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2021’s biggest “Marlins Killers”

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A eclectic mix of stars and random role players who made this season miserable for the Marlins.

Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) hits an RBI single against the Miami Marlins during the third inning at Nationals Park Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Every season, Miami Marlins fans get front-row seats to watch baseball’s premier talent. Problem is, those impact players are usually on the opposing teams. Their brilliance comes at the Marlins’ expense.

Here are the individuals who were most responsible for your suffering in 2021. Thanks very much to Stathead for the research assistance.

Year-Long Irritants

  • Freddie Freeman (Braves)—Freeman was already in the pantheon of top all-time Marlins Killers. This was his 12th season of head-to-head competition against the Fish, and probably his best. Freeman played in all 19 games between these NL East rivals while slashing .427/.517/.760. On August 18, he became only the third player in history to hit for the cycle against Marlins pitching.

  • Juan Soto (Nationals)—The Marlins had the misfortune of seeing a lot of Soto after the All-Star break, just as the young phenom was catching fire. He posted a Freeman-like .386/.514/.702 slash line and had more than twice as many walks (16) as strikeouts (7).
  • Vince Velasquez (Phillies)—Simply put, Velasquez was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball...except for when he faced the Marlins. He earned only three wins in 21 starts this season, with two of those coming against you know who. It was a surprising plot twist for the right-hander after he had been below average in pre-2021 matchups with Miami (4.88 ERA from 2015-2020).
  • Erick Fedde (Nationals)—The Marlins finally ruffled Fedde’s feathers on September 20. However, he definitely got the better of them overall, racking up 27 strikeouts and issuing only two walks in four starts. If the Nats decide to tender the former first-round draft pick a contract for 2022, he should donate a portion of it to the Miami Marlins Foundation.
  • Luke Jackson (Braves)—The South Florida native enjoyed a career year as Atlanta’s setup man. In 11 relief appearances against the Marlins, he didn’t allow any of his own runs (though two inherited runners scored).

Game/Series-Changers

  • Joey Wendle (Rays)—In a season full of high-leverage choke jobs by the Marlins bullpen, Wendle’s ninth-inning home run off of Anthony Bass on April 2 was particularly demoralizing. The club’s anointed closer entering the regular season, Bass would fail to record a single save in 2021.
  • Michael Conforto (Mets)—It was a generally disappointing campaign for the New York outfielder. He did, however, play a minor role in vanquishing the Marlins on a couple occasions. On April 8, he drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a controversial hit by pitch call. Then, Conforto delivered the walk-off hit to win a bizarre make-up game (completed on August 31, but dated April 11 for record-keeping purposes).

  • Max Scherzer (Nationals)—The future Hall of Famer was the only pitcher to toss a nine-inning complete game against the Fish this season when he dominated them on May 2.
  • Bo Bichette (Blue Jays)—Bichette’s bat single-handedly added 55.9% to Toronto’s win probability in the June 2 game in Buffalo, NY. The Marlins never trailed that night until Yimi García flubbed his save opportunity. Bichette contributed a two-run triple to that painful rally.
  • C.J. Cron (Rockies)—The journeyman slugger can thank Marlins pitching for gifting him National League Player of the Week honors. Cron bullied them for four home runs and 13 runs batted en route to a series sweep during the weekend of August 6-8 at Coors Field.

  • Tyler Naquin (Reds)—The Reds pulled off an ultra-rare four-game sweep thanks to Naquin’s seven extra-base hits from August 19-22.