Tuesday, July 16, 2013
We're counting down the best All-Star selections in Marlins history. For Part 1 and a discussion of our criteria, click here.
Now we move on to the cream of the crop. No one-year wonders in the bunch (with a lone exception) - these guys bring or brought it for years. First up is a quartet of players who just missed the 5-WAR threshold, none of whom were undeserving All-Stars. I'll call them the Hall of Very Good All-Stars:
18. Luis Castillo, 2003 (4.4 WAR, 106 OPS+): Castillo won his first of three straight Gold Gloves, hit .314, and scored 99 runs for the World Series champs.
17. Mike Lowell, 2004 (4.3 WAR, 127 OPS+): Lowell followed up his career year with a 44-double, 27-home run season. His .293 average was then a career high, and he topped .500 in slugging percentage for the second of three times in his career (.505).
16. Dan Uggla, 2008 (4.4 WAR, 126 OPS+): Uggla is best remembered for committing three errors, two of which came on consecutive plays. He was a monster with the bat that year, though, hitting 32 home runs with 37 doubles while piling up the strikeouts (177 - third most in the NL).
15. Charles Johnson, 1997 (4.4 WAR, 113 OPS+): The defensive ace won his third of four straight Gold Gloves and slugged .454 - not bad for a catcher. He led the NL with 2.6 defensive WAR, catching 56 of 118 base stealers (most in the NL). In his prime CJ was a marvel behind the plate.
We pause here for our He Was That Good? All Star:
14. Carl Pavano, 2004 (5.3 WAR, 137 ERA+): Better known as The Time Pavano Convinced the Yankees to Give Him $40 Million. He went 18-8, but could not recapture the magic thereafter due in large part to injury troubles (and later, age).
Up next are the On-the-Cusp of Elite All-Stars, who are overshadowed only by some truly outstanding performances:
13. Miguel Cabrera, 2005 (5.2 WAR, 151 OPS+): Winning his first Silver Slugger and finishing 5th in NL MVP voting, Cabrera hit "only" 33 home runs but slugged .565 and finished third in the NL with a .323 batting average. And his best was still yet to come...And now we've reached The Pantheon. Here are the best of the best in Marlins history:
12. Giancarlo Stanton, 2012 (5.5 WAR, 156 OPS+): Sr. #Monsterdong led the NL with a .608 slugging percentage and walloped 37 home runs in an injury-shortened season.
11. Al Leiter, 1996 (5.6 WAR, 139 ERA+): He led the NL with with 119 walks, but mad up for it by giving up just 6.4 hits per 9 innings. He also threw the first no-hitter in franchise history on May 11 of that year.
10. Cabrera, 2006 (5.8 WAR, 159 OPS +): Cabrera just kept getting better, setting a career high with 50 doubles and a .998 OPS. We miss him so much. Thanks for nothing, Cameron Maybin :(
9. Gary Sheffield, 1996 (6.0 WAR, 189 OPS+): Sheff set a franchise record with 42 home runs and led the NL with a .465 OBP and 1.090 OPS. He won a Silver Slugger and finished 6th in MVP voting.
8. Cliff Floyd, 2001 (6.5 WAR, 150 OPS+): Floyd was one of the most consistent but underrated hitters in franchise history (4 straight years of at least 115 OPS+, 3 straight .300+ BA). He hit 31 home runs and 44 doubles in the only All-Star season of his 17-year career.
7. Josh Johnson, 2009 (6.6 WAR, 133 ERA+): The big righty got some notice in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He struck out a career-high 191 batters and was second among NL pitchers in WAR.
6. Hanley Ramirez, 2008 (6.8 WAR, 143 OPS+): Making his first All-Star appearance, Ramirez earned the starting nod in fan voting. He won a Silver Slugger, led the NL with 143 runs, and hit .301 while smacking 33 home runs.
5. Kevin Brown, 1997 (7.0 WAR, 150 ERA+): I had forgotten how good Brown was in his two years in Miami. He finished fifth in the NL with a 2.69 ERA and was also an excellent defender. He threw a no-hitter on June 10, and then a one-hitter just over a month later.
4. Dontrelle Willis, 2005 (7.2 WAR, 152 ERA+): Willis won our hearts all over again with his 22-win (franchise record) season that saw him finish second in NL Cy Young voting. His 7 complete games and 5 shutouts led the NL, he also batted .261 that year(!).
3. Johnson, 2010 (7.2 WAR, 180 ERA+): He didn't have the flash of Willis, but Johnson's 2010 season was arguably better than Dontrelle's 2005. JJ led the NL with a 2.30 ERA, with the 7th-lowest WHIP (1.105) and second-best K/BB ratio (3.875).
2. Ramirez, 2009 (7.3 WAR, 148 OPS+): Remember when Hanley Ramirez was one of the most exciting players in the game? He won the NL batting title in '09, hitting .342 and getting his second-straight starting job in the Midsummer Classic. Hanley finished 2nd in NL MVP voting; this was the apex of his career in Florida.
1. Brown, 1996 (8.0 WAR, 215 ERA+): Simply put, Brown's 1996 season was the best pitching performance in franchise history. He finished second in NL CY Young voting, led the league in ERA+, ERA (1.89), WHIP (0.944), HR/9 innings (0.3) and, curiously, HBP (16).