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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 97

Hall-of-Fame catcher Iván Rodríguez heads up the latest chapter of our ongoing All-Time Countdown.

Marlins v Yankees Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Florida and Miami Marlins have employed a total of 630 players in a regular season game through their first 28 seasons.

The All-Time Marlins Countdown is rehashing each of them. We’ve already looked at 498 of them, and there’s only 132 to go. This series will continue daily until Opening Day eve, March 31.

The players are first sorted into brackets defined by the amount of batters faced and/or plate appearances they totaled with the team. We’re currently at the top edge of the group that totaled between 250-and-799 BF/PA with the club. The three players featured today all finished well-above replacement level, according to Baseball Reference.

132. Matt Turner

Matt Turner was a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher from Lexington, Kentucky. In 1986, at the age of 19, the Atlanta Braves signed him through free agency out of Middle Georgia University.

Although Turner was never considered a top prospect, he did put up some impressive stats on his rise through the minors. He ranked third in the South Atlantic League in 1987 for the Sumter Braves by striking out 9.80 per nine innings. In 1989, while pitching for the Durham Bulls, he ranked seventh in the Carolina League with a 2.44 ERA and with 7.25 H/9 and eighth with 114 strikeouts and 8.69 K/9. His strikeout total is all the more impressive considering that Turner only started in three of his 53 appearances.

At the 1991 trade deadline, the Braves traded Turner with PTBNL Earl Sanders to the Houston Astros for Jim Clancy. He never got to the majors for them, remaining with the Triple-A Tucson Toros for the year-and-a-half he was with the franchise.

After being granted free agency following 1992, Turner signed a contract with the expansion version of the Florida Marlins. He ranked fourth on the team with 55 games pitched and second with 26 games finished. His 1.19 WHIP ranked second to closer Bryan Harvey’s ridiculous 0.841. In modern parlance, Turner was an excellent eight-inning setup man.

Through the campaign, Turner was 4-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 59 whiffs in 68 innings. He plated 62 percent of his 906 pitches through the season, and stranded 26-of-40 baserunners. Opponents slashed .227/.300/.364. He had his most positively impactful game of the season on August 10 against the Chicago Cubs. He came into the game with one out and runners on first and second in a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth, then got Dwight Smith on a pop up and Sammy Sosa on a line-out. He went on to pitch two more perfect innings in an eventual 3-2, 15-inning Marlins victory.

Just before the 1994 season got underway, the Marlins traded Turner to the Cleveland Indians for Jeremy Hernandez. Through nine games with the Tribe, he posted a 2.13 ERA, going 1-0 with his first career save. Unfortunately, it was the last time he would pitch in the majors. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of cancer which in Turner’s case was considered treatable.

Although Turner did beat the illness initially, and in several subsequent recurrences, he eventually succumbed to the disease on January 27, 2019.

131. Iván Rodríguez

Iván Rodríguez is a right-handed catcher from Manati, Puerto Rico. A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, he started his professional career after signing with the Texas Rangers in 1988 at the age of 16.

Rodríguez, who went by “Pudge,” stood five-foot-nine and weighed 205 lbs. He played the first 12 seasons of his major league career with the Rangers, and made the All Star team 10 times during that stretch. He also won 10 Gold Gloves and six Silver Slugger awards with Texas, and was the American League Most Valuable Player in 1999. Before joining the Marlins for the 2003 season, he had slashed .305/.342/.489 with 215 home runs, 80 stolen bases, and 829 RBI in 1479 contests. In 2001, he threw out an incredible 60 percent of base stealers, nabbing 35-of-58.

In January, 2003, Rodríguez signed a one-year deal for $10 million. Through the regular season, he ranked sixth on the team with 144 games played, and led the club with 4.5 bWAR. He slashed .297/.369/.474 with 36 doubles, three triples, and 16 home runs with 85 RBI. He also stole 10 bases, and drew a career-best 55 walks. Forty-five times through the season he collected multiple hits, including 13 instances of three or more.

On April 5, he drew a walk in the first, hit a leadoff homer in the sixth to tie the New York Mets at one run each, drew another walk in the seventh, and drove home the winning run with a single in the bottom of the ninth to take a 3-2 victory. On July 13, Rodríguez went four-for-four with three doubles and five RBI in an 11-4 victory over the Montreal Expos. Defensively, Rodríguez fielded at the National League average (.992), while throwing out 20-of-60 runners trying to steal.

In 17 postseason games, Rodríguez went 21-for-67 with five doubles, three homers, and 17 RBI, helping lead Florida to their second World Series title in their 11th season of operation. In the Marlins’ seven-game NLCS win over the Chicago Cubs, he went nine-for-28 with two doubles, two homers, and 10 RBI, and was named the series MVP.

The Marlins didn’t pursue Rodríguez for an encore performance, unfortunately. He played another eight major league seasons, for the Detroit Tigers, the New York Yankees, the Houston Astros, the Rangers (again), and the Washington Nationals. In 2,543 career games, he retired with a .296/.334/.464 slashline over 21 seasons, with 311 homers, 1332 RBI, and 46 percent of runners trying to steal.

130. Todd Jones

Todd Jones is a six-foot-three right-handed relief pitcher from Marietta, Georgia. In 1986, the New York Mets chose him in round 41. After striking out 83 in 73 13 innings for Jacksonville State University in 1989, the Houston Astros selected him in the first round, 27th overall off the board.

Jones appeared in 982 contests over the course of his major league career, coming out of the bullpen in every game but one. He got to the majors four years after he was drafted, and played four seasons for the Astros at the top level. He later played for the Detroit Tigers, the Minnesota Twins, the Colorado Rockies, the Boston Red Sox, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Philadelphia Phillies.

In 2005, Jones joined Florida for his age-37 season. He pitched in 73 games, and saved a career-second-best 40 games, going 1-5 with a career-best 2.10 ERA and a career-best 1.03 WHIP. Jones struck out 62 while issuing only 14 bases-on-balls through the season, including two intentional.

Florida Marlins v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jones put 67 percent of his pitches in the strike-zone, stranded 82 percent of inherited runners, and held opponents to a .230/.276/.283 slashline. From July 19 through September 13, he allowed one run in 25 13 innings, striking out 22 and walking one batter while saving a game in 23 straight appearances.

Jones’ 3.0 bWAR earned with the Marlins was the best such mark of his career, including his lone All Star season of 2000. After his only year with Florida, he played another three major league seasons with the Tigers. He retired with a 58-63 career record, a 3.97 ERA, and 319 career saves.