Miami Marlins All-Decade team

Miami Marlins
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JUNE 28: A detailed view of a Miami Marlins baseball hat and glove sitting on the dugout steps during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 28, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Marlins 7-5. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

For some teams, the past decade has been one to remember. Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins, that hasn’t necessarily been the case. It was a 10-year span filled with 10 straight losing seasons without a sniff of postseason action. Thrown in were two 100-loss campaigns while the best record for the Fish came in 2010 when they went 80-82. All of that happened even with a new stadium in Marlins Park and a rebranding away from the Florida Marlins name back in 2012.

It was an interesting group of characters that made up the Miami roster over the years. There were several big-time bats including three players who’s time in Miami ended with a WAR of 13.5 or higher. There’s been plenty of frustration through the decade as Miami’s offense ranked fourth-worst in baseball according to offensive WAR (-649.1). Meanwhile, the defensive efforts were outstanding with only ten other teams fairing better in defensive WAR (Miami at 245.7). The decade for Miami was marred by big-time talent leaving via trade but not before they left their mark.

Starting Pitcher: Jose Fernandez (2016)

There are several individuals who could fit in this spot but perhaps none more memorable than Jose Fernandez. Even though he tragically passed before the 2016 season finished, Fernandez bosted the best WAR among Marlins pitchers across the decade (1.0).

His first season (2013) and his final season (2016) were his best but it was his final season that took the cake. Fernandez posted a league-leading 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings during the 2016 season, but his initial MLB campaign held some pop as well. In that year alone (2013), Fernandez ranked seventh or better in 17 statistical categories among NL pitchers. Batters were having a tough time against Fernandez and it manifested itself in the form of a league-best 5.8 hits allowed per nine innings. His mark of 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings helped him earn NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 but then he somehow topped that with a league-best 12.4 K’s per nine in 2016.

Catcher: JT Realmuto (2018)

There’s nobody else that could fit this spot better for Miami than JT Realmuto. His best season ironically was his last for Miami but it was an amazing farewell. Realmuto posted career-highs in on-base percentage (.340), OPS (.825), and OPS+ (126). That led to his first All-Star appearance and his first Silver Slugger Award.

Few could argue that Realmuto was the most productive catcher for Miami. Through just four years with the Fish, he blasted 59 home runs and posted 243 RBI. All that led Realmuto to post a WAR of 4.5 in 2018 alone and 13.9 across his tenure with the Marlins. Before getting traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, Realmuto ranked fourth among all catchers in most barrels met per plate appearance.

Defensively Realmuto broke out in 2018 as well pacing all catchers in pop time to second base (1.90 seconds). It was his best defensive output at the time with a defensive WAR of 0.6. Overall Realmuto etched himself in the history books and is well-deserving of all-decade team membership.

First Base: Justin Bour (2017)

While Gaby Sanchez had me thinking for a few seconds, the ultimate obvious choice here is Justin Bour. No Marlin first-baseman through the past decade has been more productive. Sure Sanchez held a more appealing strikeout rate (15.6% compared to 22.1%) but there was nothing else to really compare with.

Bour blasted 83 long balls as a Marlin, 25 of which came in the 2017 season. That was the year he posted career-highs in batting average (.289), on-base percentage (.366), slugging (.536), and OPS (.902). What really set him apart as the top first-baseman of the decade started with the fact his offensive WAR of 23.6 is over 10 points above the next man up (Morrison at 13.1). He also produced nearly 100 more RBI through 226 more plate appearances than the next man on deck. Again, no longer with the team but arguably the best guy in this position.

Second Base: Dee Gordon (2015) 

This was perhaps the toughest battle to pick due to the three viable players who could have made it. Dan Uggla sure put his name in the mix leading Miami second basemen in slugging (.508) over the past ten years. Derek Dietrich held the largest volume with the most plate appearances (608) and home runs (60) during that same time span.

Despite those two, the player who most deserves to be here is Dee Gordon. Despite his limited time in Miami, Gordon produced the highest WAR (9.4) among second-basemen across the decade. He has been the only Miami second-basemen to post positive numbers in both offensive WAR (15.8) and defensive WAR (21.3). Speed was the name of Gordon’s game and in 2015, it all came together for his best season. That was the year he earned his only Silver Slugger Award by leading baseball with a .333 batting average. The 2015 season also saw Gordon strike a career-high in hits (205) while leading the league with 58 stolen bases.

Ultimately a perfect person for this spot. A guy that helped Miami morn the loss of Jose Fernandez with a leadoff homer the game following Fernandez’s passing.

Third Base: Derek Dietrich (2018)

Also a tough call but ultimately it’s Derek Dietrich to get the nod at the hot corner. Even though Dietrich played multiple positions without much of an extended stay at one position, there’s no denying his production overall.

It was a very tight race with Brian Anderson who has produced the largest WAR mark (6.5) of the past decade third-basemen. Ultimately the production of Dietrich (however little time spent at third base) is what moved the needle his way. Dietrich led the decade worth of third-basemen with 204 RBI. His best season came in 2018 when he produced a career-best 204 RBI. Dietrich also paced the Fish third-basemen crop with an offensive WAR mark of 24.7, the best by a Marlin third-basemen over the past 10 years.

The 2018 campaign saw Dietrich produce (at the time) best marks in home runs (16), doubles (26), and total bases (210). It was ultimately a revolving door at the hot corner for the Marlins, Dietrich was just a bit above and beyond the rest of the group for this honor.

Shortstop: Miguel Rojas (2019) 

This was a two-man race between Miguel Rojas and Adeiny Hechavarria but the overall body of work favored the former. Rojas led all Miami second-basemen with a 37.5 Defensive WAR for the decade. Although he was more utilized as a utility man, Rojas did accumulate 350 starts at shortstop, more than any other mark across all other positions (247 starts).

The most recent season is what stood out the best for Rojas. The Venezuela born star posted career-bests in total hits (137) and doubles (29) in 2019 alone. He picked up a career-best 32 walks to go along with a nice slash line of .284/.331/.397, the ladder of which was a career-high. When all is said and done, it’s Rojas’ offensive numbers that put him ahead of Hechavarria. That is shown through Rojas’ 7.9 WAR compared to Hechavarria’s 2.3. Rojas has also proven to be one of the more reliable hitters for Miami with a contact rate of 85 percent, third-best in the last decade for the Fish.

Left Field: Christian Yelich (2016)

Before Christian Yelich went on to have consecutive MVP-like seasons with Milwaukee, he left his mark as a Marlin. During his five year stint with the Marlins, Yelich was the second-best outfielder on the roster and was by far top-two across the past ten seasons with the Fish. Yelich ended his time with Miami with an on-base mark of .369 to lead all outfielders across the past ten years. During that same time, Yelich posted a WAR of 18.2, most among all left fielders.

The 2016 campaign was his best season with Miami, striking career-highs in hits (172), home runs (21), RBI (98), wRC+ (134), OBP (.376) and OPS+ (135). Even though the 2014 season ended with a Gold Glove award, Yelich’s 2016 season ended with a Silver Slugger award.

While it may have been frustrating to watch him go, Yelich’s return from the Milwaukee Brewers had the biggest impact and included key foundational pieces such as Lewis Brinson, Jordan Yamamoto, Isan Diaz, and Monte Harrison.

Center Field: Marcell Ozuna (2017)

Just like many of the stars of yesterday for Miami in the past decade, Marcell Ozuna reached new heights with the Marlins. Also like many of his teammates, his best season in a Marlins uniform was his final.

During the 2017 campaign, Ozuna’s name sored after reaching then career-highs in doubles (30), home runs (37), and RBI (124). He led all Miami batters across that season in batting average (.312) which just so happens to remain his all-time best mark. En route to a Silver Slugger award, Ozuna found himself to be one of the more consistent hitters striking a team-leading .355 Batting Average on Balls In Play. Whenever Ozuna did hit the ball he made it count and from that Ozuna had a hard hit on team ten-year best 39.1 percent of the time he hit the ball. Defensively, Ozuna found productivity on both sides of the ball by leading the league in fielding percentage (.984) that season.

Ozuna proved to be an all-around player earning an All-Star bid and a Golden Glove award in 2017 as well. His haul in exchange brought excitement to Miami as well with four solid prospects.

Right Field: Giancarlo Stanton (2017)

It’s hard to argue why Giancarlo Stanton would be on this list. He could fit the mold for pretty much any major league team. His production not only made him one of the most productive players across the past decade for the Marlins but across franchise history as well. He too followed the mold and had his best season with Miami in 2017, his farewell season with the Fish. Before he departed, Stanton left his mark with franchise records in career home runs (267), RBI (672), total bases (1983), and WAR (35.5). His time with Miami brought four All-Star appearances, two Silver Slugger honors, and two Hank Aaron Awards.

That 2017 campaign added a lot to the conversation especially considering that he earned the NL MVP honor that year. It was easy to see why starting with the fact that he blasted a league-best 59 homers while also pacing the league in slugging (.631) for the third time in his career. All that came in 691 plate appearances. Stanton also paced the league with 91 extra-base hits which then marked the second time in his career leading the league in both homers and extra-base hits. It was a tough situation for any opposing pitcher as they had to respect his OBP of .376 but then had to honor his league-best 132 RBI at the same time. That led to a year with 85 walks and a league-best OPS+ of 169.

He may be in New York Yankees pinstripes now but his time with Miami will forever be memorable.

Relief Pitcher: AJ Ramos (2016)

It was a true two-man race here between A.J. Ramos and Steve Cishek. Going based on individual best seasons it would actually be Cishek to get the nod. His 2014 campaign averaged nearly two strikeouts more per walk than Ramos’ best season in 2016. Cieshek’s 2014 season held a FIP mark of 2.1 compared to Ramos’ 2.9. Cishek’s 2014 season led Ramos’ 2016 campaign in total strikeouts, WHIP, and strikeouts per nine innings.

Having said all of that, when we are talking about an all-decade player, Ramos gets the nod. His best season was that 2016 campaign with included an All-Star appearance. Through 64 innings that season he averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings with a WHIP of 1.359.

His tenure overall with Miami is what really gave him the honor. Only one person hauled more innings than the 327 by Ramos (Mike Dunn – 328) for Miami over the last ten years. There was, however, no relief pitcher in the past decade who tossed more strikeouts for the Fish than Ramos and his 379 punchouts. Throughout his six-year tenure with Miami, Ramos posted 92 saves with just 24 home runs allowed. Three out of his six years with the Marlins for Ramos saw him best the league average in FIP (Field Independent Pitching). Ramos didn’t allow many baserunners respectively but when he did, he didn’t allow many to score. He bested the league average in leaving runners on base five out of his six years in Miami.

Starting Rotation: 

  1. Jose Fernandez
  2. Josh Johnson
  3. Ricky Nolasco
  4. Anibal Sanchez
  5. Tom Koehler

 

Bullpen:

It may not have been a decade to brag about but it sure did hold a bunch of players who sure made things interesting along the way.

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