I might end up taking a lot of flak for today’s article, but let me explain why Andy Larkin is ranked ahead of Ugueth Urbina.
Long story short: Urbina had the best brWAR output per BF/PA amongst players between 75 and 249 BF/PA. Larkin had the worst brWAR output per BF/PA amongst players between 250 and 799 BF/PA. I simply drew the line at 250. I also have lines at 20, 75, and 800. That’s why Ivan Rodriguez won’t be ranked number two on the list, but will be right at the top of the guys under 800 BF/PA.
Today’s article features the above mentioned Urbina, who was spectacular over a short period of time, plus four players who were well below replacement level for a considerably longer duration. It is what it is, let the chips fall where they may, it’s a whole new ballgame, and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. But for now, the show must go on.
280. Ugueth Urbina
Venezuelan native Ugueth Urbina, specifically from Caracas, was a right-handed pitcher who signed his first professional deal with the Montreal Expos in 1990, at the age of 16.
Urbina remained with the Expos through his rise through the minors. By 1992, he was considered their number six prospect by Baseball America. He responded in 1993 by going 10-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 16 starts for the Single-A Burlington Bees, with a 8.89 K/9 rate. Primarily a starter for the first part of his career, he made his major league debut with Montreal in 1995, and started in 17 of his 33 appearances in his first full season, 1996.
Urbina made the National League All Star Team in 1998 as a reliever, posting a 1.30 ERA and striking out 94 in 69 1⁄3 innings. He saved 125 games for them through his seven seasons with the franchise. Later, he pitched for the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers, making the American League All-Star Team in 2002.
On July 11, 2003, Texas traded Urbina to the Marlins for Will Smith, Adrian Gonzalez, and Ryan Snare. Urbina came out of the bullpen 33 times for the Marlins down the stretch, going 3-0 with a 1.41 ERA and six saves. He struck out 37 in 38 1⁄3 innings, walking 13 and allowing 23 hits for a 0.94 WHIP. Urbina held opponents to a slash of .174/.245/.273, while getting 64 percent of his 583 offerings over the plate.
Despite an eventual 14-season major league career, Urbina’s only taste of the postseason was in 2003 with the Marlins. He struck out 14 in 13 innings while only giving up eight hits and four walks. He saved four games, including October 18 in a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series. He came in with runners on the corners and two out in the eighth, striking out Jorge Posada to strand them. Despite a pair of walks in the ninth, his .356 WPA led all players.
With a second World Series Title in the bank, the Marlins elected not to pursue Urbina for a second season. He went on to play a season-and-a-half for the Detroit Tigers before ending his career with the Philadelphia Phillies through the second half of the 2005 campaign.
279. Andy Larkin
Andy Larkin is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Chelan, Washington. In 1992, the Marlins took him in round 25 out of South HS in Medford, Oregon. By 1995, Baseball America considered him the number three Marlins prospect.
In 1996, Larkin made his major league debut with the Marlins, starting for them in the final game of the season on September 29 against the Houston Astros. He held them to one run in five innings, despite walking four. He spent the following season for the Marlins with their Triple-A affiliate, the Charlotte Knights.
Larkin spent his rookie eligibility with Florida in 1998, starting in 14 of his 17 appearances. According to High Heat Stats, it was one of the worst seasons by a pitcher since the turn of the century. He allowed fewer baserunners than innings pitched on only two occasions, including his best appearance of the season, a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He started and gave up three runs on three hits over nine innings, but the Phils won, 7-6 in 12.
Outside of that, Larkin was objectively terrible. He went 3-8 with a 9.64 ERA and a 2.089 WHIP. He held opponents to a .329/.435/.531 slashline, surrendering 12 home runs in 74 2⁄3 innings. He struck out 43, but walked 55 while putting 57 percent of his pitches over the plate. At the end of August, the Marlins sent him back to the Triple-A level.
Larkin remained in the Marlins system in 1999, but didn’t get back to the majors with Florida. After he was granted free agency following that year, he did return to the bigs with the Cincinnati Reds and the Kansas City Royals in 2000.
278. Kurt Miller
Tucson, Arizona native Kurt Miller was the first round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990. Coming off the board fifth overall, Miller is a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher out of West HS.
After two seasons in the Bucs system, Miller was ranked as the number 14 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America. At the 1991 trade deadline, they sent him to the Texas Rangers for Steve Buechele. Two years after that, he was sent with Robb Nen to the Marlins for Cris Carpenter.
Miller joined the inaugural Marlins with the season in full-swing, but didn’t join the parent club that year. In nine starts for the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers, he went 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA, but also had a concerning 1.58 WHIP and more walks (34) than strikeouts (19).
Miller made his major league debut with the Marlins in 1994, starting in four games and winning one of them while posting an 8.10 ERA. He posted a 1.650 WHIP in 20 innings of work, striking out 11 batters. His best game with the parent club, by far, was on June 16. He pitched 8 2⁄3 innings against the New York Mets, striking out four and allowing four hits and one walk for a 4-2 victory (incidentally, Nen got the final out for his fourth save of the year).
After spending 1995 back at the Triple-A level with the Charlotte Knights, Miller rejoined Florida in May, 1996. His best game of the season, by WPA, was on June 19. Although the Marlins eventually lost in 15 innings to the San Francisco Giants, 7-4, Miller pitched three perfect relief innings starting in the 12th and striking out two.
The bigger picture, however, was less than rosy. He gave opponents a .313/.422/.467 slashline while plating only 56 percent of his offerings. He again walked more batters (33) than he struck out (30), while giving up a 6.80 ERA and a 1.942 WHIP.
Mostly a farmhand for the Knights in 1997, Miller allowed eight runs for the Marlins in 7 1⁄3 big league innings. Although he wasn’t with the team for their postseason run, he was still a part of the organization when they won their title from the Cleveland Indians. After the season, Florida sent him to the Chicago Cubs as part of a conditional deal.
Over the next two seasons, Miller made seven more major league appearances with the North-Siders. After the 1999 campaign, he didn’t appear at any level of affiliated baseball.
277. Darrell Whitmore
Darrell Whitmore is a six-foot-one outfielder from Front Royal, Virginia. The Toronto Blue Jays really wanted him out of high school, drafting him in the 10th round in 1987 then again in the 58th round the following year out of West Virginia University. Whitmore instead continued his studies, and hit .386 with a .757 slugging percentage with 10 homers and 54 RBI in 1990. The Cleveland Indians then drafted him in the second round.
In November, 1992, the Marlins chose Whitmore with the 16th pick of the expansion draft and sent him to the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers to start the season. After 73 games, he had put together a .355/.399/.557 slashline, and the Marlins called him to the majors in late-June.
Whitmore had 10 multi-hit games in the 76 contests he appeared in with Florida in 1993. He went 51-for-250 overall, with eight doubles, a pair of triples, and four home runs with 19 RBI. He drew 10 walks and struck out 72 times, a 26.97 whiff rate.
Over the next two seasons, Whitmore only appeared in another 36 contests for the Marlins at the parent club level, going 16-for-80 with three doubles and one more homer. After spending the entire 1996 season in the minors with Charlotte, Whitmore went on to appear with several other organizations, but never at the major league level. He appeared with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Cincinnati Reds, and the St. Louis Cardinals before going the independent league route with the Long Island Ducks in 2002.
276. Justin Wayne
Honolulu native Justin Wayne is a right-handed pitcher who went in round nine to the Boston Red Sox in 1997 out of high school. Bound instead to Stanford University, Wayne improved his draft stock considerably with a ridiculous 15-4 collegiate record in 2000, with 153 whiffs in 143 frames. The Expos were impressed enough to spend the fifth overall selection on him.
In mid-2002, Wayne had already advanced to the Double-A level when Montreal dealt him to the Marlins in an eight player deal. Carl Pavano also joined Florida in the transaction, although they lost Cliff Floyd. Win some, lose some, right?
In September of that year, the Marlins called Wayne up to join the rotation through the final month of the campaign. He made five starts, putting up a 5.32 ERA and striking out 16 in 23 2⁄3 innings. Going by both WPA and by GameScore, his best outing of the month was on September 10 in a 2-1 victory against the Phillies. He pitched 6 1⁄3 shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out four.
Wayne rejoined the rotation in April 2003 for two starts. After dropping his first decision, 7-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, he faced the Houston Astros on May 3, failing to record a single out before getting pulled. He took the loss in that one as well, and was remanded to Florida’s Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes for the balance of the season.
In 2004, the Marlins decided to try Wayne out of the bullpen. He came on in relief in 18 of his 19 appearances that year, mostly in April and May.
Wayne pitched to a 5.79 ERA and struck out 20 in 32 2⁄3 innings. He also walked 18 and surrendered 35 hits, including six home runs, for a 1.622 WHIP. It didn’t start out that badly, though. In his first 12 innings of the season, over six appearances, Wayne kept the opposition scoreless, allowing only three walks and three hits. The “damage” all came later, as his ERA over the rest of his time was above a run-per-inning, with a WHIP north of two.
Wayne tried to get back to the majors later with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Kansas City Royals, but never again graduated to baseball’s top level.