On Tuesday, the game’s biggest and brightest stars will come together at Progressive Field to celebrate one of the largest sporting events of the summer: MLB All-Star week. Specifically, the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game drive the most excitement. Through the years, several Marlins players have taken advantage of the bright spotlight and given the baseball world a greater appreciation of this franchise.
What better time is there to celebrate the history of Marlin All-Stars?
Below, we will rank the top five All-Star moments in Marlins history, ranging from the inaugural season in 1993 to now.
5. José Fernández’s All-Star Debut in the Big Apple (2013)
At just 20 years old, the late José Fernández was as dominant as a pitcher could get. With an incredible first-half ERA of 2.75 to go along with 103 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of .196, Fernández punched his ticket to the 2013 All-Star Game with ease.
By the time the All-Star Game had arrived, there was no question around the league that the product of Santa Clara, Cuba was a phenom in the making.
Fernández fully validated the hype at Citi Field, executing the quick and painless task—at least, that is the way he made it seem—of retiring a former AL MVP in Dustin Pedroia and Chris Davis, the MLB home run leader at the time. Oh, and he also got Miguel Cabrera, who won a Triple Crown the previous season, to pop out.
While only tossing one inning that night, Fernández not only impressed the Marlins, but all of Major League Baseball. It has a strong case as the greatest All-Star Game pitching performance in Marlins history.
4. Justin Bour Steals Show at Home Run Derby (2017)
During the first-ever MLB All-Star week hosted in South Florida, Justin Bour was one of three Marlins representatives. While he wasn’t voted in to make his first All-Star Game appearance in front of his home crowd, Bour earned a spot in the Home Run Derby lineup along with fellow teammate Giancarlo Stanton.
Despite being a Marlin himself, the audience at Marlins Park was unanimously cheering for a back-to-back Home Run Derby victory for Giancarlo Stanton, who won the contest the previous year in San Diego (more on that later). However, when Giancarlo fell short of Gary Sánchez’s 17-home run performance and was eliminated in the first round, all eyes were on Justin Bour to avenge his teammate.
To say Bour impressed would be a ridiculous understatement. He stole the show with a combination of slugging prowess and hilarious antics. Whether he was stuffing donuts into his face during timeouts or mashing a stream of consecutive dingers into the home run porch in right field, Bour lit up Marlins Park in a way never seen before.
Ultimately, Bour’s home run heroics would not advance beyond the first round, either. Another Yankee, Aaron Judge, clubbed 23 homers to eliminate Bour early on in the derby.
Nevertheless, Bour still posted the second-best round of the entire night. To this day, it is arguably one of the most entertaining Home Run Derby rounds not only in Marlins history, but in the entire history of the contest.
3. Gary Sheffield Homers in Marlins’ First All-Star Game At-Bat (1993)
For this All-Star moment, let’s turn back the clock to the inaugural season in 1993. Moment No. 3 belongs to Gary Sheffield, who struck a two-run homer in the first at-bat ever by a Marlin during the All-Star Game.
Despite playing the majority of the first half of the 1993 season with the San Diego Padres, Sheffield was traded to the Marlins three weeks prior to the beginning of All-Star festivities. He represented his current team at the game, and did them proud.
In addition to being the first player on a first-year expansion team to be voted into the starting lineup of the All-Star Game, Sheffield’s victory was among the few bright spots for the NL—they lost 9-3 with Sheffield’s home run serving as the primary offensive punch.
2. Jeff Conine Wins All-Star Game MVP Award (1995)
Jeff Conine’s go-ahead, pinch-hit home run during the 1995 All-Star that proved to be the difference in a pitchers’ duel. The NL narrowly escaped with the win, 3-2.
Because of his game-changing performance, Conine was awarded the All-Star Game MVP award, further promoting attention on the ball club established just two-and-a-half years earlier.
Special as it was, that would prove to be the only All-Star at-bat of Conine’s 17-year-long career. At least he made it a significant memory both for the Marlins as an organization and for Mr. Marlin himself.
1. Giancarlo Stanton Sets All-Time Derby Record (2016)
Easily one of the greatest moments in all of Marlins history was the absolute clinic that former Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton put on during the 2016 Home Run Derby. While Petco Park wasn’t holding many Fish fans that night, the California native was playing at “home,” and it sure felt like it.
Finding limited success in his previous Home Run Derby appearance in 2014, Stanton came back with a vengeance and took everybody’s breath away. Breezing through each of his opponents, Stanton made quick work of Robinson Cano in the first round, winning by a score of 24-7. He proceeded to escape Mark Trumbo’s in the semi-finals, 17-14, and defeat Todd Frazier—the defending champion—by topping Frazier’s final round total of 13 home runs with 20 of his own.
Stanton’s average home run distance was 446 feet, his average exit velocity was 111.9 miles per hour, and the 20 farthest-hit home runs among all of the derby’s participants all fell under Stanton’s name.
Impressively enough, Stanton managed to break the single-derby home run record with 61 moonshots. He still holds the lead to this day with six more than Kyle Schwarber, who hit 55 home runs during the 2018 event.
The All-Star Week has been an important showcase opportunity for several Marlins throughout the history of the franchise. There is surely more to come with an organization infused with young and talented players.
As far as the 2019 season goes, Sandy Alcantara will be representing the Fish at the MLB All-Star Game, while prospects right-hander Sixto Sánchez and second baseman Isan Diaz are playing in the All-Star Futures Game (outfielder Monte Harrison was scratched due to a wrist injury). Will they be able to crack this list?
Check them out on July 7 (Futures Game) and July 9 (MLB All-Star Game).