Throughout the 2020-21 offseason, Fish Stripes is recapping the 630 players to appear with the major league team through their first 28 seasons of play.
In today’s edition, we are taking a look at the number 81, 80, and 79 players on the list. A shortstop, a reliever, and a starter, the three players representing the Marlins in today’s story all finished a good margin above replacement level, according to Baseball Reference. Players are ordered according to the bWAR they accumulated with the club divided by their total amount of plate appearances and/or batters faced.
Adeiny Hechavarría is a six-foot right-handed shortstop from Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Now a nine-season major league veteran, Hechavarría got his start in 2010 when he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, two days prior to his 20th birthday.
It was with Toronto for whom Hechavarría later made his major league debut, with a 41 game look in 2012. While he only managed an OPS+ of 75, putting him well below the National League average at bat, his defensive acumen guaranteed him a slot in a major league infield. He was cast by the Jays at third base (156 innings), second base (70 2⁄3 innings), and yes, at shortstop (114 innings).
Following the 2012 season, Jeffrey Loria was looking to recoup his money on Miami’s ill-fated attempt to compete that season. In a cost cutting measure, he sent Jose Reyes (#146), Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck (#85) and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto for Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani (#371), Jeff Mathis (#232), Jake Marisnick (#337), Justin Nicolino (#122), and Yunel Escobar.
Although Hechavarría occasionally delighted with a random web-gem, he was never a significant threat at the plate. He totaled 13 home runs in five seasons, hitting .255/.292/.336 with 168 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 43 attempts. Moreover, he wasn’t particularly patient either, with over three strikeouts accumulated per walk (342-to-113, respectively).
Defensively, however, Hechavarría was indeed the real deal. He was worth 21 runs more than the “average” NL shortstop during his tenure with Miami, over 5,083 2⁄3 innings in the field at the six-hole. He was of particular value during the 2015 campaign, during which he hit a career-best .281 with a .984 fielding percentage at shortstop (and 12 of his 21 DRS while with the club, incidentally). In fact, nearly half of Hechavarría’s 5.3 career bWAR was earned during the 2015 season (2.6). And seriously, the guy was a spectacular defensive shortstop (see video).
On July 21, 2014, Hechavarría enjoyed his best game with the Marlins. After grounding out and lining out in his first two plate appearances against the Washington Nationals, he led off the eighth with a single, and later scored on a Jeff Baker groundout to get the Marlins within three runs. In the bottom of the ninth, with one out and Marcell Ozuna on second base, Hechavarría smacked a triple into deep right center, tying the score. He scored the winning run two batters later, on a Jeff Baker single for a 7-6 victory. The convergence of events resulted in Hechavarría’s highest single-game WPA with the team, a mark of .549.
A month prior to the 2017 trade deadline, the Marlins were ready to try out JT Riddle as their full-time shortstop, and sent Hechavarría packing. They traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays for Ethan Clark and Braxton Lee.
Hechavarría has since also appeared at the major league level with the Pittsburgh Pirates, both New York clubs, and most recently with the Atlanta Braves. He’s currently a free agent going into 2021 Spring Training.
80. Ryan Bowen
Right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Bowen is a six-foot native of Hanford, California. In 1986, the Houston Astros selected him in the first round out of Hanford HS, with the 13th choice off the board. Five years later, he made his major league debut with Houston, starting in 22 of his 25 appearances over two seasons and racking up a 7.01 ERA between 1991 and 1992.
Left unprotected by the Astros, the Marlins chose Bowen with the 63rd pick in the 1992 expansion draft. He started Florida’s inaugural campaign as the Marlins’ number four starter, and his highest WPA of his major league career was his first start after joining the new team.
So yeah, Bowen’s first start with the Marlins was on April 9, 1993, against the San Diego Padres at Joe Robbie Stadium. He lasted eight innings, struck out four batters, and allowed zero runs on four singles, a double, and a walk. Despite Bowen’s career-high .582 WPA, Marlins closer Bryan Harvey (#129) couldn’t get the job done, surrendering two runs in the bottom of the ninth, and Florida lost, 2-1.
On August 7, 1994, in his final start of the truncated season, Bowen got a lot better results against the New York Mets. He struck out six over 7 1⁄3 shutout two-hit innings in a 2-0 Marlins victory (Bowen’s first of the season against five losses). Ironically, his next scheduled start was the first day of the 1994-95 MLB lockout. Just when he looked like he was heating up...
Bowen pitched in four games for the Marlins in 1995, starting three of them, then never pitched in the majors again. He played 1996 with the New Orleans Zephyrs for the Milwaukee Brewers, and 1997 in the New York Yankees farm system. In 1999, he went 9-4 for the Sacramento Steelheads in the independent Western League.
For his Marlins career, Bowen went 11-17 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP over 39 appearances, including 38 starts. He struck out 145 batters in 220 2⁄3 innings. Going over some of the more obscure splits, it’s clear Bowen’s impact on the game was measurable. In his wins, opponents slugged .291 against him, and in losses, they managed a mark of .506.
79. Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is a six-foot left-hander from Farmington, New Mexico. In 2003, the Houston Astros chose him in the 14th round, but he didn’t sign. For once, it looked like his gamble didn’t pay off, because in 2004 he went in the 33rd round to the New York Yankees.
Dunn got to the majors with the Bombers in 2009, pitching four major league innings. He spent 2010 with the Atlanta Braves, posting a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings of work. After that season, the Braves traded him with Omar Infante to the Marlins for Dan Uggla.
Dunn pitched 328 innings over the next six years for Florida/Miami, appearing for a Marlins-record 405 times in relief. He still tops the all-time leaderboard in the category. Never used as a closer, Dunn collected four saves to go with his 26-25 career-record, posting a 3.59 ERA and 357 strikeouts versus 150 walks.
Like Hechavarría (2015) and Bowen (1993), Dunn had one standout year while with the Marlins, and that was 2013. He picked up 1.6 of his career 2.7 bWAR during that campaign, with a career-best 1.20 WHIP, a solid 3.12 FIP, and a 2.66 ERA in a NL-fourth 75 pitching appearances. Dunn’s 9.80 K/9 was the fourth-best qualifying strikeout rate from pitchers with over 200 innings pitched with the Marlins.
On May 16, 2011, Dunn struck out five batters over two perfect innings to help defeat the New York Mets, 2-1. On August 23, 2013, he came up one pitch short of an immaculate inning, striking out the side on 10 pitches in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies (leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon took a ball at 0-2).
Dunn stranded 71 percent of inherited baserunners over the course of his time with the Marlins, including 35-of-44 in 2015, and managed to put 63 percent of his pitches over the plate over the course of his time in South Florida.
Granted free agency following the 2016 season, Dunn landed with the Colorado Rockies for three more productive seasons. He announced his retirement from baseball on February 4, 2020.
Check back here tomorrow for Chapter 115 with three pitchers.