Earlier today, James pointed out some of the rather interesting eccentricities of your 1993 inaugural season Florida Marlins. I figured I’d add onto James’s contributions by bringing in the numbers comparison between the players that started for the Marlins way back in 1993. Though I did not get a a chance to live Marlins fanhood in 1993, I feel like looking at the team through the lens of the numbers is probably going to help me maintain impartiality when looking back on that first team. The names may not inspire greatness, but I believe they do tell some interesting tales. Let us stroll down some of memory lane once again, in no particular order.
Dave Magadan, Third Baseman (2.1 FanGraphs WAR, 1.5 Baseball-Reference WAR)
Would you like to learn an interesting fact regarding the otherwise quiet career of current Boston Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan? He actually led the Marlins in position player Wins Above Replacement (WAR) according to Baseball-Reference (rWAR); he also ranked second on the team in FanGraphs’s version of WAR (fWAR). How did he manage to do this? Well, it helps that he was one of only two players who were regular starters for the team that season (the other being the team’s other third baseman, Gary Sheffield) who actually ended up above league average with the bat. Magadan hit a Nick Johnson-like .286/.400/.392 (.357 wOBA), which ended up being 17 percent better than league average that season. Combined with decent defensive numbers, he added up to those WAR totals while only compiling 275 PA for the Marlins.
The Marlins later dealt Magadan to the Seattle Mariners, who later hilariously dealt him back to us at the end of the 1993 season. He went on to have another half season for the Fish before moving on. I’m not exactly sure why those trades happened on the Seattle side, though they may have had something to do with his poor performance for the Mariners.
Chuck Carr, Center Fielder (2.3, 1.1)
As James alluded to in the earlier post, Carr was quite a fan favorite. He was fast, and speed is always exciting to watch on the basepaths. Unfortunately, speed is not the only thing that can help a team offensively, and that was really the only thing Carr did with the bat. Baseball-Reference has him worth an astonishing 22 runs below average before accounting his baserunning. And B-R does not have his baserunning worth much either, rating at only two runs above average. It is easy to remember that Carr led the league in swipes that season, but he also led the league caught stealing, which certainly did him not good.
The one thing Carr did do to really help his stock is play some solid defense in center field. TotalZone had him worth +10 runs that season, which salvaged an otherwise replacement-level offensive season. FanGraphs thought a bit more highly of his play, actually labeling him the team’s WAR leader. It was successful enough campaign for Carr thanks to his defense, but no one would ever confuse his .267/.327/.330 slash line for anyone except perhaps Emilio Bonifacio (zing!)
Jeff Conine, Left Field (2.1, 0.6)
With Niner, it depends on who you ask. Baseball-Reference had his .292/.351/.403 slash line as a bit below average, while FanGraphs had it as a bit above average. Either way, it did not help that he played left field for the team and was hovering around average with the bat and glove. It was nice to see Niner’s first full season, but it was probably average at best and pretty poor at worst. Given that, it does not necessarily lend to the great legend of “Mr. Marlin.” Indeed, I think the legend has more to do with Niner being around for so many years with the organization, including tenures in both World Series teams.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not as if Conine was a bad player. After that 1993 season, he amassed 15.9 fWAR / 14.5 rWAR as a Marlin, and he remains one of the best Fish in the history of the team. It is just that, like Luis Castillo (the longest tenured Marlin in team history), his work was done being an above average player who was great in a season or two but did it for a long time in the Marlins uniform. He still earned his moniker, but there is something to be said about he earned it.
Orestes Destrada, First Baseman (-0.1, -1.4)
Destrada was perhaps the worst Marlin on that inaugural team. He sucked up 637 PA while batting .255/.324/.406, a wRC+ of 93, meaning that he was seven percent worse than the league average that season. Of course, it does not help that he was a first baseman, which is a position that is supposed to be composed of good hitters. Destrada dug himself further down the hole his bat started by recording 10 runs below average on defense. He was a thoroughly awful player in 1993, and it is no surprise that he never saw the light of day of the majors after 1994 and went to Japan to play out his baseball career.
Walt Weiss, Shortstop (2.3, 1.1)
Weiss only spent one season with the Fish, and the only thing that really caught my eye was that he was the rare player who drew more walks than strikeouts. In fact, for his career, Weiss struck out and walked in 11.9 percent of his PA. If he had garnered any more power or had a better BABIP over his career, he may have become a more valuable player, but even though he was never really suited to defend at shortstop, he still amassed a decent career for a middle-of-the-road player.