Those of us who have watched baseball in the past 20 years know the name Mark Buehrle.
A celebrated career which saw the soft-tossing lefty hurl 2 no-hitters—one of which being a perfect game—earn 5 AL All-Star selections, win 214 games, a World Series title, and finish with 59.1 rWAR, Buehrle ‘get it and pitch’ approach was refreshing in an era when the three hour game was becoming more commonplace.
Now, as 2021 is above the horizon, Buehrle, for first time, will see his name on a Hall of Fame ballot, and though he may not get in, he will always be remembered fondly among fans and those within the sport.
The fondness for Buehrle extended to each of his stays with the White Sox, Marlins, and Blue Jays, and though his tenure in Miami was brief, Buehrle was among the lone feel-good stories in a 2012 season filled with high expectations.
Buehrle’s journey with the Marlins started on December 7, 2011 when the veteran left-hander agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal after 12 seasons on the South Side of Chicago. He, along with José Reyes, Heath Bell, and the hiring of Buehrle’s longtime manager with the White Sox, Ozzie Guillén, highlighted an offseason that led many in Miami to be optimistic headed into a new stadium.
What transpired once the ‘Florida’ was dropped and the ‘Miami’ was adopted was a season personified by disaster. When all was said and done, the newly dubbed ‘Miami Marlins’ would finish 69-93, last in the NL East.
Come November, manager Guillén would be fired, and pair of Reyes and Buehrle, along with veteran rotation stalwart Josh Johnson, would find themselves shipped off to Toronto in that offseason’s blockbuster trade.
Amidst all of the chaos that 2012 brought, the season was not without its share of highlights.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton hit 37 home runs en route to his first All-Star selection, and Jose Reyes performed to a modest 109 OPS+ in his lone year in Miami, though a far cry from his banner 2011 campaign.
As for Buehrle, his lone season in Miami personified the consistency he displayed throughout his career.
2012 marked Buerhle’s twelfth consecutive year of 200-plus innings pitched, a mark that would extend to fourteen years through the 2014 season. The season also saw Buehrle allow fewer hits than innings pitched for the first time since 2002.
Buehrle’s 3.5 WAR ranked second among Marlins’ pitchers, trailing only Josh Johnson’s 3.7. His 3.74 ERA and 109 ERA+ paced all Marlins’ starters. In his 31 starts, Buehrle pitched 7 or more innings 15 times, highlighted by a complete game victory May 5th against the San Diego Padres.
Defensively, 2012 was Buehrle’s finest season, with the back-flip tossing wizard amassing 12 defensive runs saved to the tune of a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. His efforts would be rewarded with his fourth consecutive Gold Glove award.
So, while his tenure with Miami didn’t last as long most would’ve wanted, including Buehrle himself, we remember him fondly for the silver lining he provided us in a year filled with promise.