Now that we’ve run through the best of the best in terms of individual Marlins seasons, I figured it would be fun to build an All-Decade team for the Marlins, spanning from 2000 to 2009. The team would consist of the best players at each position, plus five starters and three relievers for pitchers. The reliever count was arbitrary, but I did not want to come up with a large number of relievers for the team.
How would I come up with the best players on the team for the decade? Like in the Decade Top Ten seasons, the Marlins All-Decade team will be determined by Wins Above Replacement, or WAR. The way I’ll measure it is simple; for each position, I’ll take the player with the highest WAR for each position for his time on the team. For the three outfielders, at least one member had to have played at least half of his time in center field (every team needs a center fielder, right?), but the other two can be pure corner outfielders.
With all that in mind, here are your results, with a brief explanation for each player. Ladies and gents, your Florida Marlins All-Decade team!
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez (4.0 WAR)
It may seem odd to crown Pudge with the title of best Marlins catcher of the decade after only playing for the team one season. But there are two big reasons why Pudge made the list. One, he was the best catcher the Marlins have had all decade in terms of WAR, even if it was only for one season. The only other catcher who came close in this analysis was current catcher John Baker, who has totaled 2.2 WAR in his time so far as the starter. Pudge wasn’t the defender that we had signed him to be, but he served adequately and was more than effective with the bat in his lone season with the Marlins.
First Base: Derrek Lee (9.9 WAR)
There was no doubt about this pick. D-Lee was the Marlins’ full-time first baseman for the first four years of the decade, and with sparse replacements over the course of the second half of the decade, there was no one who could match Lee’s accomplishments at first base with a Marlins uniform. Lee had quite a reputation as a good defensive player at first base, but he actually tallied nine runs below average over his time at the position. What he did to make up for it was have a solid, consistent bat. Over his four seasons with the Marlins this decade, Lee racked up 78 runs above average on offense.
Second Base: Luis Castillo (19.0 WAR)
Honorable Bench Mention: Dan Uggla (11.1 WAR)
Luis Castillo is the career leader in games played as a Marlin, with 1114 career games wearing the teal and black. That total is 175 games ahead of the next ranking, the third baseman of the decade for the Marlins. He logged six full seasons with the Marlins this decade, from 2000 to 2005. Castillo produced the second most WAR as a Marlin this decade primarily on the back of longevity; he averaged only 3.2 WAR a season. However, Castillo is the owner of one of the top ten best seasons for the Marlins this decade, a 5 WAR campaign for the 2003 World Series team.
Dan Uggla deserves some merit for his work in the latter half of the decade. These two are the only two players who have manned second base on a regular basis for the Marlins this decade. Uggla’s 11.1 WAR came in a drastically different fashion than Castillo’s 19.1. Whereas Castillo did it through defense (34 runs above average at second base) Uggla’s production was primarily based on offense (56 runs above average with the bat).
Third Base: Mike Lowell (16.3 WAR)
Lowell was a clear cut favorite for the role of third baseman of the decade. He also logged six seasons for the team and actually led the Marlins in games played for the decade (884 games, edging Castillo’s 840). Lowell was a staple offensive force in the Marlins arsenal in the first half of the decade; according to Rally’s linear weights, Lowell was worth 52 runs above average with the bat, though that number is dropped to 32 runs when accounting for GIDP and ROE runs. Lowell had a reputation for being a solid defender at the hot corner, and he followed through according to TotalZone, measuring at 25 runs above average at third base. Lowell had five productive years for the Marlins this decade, but his awful 2005 shot a lot of trade value. That season, he was worth only 0.6 WAR after batting .236/.298/.360.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez (25.6 WAR)
There should be no surprise that Hanley Ramirez came out on top for the Marlins in WAR this decade, but no one could have guessed such a thing would happen before the 2006 season. Ramirez had not shown strong play in the minors before being acquired by the Marlins as part of the Josh Beckett trade. Since coming to Florida, Ramirez has only racked up a staggering 146 runs above average with the bat and an additional 18 runs on the bases. While there has been complaint about Ramirez’ defense at shortstop, he’s averaged just about four runs below average a season with the Fish, with three average years and one catastrophic season in 2007. It’s quite an accomplishment that each season Ramirez has played has made the Marlins’ top ten seasons this decade.
Center Field: Cody Ross (6.7 WAR)
Here’s a surprising choice. Who knows what the Marlins would be doing for center field choices if the Marlins had not purchased Ross from the Cincinnati Reds for a marginally small total. Since his acquisition, Ross has done a surprisingly good job of being a league average player over the last few seasons. He had a peak 197 PA in 2007, hitting .335/.411/.653, good for a ridiculous .446 wOBA. Since thne, he’s posted two seasons of full time play, primarily in center field, posting a .343 wOBA and around 14 runs above average offensively in that time. Results of Ross’ defense have been mixed in center, but he seems to be a bit below average overall, and the total package has been very worthwhile to the Marlins.
Corner Outfield: Miguel Cabrera (18.7 WAR)
Clearly Cabrera was going to have a spot on the Marlins All-Decade team; the only question was in which position. Cabrera played a very similar amount of games at both third base and in the outfield. Everywhere he played defensively, he was not very good; TotalZone had him at -16 runs at third and -25.5 in the outfield, while UZR was a bit lighter on him, rating him at -11 at third and -25 in the outfield. However, wherever he played, there as no doubt his offense stuck. In his time with the Fish, Cabrera was worth 166 runs above average with the bat in five seasons with the Marlisn from 2003 to 2007.
Corner Outfield: Cliff Floyd (12.3 WAR)
Honorary Bench Mention: Josh Willingham (6.3 WAR)
Floyd only spent a little more than two full seasons with the Marlins in this decade, but given the quality of his seasons and the weakness of the outfield crop for the Marlins this decade, he made the list. Floyd dominated in 2001, putting up 6.6 WAR in one of two full seasons he played for the Marlins in his career. His 2000 campaign was halted by injury, while his 2002 season was cut by the Marlins trading him. Floyd put up 77 runs above average in 1463 PA and 354 games, a worthy feat.
Willingham deserves a mention as a solid, underrated slugger for the Fish. His seasons were the quietest 6 or so WAR that I had ever been a part of.
Honorary Bench Players: Wes Helms (1.9 WAR) , Brett Carroll (1.6 WAR)
These two are there because every team could use some strong defensive backups. I couldn’t think of any other worthwhile, good bench players.
So here are your Marlins All-Decade position players, with starters in bold:
C Ivan Rodriguez
1B Derrek Lee
2B Luis Castillo
3B Mike Lowell
SS Hanley Ramirez
OF Cliff Floyd
OF Miguel Cabrera
CF Cody Ross
2B Dan Uggla
OF Josh Willingham
1B/3B Wes Helms
OF Brett Carroll
Stay tuned next time for the pitchers!