlins, but now we’ve decided to get you involved. Vote up if you think a player is too low, or vote down if you think he is too high.