Throughout the 2020-21 offseason, we’re going over all 630 players to have appeared for the Florida and Miami Marlins in a regular season game through their first 28 seasons.
Players are first sorted into brackets defined by plate transactions—that is, plate appearances and/or batters faced. We’re currently in the bracket between 250-and-799 PA/BF.
After the preliminary sorting, players are further ordered by ascending bWAR divided by PA/BF. Today’s group of three all came in well above replacement level during their time with the Marlins.
147. Bruce Aven
Bruce Aven is a five-foot-nine right-handed outfielder from Orange, Texas. In 1993, he was named to the Sun-Belt Conference All-Conference Team. When the 1994 draft came around, the Cleveland Indians chose him in the 30th round out of Lamar University.
After signing, Aven was sent to the Low-A Watertown Indians, and in 61 games slashed out a .332/.409/.509 line with five homers and 33 RBI. He continued to rise through the minors for Cleveland through the next few seasons, and in 1997 slashed .287/.371/.481 with 17 home runs and 77 RBI at the Triple-A level for the Buffalo Bisons. For his efforts, he was named to the American Association All-Star Team.
Aven also made his major league debut for the Indians at the tail-end of the season. In 13 games he went four-for-19. He wouldn’t get back to the majors through the 1998 campaign due mostly to an elbow ligament strain.
The good thing is I’m an outfielder and I don’t have to throw as much as a pitcher. I don’t think it’s going to hurt my career or anything. It’s just nagging right now. — Aven, to Bob DiCesare in the Buffalo News
Aven’s 1998 season was thus limited to just five games for the Bisons, during which he went three-for-15. After the season, the Marlins claimed Aven off waivers from Cleveland.
Aven made the cut for the Marlins out of 1999 Spring Training, and spent the entire season at the parent club level. Although he ultimately had a five-season major league career, over half of his 259 career appearances came for the 1999 Marlins.
With 137 games played in 1999, Aven ranked third on the Marlins. He slashed a .289/.370/.444 line with 19 doubles, two triples, 12 homers, and 70 RBI. He drew 44 walks, crossed the plate 57 times, and struck out 82 times. In 735 defensive innings in the outfield, mostly in left, Aven posted a .984 fielding percentage with four assists. He was one zone fielding run above the National League average.
Aven collected multiple hits in 24 games, including five with three or more. On May 7, he had his most impactful game of the season, going by WPA. Although Aven didn’t start, he came in to pinch hit in the seventh inning with one out and the bases loaded, with the Marlins trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2. Aven took pitcher Alan Mills deep for a grand slam, then sat back down as the Marlins won, 6-3. It was the first pinch-grand-slam in Marlins History. On June 13, Aven went four-for-five with a pair of jacks and four RBI in an 8-2 victory against the New York Yankees.
Just after the 1999 Winter Meetings, the Marlins traded Aven to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Brant Brown. After 72 games with the Bucs, Aven later played in 30 with the Dodgers and seven more for the Indians. He’s currently the manager for Miami-Dade High School’s baseball team.
146. José Reyes
José Reyes is a six-foot infielder from Santiago, Dominican Republic. A switch-hitter, Reyes signed his first professional deal in 1999 with the New York Mets, soon after his 16th birthday.
By 2003, Reyes was considered by Baseball America as the top overall prospect on the Mets, and the number three prospect overall. Although he only appeared in 69 games, he got enough votes in the National League Rookie of the Year vote to finish eighth in the race. In nine seasons with the Mets, he led the NL in hits once, plate appearances and at bats twice, stolen bases three times, and triples four times. He made four NL All Star Teams, and was the NL batting champion in 2011, with a mark of .337. His first stretch with the Mets resulted in a .292/.341/.441 slashline, 81 homers, 423 RBI, and 370 stolen bases.
On December 7, 2011, the Marlins signed Reyes to a six-year, $106 million deal, with a $22 million option for a seventh season.
As a free agent shortstop in his prime, Reyes was a rarity. The 28-year-old had one of the finest seasons of his nine-year Mets career in 2011, winning his first batting title and posting the fourth season in which he was worth about six wins above replacement. — Zach Links, MLB Trade Rumors
In his only season for the Marlins, Reyes led the club with 160 games played. Nobody else on the team played more than 123 (Giancarlo Stanton), and only four played in over 100. Reyes slashed .287/.347/.433, leading the NL with 716 plate appearances. He hit 37 doubles, 12 triples, and 11 home runs for 57 RBI, stealing 40 bases in 51 attempts. He drew 63 walks against 56 strikeouts, and crossed the plate 86 times.
Most of Reyes’ value for the Marlins lay in his offense. Defensively, Reyes put up a .973 fielding percentage with 18 errors at shortstop in 1410 2⁄3 innings. He was 16 runs below the average NL shortstop in DRS, and in fact was only above average in two seasons, 2006 and 2007.
Reyes finished with multiple hits 50 times, with 14 instances of three-or-more. On July 3, he hit an RBI-single in the seventh inning, trailing the Milwaukee Brewers, 9-3. In the eighth inning, with the Marlins still trailing 11-10, he doubled and later scored the tying run. In the 10th, Reyes hit a go-ahead solo shot off Mets reliever Livan Hernandez to take a 12-11 lead, but Heath Bell surrendered a two-run shot in the bottom of the frame for a blown save and a loss.
On September 18, Reyes doubled in the fourth, singled in the ninth, and hit a two-out walk-off RBI-single in the bottom of the 10th inning to defeat the disgusting Atlanta Braves, 4-3.
After the season, Miami traded Reyes to the Toronto Blue Jays in an 11-player deal. He played two-and-a-half seasons with the Jays and 47 games with the Colorado Rockies. After a domestic violence incident between Reyes and his wife, MLB placed him on administrative leave for two months. He then played three more seasons back with the Mets, and has been a free agent since after the 2018 campaign.
145. Brian Sanches
Beaumont, Texas native Brian Sanches is a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher out of Lamar University. After he posted a 1.82 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in 1999, the Kansas City Royals picked him in the second round of the draft.
In 2000 with the High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks in the Carolina League, Sanches was ranked as the number 10 prospect in the system by Baseball America. He responded with a 1.27 WHIP and a 3.53 ERA in 158 innings. For the next three seasons, Sanches’ progress bogged down at the Double-A level with the Wichita Wranglers. In August 2003, the Royals traded him with minor leaguer Chris Tierney to the San Diego Padres for Rondell White. Before playing his next game, he was flipped to the Philadelphia Phillies for Mauber Lopez.
Still in the Phillies system in 2006, Sanches made his major league debut at the age of 27. In two years with the Phillies and one with the Washington Nationals, he pitched in a total of 42 games and totaled 47 innings of work. He eclipsed that total in each of his three seasons playing for Florida.
In 2009, Sanches appeared in 47 games in relief for the Marlins, ranking sixth on the team. He had a 2.56 ERA and a 1.349 WHIP, going 4-2 with 51 K’s in 56 2⁄3 innings. He also ranked sixth on the team in total brWAR, clocking in at 1.7. On August 1, he struck out six in 3 1⁄3 shutout innings of an eventual 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
After 37 games, Sanches was still sporting a 0.88 ERA going into his final 10 appearances of the season. Overall, he put 61 percent of his offerings over the plate, stranded 64 percent of his inherited baserunners, and held the opposition to a .235/.335/.352 slashline.
Sanches again proved his mettle in 2010, ranking ninth on the club with a 1.5 brWAR and third on the pitching staff with 61 games. He had a 2.26 ERA, a 1.099 WHIP, and 56 whiffs in 63 2⁄3 frames. Opponents hit .194/.281/.329 while plating 63 percent of his pitches and stranding 20-of-26 inherited runners. His 6.1 H/9 led the team by a wide margin.
On October 2, in his final game of the season, Sanches earned his second win of the year as part of a combined 2-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched the fifth and sixth innings, retiring every batter he faced and striking out three of them.
Sanches started out the 2011 season by surrendering a total of one hit over his first 13 2⁄3 innings, striking out 10, but things took a downhill turn after that. Overall, he was 4-1 with a 3.94 ERA, but his WHIP ballooned to 1.43. In 61 2⁄3 innings through 39 trips out of the pen, he struck out 53 and walked 36. He was granted free agency after the season.
Sanches pitched another six games at the major league level with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012, and allowed seven runs in 6 1⁄3 innings. A free agent since after the 2013 season, Sanches was recently speaking about how the pandemic has affected today’s baseball players.
You play for so long, all those guys have that little internal clock that goes off in them, like it’s go time right now. — Sanches, as quoted by Ashly Elam at 12newsnow.com.
Thanks for reading today. Check back tomorrow for Chapter 93, in which original Marlins reliever Luis Aquino makes an appearance.