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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 118

The Marlins All-Time leader in a very special category is featured in today’s countdown.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Florida and Miami Marlins have used a total of 630 players at the major league level through their first 28 seasons of play.

Today, we break ground on the 118th chapter of our comprehensive every-Marlins series. We’ve already looked at 559 of them, and we only have 71 to go. This series will continue through Opening Day’s Eve. Players are ordered by ascending bWAR divided by PA/BF while with the Marlins. Each of today’s players finished a good amount above replacement level.

71. Derek Dietrich

Derek Dietrich is a lefty batting, righty throwing utility player from Cleveland, Ohio. In 2007, the Houston Astros chose him in the third round of the draft out of high school. Dietrich instead went to Georgia Tech for three seasons of Division 1 baseball. In 182 games for the Yellowjackets, Dietrich hit .331/.432/.586 with 41 home runs and 181 RBI. He also stole 43 bases in 46 attempts through his collegiate career. In 2010, he went in the second round to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Dietrich played three seasons in the minors for the Rays. After the 2012 campaign, the Rays sent him to the Marlins for Yunel Escobar.

Dietrich was a nice tool to have in the box, in that he could be entrusted with second base, third base, or left field. Although he wasn’t a rock star at any of those positions, he was more than passable and not really that much of a liability.

Dietrich had a very specific skill that he used to boost his OBP, and is the all-time Marlins leader with 93 HBP. He actually led the National League with 24 in 2016. He could also hit. In 608 games, he hit .254/.335/.422 with 60 home runs and 204 RBI.

One of those RBI came on July 31, 2016. Dietrich was called on to pinch hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a runner on first in a 4-4 tie with the St. Louis Cardinals. Dietrich then hit a walk-off RBI-triple (see video).

On July 20, 2018, Dietrich hit a solo home run in the third inning, singled and stole second in the fifth (he only stole five bases in six years with Miami), and added a three-run home run in the seventh as the Marlins defeated the Rays, 6-5.

Dietrich departed the Marlins via free agency prior to the 2019 season, and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. Prior to going on the injured list in the middle of the campaign, Dietrich found himself amongst the National League leaders in home runs. In the end, he slashed .187/.328/.462 in 113 games. He played the 2020 season with the Texas Rangers, and hit .197/.347/.459 in 25 games. Currently a free agent, look for Dietrich to sign with someone in the next few weeks.

70. Brad Penny

Brad Penny is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Blackwell, Oklahoma. In 1996, he was a fifth-round choice in the draft out of high school, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. After opening the 1999 season as the Diamondbacks number one prospect, they sent him along with Vladimir Núñez and PTBNL Abraham Nunez (no relation) to the Marlins for Matt Mantei.

On April 7, 2000, Penny made his major league debut with the Marlins in the fifth game of the season against the Colorado Rockies. He earned the victory by giving up one run over seven innings. He remained in the rotation for the majority of the season afterward, missing a month-and-a-half in July and August. Overall, not bad for a rookie. He surrendered a .263/.354/.421 slash line. His weak spot was his 59 percent strike rate, a little low, which led to a walk-rate just over 4.5 per nine.

Penny went 8-7 with a 4.81 ERA in 119 23 innings as a rookie, with 80 strikeouts and a 1.504 WHIP. All of his rate statistics placed him firmly in the middle of the pack as far as the Marlins pitching staff.

The 2001 season would see Penny emerge as a solid number two rotation starter with Florida. He led the rotation with a 3.69 ERA while leading the entire team with a 1.156 WHIP and a 3.32 FIP, ranking second with 154 K’s. His 2.85 K’s per walk also led the team in a club-second 205 innings pitched.

Key to Penny’s success was his improvement in his strike rate, which climbed all the way up to 66 percent. Penny pitched a shutout on April 21 against the Montreal Expos, striking out eight and allowing four hits. On June 26, Penny was remarkable against the same club in a 3-0 Marlins victory. He struck out 13 over eight one-hit shutout innings, earning the win with a 92 GameScore. Penny liked pitching against the Expos.

In 2002, Penny regressed to the mean with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.531 WHIP over 129 13 innings. He did, of course, pitch another shutout against Montreal in his first start of the season, allowing four hits and striking out three. Despite that outing, he didn’t really regain his 2001 form until 2004, when he struck out 105 in 131 13 innings, while holding down a 1.241 WHIP.

In the 2003 postseason, Penny started in four of his seven appearances. Although he wasn’t exactly his best, with an overall 5.73 ERA and a Game Two loss to the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, he was the winning pitcher of record in two of Florida’s four wins against the New York Yankees in the World Series.

On April 13, 2004, Penny struck out 10 in eight two-hit innings against Montreal, walking only one and earning his first win of the season. At the trade deadline, the Marlins sent him with Hee-Seop Choi and Bill Murphy to the Dodgers for Juan Encarnacion, Paul Lo Duca, and Guillermo Mota.

Penny pitched four-and-a-half seasons with the Dodgers, twice making the National League All Star Team and finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting in 2007 after going 16-4 with a 3.03 ERA. He followed with stints for the Boston Red Sox, the San Francisco Giants, the St. Louis Cardinal, the Detroit Tigers, and again with the Giants. A right-shoulder impingement put him on the injured reserve list in August, 2012, and he didn’t get back to the majors until 2014, with the Marlins once more.

In Penny’s return to the Marlins, he started in half of his eight appearances, earning a 6.58 ERA and striking out 13 while walking as many over 26 innings. For his career, he ranks fourth on the Marlins all-time leaderboard with 50 victories, fifth with 807 23 innings, and 10th with 583 strikeouts.