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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 78

Jim Eisenreich heads up today’s group of four Marlins on the long road to number one.

Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

Through the current offseason, we’re taking a moment to appreciate all the players to make an appearance for the Marlins.

There have been 630 in total over their first 28 seasons of play, first as the Florida Marlins then later as the Miami Marlins. I sorted all of them first into brackets based on plate appearance transactions—that is PA and/or BF. We’re currently just past halfway through the 250-through-799 BF/PA bracket. Players were then further sorted by order of ascending brWAR divided by PA/BF. Today’s group were/are all slightly above replacement level during their time with the Marlins.

202. Harold Ramírez

Harold Ramirez is a five-foot-10, right-handed outfielder from Cartagena, Colombia. In 2011, he signed his first professional deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates while still at the tender age of 16.

Before he made his way to the major leagues, Ramírez rose through the ranks of rated prospects, peaking as the number 95 overall prospect in 2016, as graded by Baseball America. He was traded by the Bucs to the Toronto Blue Jays for Drew Hutchison near midseason that year. Granted free agency following the 2018 season without having tasted the big leagues, the Marlins plucked him out of free agency.

Ramírez started out the 2019 season by slashing .355/.408/.591 in 31 games for the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes, and got called up by the Marlins on May 11. Although he didn’t know it for sure at the time, it was the only roster movement of the season for Harold, who appeared in a club-sixth 119 games for the Marlins through the balance of the season.

Ramírez slashed .276/.312/.416 for the Marlins, with 20 doubles, three triples, and 11 home runs with a team-fourth-tying 50 RBI. The Marlins went 11-51 without Ramírez starting through the season, versus a 43-57 mark with him on the lineup card. That’s a winning percentage of .430 to .177.

Fish Stripes original GIF

Soon after joining the Marlins, Ramírez put together a 10-game hitting streak from May 21 through May 30. He hit .450 during the stretch, with three doubles, a homer, and five RBI. On August 1, Ramírez hit a game-tying RBI-triple in the second inning against the Twins. Ten innings later, with the score tied at four, he hit a leadoff home run in the 12th inning for a 5-4 Marlins victory.

Coronavirus and a hamstring problem limited Ramírez to three games in 2020, during which he was two-for-10 from the plate. Currently still a part of the Marlins’ 40-man roster, Ramírez is expected to complete for an opening day roster spot, if not a start.

201. Tommy Phelps

Tommy Phelps is a six-foot-three left-handed pitcher and a native of Seoul, South Korea. In 1992, the Montreal Expos chose him in the eighth round out of TR Robinson HS, in Tampa, Florida.

Never considered a rated prospect, Phelps took a very long road to the major leagues. He played in the Expos system or seven seasons, then played a pair of years for the Detroit Tigers farm system. Prior to the 2002 campaign, Phelps signed with the Marlins through free agency.

In Phelps’ 10th professional season, he spent the entire year coming out of the Marlins Triple-A farm clubs’ bullpen, the Calgary Cannons. He came in 51 times and pitched 74 13 innings, striking out 62 and holding down a decent if unspectacular 1.30 WHIP. Finally, in 2003, he got to the major leagues.

Reds v Marlins Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Phelps started in seven of his 27 appearances through his first major league season. He struck out 43 in 63 innings, but only walked 23 for a solid 3.3 BB/9 rate. Opponents managed a 1.476 WHIP against him, as he surrendered a .282/.345/.387 slash line. He got 61 percent of his pitches over the plate, and only allowed two-of-13 inherited baserunners to score.

Without a doubt, Phelps best appearance of the season was on June 19, when he pitched seven shutout innings versus the Mets, striking out six and allowing only three hits in an eventual 5-1 victory over New York City’s second favorite ball team. Despite his occasional heroics, Phelps was not a part of the Marlins postseason roster.

Phelps started in four of his 19 appearances for Florida in 2004, going 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA and 28 whiffs in 34 frames. He walked a dozen, and lowered his WHIP to 1.353. The opposition slashed .268/.326/.488 against him, as he put 62 percent of his offerings in the strike zone.

Granted free agency following the year, Phelps signed with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005. He pitched in another 29 major league games for them, all out of the bullpen. Once retired, he went into coaching, and has been a minor league pitching coach for the past dozen seasons, the last five with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in the International League for the New York Yankees.

200. Plácido Polanco

Infielder Plácido Polanco is a five-foot-nine native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In 1993, the Chicago White Sox took him in the 49th round of the draft, out of Miami-Dade College. Twenty years later, he played his last professional season for the Miami Marlins at the age of 37.

Before getting to the Marlins part of his career, Polanco played at the major league level for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Detroit Tigers. After turning 30, he was a three-time Gold Glover at second base, a two-time All Star, and the 2007 American League Silver Slugger, also at second base. In 1,809 games, he hit .299/.344/.403 with 103 home runs and 700 RBI.

On December 20, 2012, Polanco signed with the Marlins through free agency, on a one-year, $2.75 million deal. The 2013 campaign, during which the Marlins struggled to put up a 62-100 record, would see Polanco rank third on the team with 118 games played, mostly at third base. He went 98-for-377 overall, with 13 doubles, one homer, and 23 RBI. He drew 23 walks and only struck out 31 times, just under 7.5 percent of the time.

Defensively, Polanco appeared 109 times at the hot corner, without making a defensive appearance anywhere else. In 849 23 innings, he made a grand total of two errors, putting up a .990 fielding percentage and providing above average defense until his final major league game.

Twenty-three times during his final season, Polanco put up a multi-hit game, including six instances with three hits. On June 26, he registered his highest WPA of the campaign. Trailing the Twins, 3-0 in the third, he hit a leadoff single and scored. In the sixth, with the score tied at three, he launched his only home run of the season, a two-run shot that also brought home Logan Morrison for a 5-3 lead and the eventual margin of victory. Following the season, Polanco declared free agency, but didn’t announce his retirement until August of 2016.

199. Jim Eisenreich

Lefty outfielder Jim Eisenreich was nearing the end of his 15-season major league career when he joined Florida for their 1997 campaign. Originally a 16th round choice of the Minnesota Twins in 1980, Eisenreich reached the majors for the Twins by 1982.

In parts of three major league seasons with Minnesota, Eisenreich hit .283/.348/.384 in 48 contests. He didn’t play anywhere in 1985 and 1986, when he went on the voluntary retired list to undergo treatment for Tourette’s Syndrome. He returned to the majors in 1987 with the Kansas City Royals.

Eisenreich played in 650 games over six seasons with the Royals, followed by 499 in four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. In the 10 post-treatment, pre-Marlins seasons, Eisenreich hit .296/.345/.416 with 47 homers, 418 RBI, and 97 stolen bases. In 1990, he was the first recipient of the Tony Conigliaro Award, given to a player who has overcome a significant life obstacle.

After completing the 1996 season, Eisenreich signed with the Marlins through free agency. As a 38-year-old outfielder, Eisenreich ranked seventh on the eventual World Champions with 120 appearances. He was 82-for-293 overall with 19 doubles, one triple, two homers, and 34 RBI. He drew 30 walks and only struck out 29 times, scoring 36 runs. Defensively, he played 385 23 innings in the outfield, and put up a .987 fielding percentage. In 159 innings at first base, he put up a mark of .993.

Not a significant part of the NLDS or the NLCS, Eisenreich went four-for-eight with three walks, a home run, and three RBI in five games of the Marlins seven-game World Series Championship series against the Cleveland Indians.

In 1998, Eisenreich went 16-for-64 in 30 games for the Marlins, with a double and his last major league home run and seven RBI. He also stole two bases without getting caught. On May 14, the Marlins traded him with Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile. He hit .197 in 75 contests for the Dodgers to close out his career. In 2009, he was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals.

Check back tomorrow for four more Marlins on the road to the top, including Jarlin García and Bryan Holaday.