The All-Time Marlins Countdown has been chugging away now for the better part of five months.
With only a little more than two weeks until Opening Day, we still have 17 more Marlins in the countdown. Today’s chapter, the 149th, features a guy who never struck a lot of batters out, but found a way to get the job done anyway.
The final 128 players in the series accumulated at least 800 plate appearances and/or batters faced with the Marlins. Within that bracket, they’re ranked in ascending bWAR divided by PA/BF. Henderson Alvarez totaled 5.9 bWAR as a pitcher, and an additional 0.8 at the plate.
17. Henderson Alvarez
Henderson Alvarez is a 30-year-old right-handed pitcher from Valencia, Venezuela. In 2006, at the age of 16, he signed his first professional deal with the Toronto Blue Jays and reported to their minor league complex. As I said previously, Alvarez was never much for getting players to miss, but he also boasted a pretty solid grasp of the strike zone, walking 78 through his first five seasons. For a little context, that's a 1.76 BB/9 over his first 405 professional innings.
Alvarez relies on a five-pitch mix, with a sinker, a four-seamer, a slider, a cutter, and an occasional changeup.
Alvarez made his major league debut with the Blue Jays in 2011, and started 41 times through his first two seasons at the top level. He went 10-17 with a 4.52 ERA, along with a 1.36 WHIP. After the 2012 season Alvarez was traded along with Anthony DeSclafani, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarría, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, and Justin Nicolino to the Marlins for Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and José Reyes.
Upon joining the Marlins, Alvarez retained his number 37 jersey, but began the 2013 season on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. Although it was listed as “minor,” the setback kept him on the shelf until June, and he didn’t make his Miami debut until July 4. He didn’t miss a start for the rest of the season, settling nicely into the Marlins rotation and going 5-6 in 17 starts. He struck out 57 in 102 2⁄3 innings, walking only 27 while putting an impressive 65 percent of his offerings over the plate. He also posted a 3.59 ERA, a 3.18 FIP, and a career-best (and Marlins third) 1.14 WHIP. He did post a 1.131 WHIP as a rookie in 2011 for the Jays, but only pitched 63 2⁄3 innings.
Alvarez saved his best start for last. In Miami’s last game of the season, on September 29, he pitched a no-hitter, defeating the Detroit Tigers, 1-0. He walked one, struck out four, and took only 99 pitches to turn the trick. Alvarez earned the victory in an unconventional fashion (for a no-hitter). After nine innings of no-hit ball, the game was still scoreless. Giancarlo Stanton scored the game-winning walk-off run on a Luke Putkonen wild pitch in possibly the most exciting way to end a no-hitter.
In 2014, Alvarez followed up his no-hitter as the Marlins number three starter. He took 30 turns in the rotation, improving his already impressive strike-rate to 67 percent. He walked 33 and struck out 111 in 187 innings in total, going 12-7 with a 2.65 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, and a major league-leading three shutouts. His best of the season was on April 19 against the Seattle Mariners, in a 7-0 Marlins victory. Alvarez held the Mariners to two hits, walking zero and needing only 90 pitches.
The Marlins used Alvarez as their Opening Day starter in 2015, but something was off. He lost each of his four starts, racking up a 6.45 ERA in 22 1⁄3 innings. On May 23, he went on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. After the season, Miami granted his free agency, and he signed with the Oakland Athletics.
Alvarez didn’t get back to the majors until 2017 with the Washington Nationals, but walked 11 in 14 innings of work. He’s been shuffling around the minors since, most recently helping the Milwaukee Milkmen to an American Association championship in 2020.