Throughout the 2020-21 offseason, we’ve been going through every player to appear with the Florida and Miami Marlins.
The series focuses on the 630 players to have appeared with the Florida and Miami Marlins over their first 28 seasons. The final 128 players in the countdown have all accumulated at least 800 plate appearances or batters faced with the club. The top 108 players came in above replacement level. Josh Willingham collected 6.4 bWAR in his five seasons with the Marlins.
30. Josh Willingham
Josh Willingham is a six-foot-two right-handed left fielder from Florence, Alabama. In 2000, the Marlins chose him in the 17th round of the draft out of the University of North Alabama with the 491st overall selection.
Willingham finished his three-year collegiate career with a .424 batting average. He scored 178 runs, had 205 hits, 185 RBI, 43 doubles, four triples, 30 home runs and 70 stolen bases in 77 attempts. He also set a school record with five grand slams. - roarlions.com
In 112 games in 2004 in the Carolina League, Willingham hit .281/.449/.565 with 24 homers and 76 RBI. In July, he appeared in a dozen games at the major league level with the Marlins, going five-for-25 with a solo homer. In his second career game, on July 7 in a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Willingham reached base safely in every plate appearance, drawing two walks and collecting a pair of singles.
Willingham spent most of the 2005 season at the Triple-A level, hitting .324/.455/.676 in 66 contests for the Albuquerque Isotopes. Another look at the top level would see him go seven-for-23 in another 16 games.
The 2006 campaign would prove to be Willingham’s coming out party. He hit .277/.356/.496 in 142 games, hitting a team-second 26 home runs with 74 RBI. He drew 54 walks and struck out 109 times. He had his highest WPA of the season on August 1 against the New York Mets. He didn’t appear until the final plate appearance of the game, then drilled a two-run, come-from-behind walk-off home run off Billy Wagner for a 6-5 Marlins win. His season was good enough for him to collect a few mentions for the National League Rookie of the Year, he finished ninth in the balloting.
In 2007, Willingham finished second on the Marlins with 89 RBI. He hit .265/.364/.463 with 21 jacks and eight stolen bases in nine attempts. On August 11, he was responsible for most of Florida’s offense in a 7-5 win against the New York Mets. Willingham hit a single in the fourth and an RBI-single in the sixth off starter Tom Glavine. In the seventh, he added a come-from-behind grand slam off reliever Guillermo Mota.
Willingham was limited by injury to 102 contests in 2008. He hit .254/.364/.470 with 15 long-balls and 51 RBI. After the season, Florida sent him with Scott Olsen (#91) to the Washington Nationals for P.J. Dean, Emilio Bonifacio (#65), and Jake Smolinski. After two seasons with the Nats, Willingham played a year for the Oakland Athletics, two-and-a-half years with the Minnesota Twins, and the final month of 2014 with the Kansas City Royals. After 11 major league seasons, he had 195 homers and 632 RBI.