Miami Marlins Legacy Series: Best Ever Third Basemen

Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera celebrates a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks August 13, 2006 in Phoenix. The Marlins won 6 - 5. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera celebrates a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks August 13, 2006 in Phoenix. The Marlins won 6 - 5. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /
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ATLANTA – JULY 02: Jorge Cantu #3 of the Florida Marlins against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 2, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

5. Jorge Cantu (255 appearances)

Jorge Cantu was born on January 30th, 1982 in McAllen, Texas. After going undrafted in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays signed him through free agency and sent him to their short-season-A NYPL outfit, the Hudson Valley Renegades.

It took Cantu until 2004 to break the major league barrier with Tampa Bay, and he played mostly second base for them during his three-plus big league seasons there. At the 2007 trade deadline, he joined the Cincinnati Reds in a four-player deal, then was released after the season closed.

It didn’t take long for the Florida Marlins to ink Cantu to a deal. The 2008 season opened with Cantu as the Marlins starting third baseman, and he went on to appear in 129 games at the position, and 155 overall through the campaign.

Cantu had hit 28 homers in 2005, but that power seemed to have gone missing afterwards. It came back with a vengeance for the Marlins, to the tune of a 29 homer season. Cantu hit .277/.327/.481 with 95 RBI on the offensive side of the plate. As a third baseman, he turned in a below-average .937 fielding percentage, and was worth minus-two runs over his season – just barely below “average.”

2009 would see Cantu’s power stroke cut back to only 16 round-trippers, but he ranked second on the team with 100 RBI while slashing .289/.345/.443. Defensively, the Marlins had Cantu play in 111 games at first base versus 45 at the hotter corner. His resultant .910 fielding percentage and minus-10 Rtot/yr bore that out.

Cantu played in another 81 games at third base for the Marlins in 2010, but his fielding percentage languished at .909 over 632 1/3 innings. Although he slashed .262/.310/.409 for the Fish, he also turned in a -1.0 WAR, the only time in his three Marlins season he was below zero. At the trade deadline, Florida sent him to the Texas Rangers for Omar Poveda and Evan Reed.

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