The Miami Marlins have had a lot of ups and downs over their 27 season major league history.
Berg joined the defending World Series Champions for his major league debut in the third game of the season, as a pinch-runner for Gary Sheffield. Despite homers from Sheffield and Cliff Floyd, the Florida Marlins lost that one, 8-7 to the Chicago Cubs.
A 5’11” infielder, Berg’s stock-in-trade was his defensive versatility. Like Jon Berti, Miguel Rojas, Derek Dietrich, and many others through Marlins history, Berg served in the “super-utility infielder” role. As a rookie, he played at least 100 innings at second, third, and at shortstop. He earned above-average marks at all three positions, going by his RF/9.
Berg’s best position was undoubtedly second base, where he played most of the time and handled 103 chances without an error as a rookie. Although never considered a juggernaut of any sort on the offensive side of the ball, he hit .313 with a .393 OBP that season, over 215 plate appearances with a career-best OPS+ of 117. He would never again post a mark above the league average, set each season at 100. Berg was 27-years-old when he made his debut.
Although Berg never equalled his first-year production again in the majors, he was still a solid swingman for the Florida Marlins. Over his four seasons, he appeared in a total of 354 games, and hit .273/.343/.373 with 10 homers and 83 RBI. Despite nearly 500 innings spent at second base over his first three Marlins’ seasons, Berg didn’t commit an error until his fourth season and closed with a .988 fielding percentage at the four-spot.
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Granted free agency following the 2001 campaign, Berg signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays, and enjoyed three productive seasons with the club. He hit .263/.307/.372 in 228 games for the Jays before leaving the team after 2004. Although Berg tried to catch on later with the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Texas Rangers, he never again appeared in a major league game, retiring a month into the 2006 season.
Berg just completed his third season as a manager in the Seattle Mariners system after seven coaching for the Florida/Miami Marlins. He once managed the Jacksonville Suns to a 14-8 win over the Miami Marlins in an exhibition.
This year, he coached the West Virginia Power to a 69-70 record in the single-A South Atlantic League. Happy 49th birthday to Berg.
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