We’ve been reviewing all 630 players to have appeared with the Marlins at the major league level through their first 28 seasons of major league play.
It’s taken all offseason, but we’re down to the final nine players in the countdown. Today’s Marlin, Miguel Cabrera, totaled 18.3 bWAR with the team, ranking sixth all-time on the franchise leaderboard. On a per-plate-appearance basis, however, Cabrera ranks ninth of players with 800 or more plate appearances and/or batters faced. For context, the number 10 player in the countdown, Gary Sheffield, averaged .0056 bWAR per PA with the club, Cabrera averaged .0060, and the number eight player in the series averaged .062.
9. Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera is a six-foot-four corner infielder and left-fielder from Maracay, Venezuela. A right-handed hitter and thrower, Cabrera was signed to his first professional contract with the Marlins in 1999, at the age of 16. Four years later, before he was allowed to take a legal drink in the U.S., he made his major league debut for Florida.
In 87 games through his rookie season in 2003, Cabrera logged an OPS+ of 106, and didn’t put up a number that low again until 2017. Despite that figure of “only” 106, Cabrera received enough National League Rookie of the Year votes to finish fifth, with a .268/.325/.468 line, a dozen homers, and 62 RBI. As a rookie, he was demonstrably below average in left field, at five DRS below average in 481 innings. At third base, he was two DRS above, in 275 frames.
On September 20, with a playoff berth in the offing, Cabrera walked and scored in the second, hit an RBI-single in the fifth, and added a go-ahead, 11th-inning solo home run to give the Marlins an eventual 6-5 victory against the Atlanta Braves.
In Game Four of the National League Divisional Series against the San Francisco Giants, Cabrera was the key to a Florida victory. He doubled and scored in the second, doubled in the third, hit a two-run single in the fourth, and added another two-run single in the eighth as the Marlins took a 7-6 win and an NLCS date with the Braves.
Cabrera played in all 17 playoff appearances, and hit .265 with four home runs and 12 RBI to help the Marlins to their first World Series Championship. He then played in all-but-15 of Florida’s next 648 regular season games over the following four seasons.
Cabrera averaged 32 homers in his four full seasons for the Marlins, and gradually took more and more reps at the hot corner, spending each of his final two seasons exclusively at third base. In 720 total games over his five seasons in Florida, Cabrera slashed a .313/.388/.542 line with 138 long balls and 523 RBI. He made the NL All-Star team every season from 2004 through 2007, winning the 2005 NL Silver Slugger in left field and the 2006 award at third base.
After the 2007 regular season, the Marlins traded Cabrera with Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, and Mike Rabelo. In now 13 seasons for the Tigers, Cabrera has produced a slash line nearly identical to his five season run with the Marlins, at .313/.392/.539. He made the American League All Star Team in every year from 2010 through 2016, winning five more Silver Slugger Awards, four batting crowns, a triple crown in 2012 (hitting .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBI), and two AL Most Valuable Player Awards.
Cabrera has played in a total of 2,457 regular season major league games, and is the active leader with a .313 career-batting average. He’s collected 487 home runs (including 10 last season), and knocked in 1,729. His “black ink,” and “grey ink” both place him in very likely first-ballot Hall of Fame consideration. He’s currently entering the sixth year of an eight-year, $248 million deal with Detroit.