42. Robb Nen (4.9)
Robb Nen was a 6’4″, 200 lb. right-handed pitcher from San Pedro, CA. Born on November 28th, 1969, Nen was a 32nd round selection of the Texas Rangers in 1987.
Nen took six years in the Rangers system, but finally made his way up to the majors during the 1993 campaign. In 22 2/3 innings for Texas, he had a 2.382 WHIP, including 26 walks and only 12 strikeouts. On July 17th of that year, the Rangers traded Nen with Kurt Miller to the Florida Marlins for Cris Carpenter.
After joining the Marlins, Nen’s numbers dramatically improved. He walked 20 over 33 1/3 innings and struck out 27, with a WHIP of 1.650. Overall that season, he posted a 6.75 ERA, with a 5.45 FIP which suggested that maybe he wasn’t really as bad as all that.
In 1994, Nen started the season in the Marlins bullpen, later inheriting the closer role after Bryan Harvey (six saves). He totaled 15 saves for the Fish, going 5-5 with a 2.95 ERA, 60 K’s in 58 innings, a 1.086 WHIP, and an opposing slashline of .222/.280/.382. Nen’s 44 total appearances ranked second on the team, behind Richie Lewis‘ 45. He also ranked as Florida’s most valuable per-inning pitcher, with a team-best 148 ERA+.
1995 would see Nen get into a team second 62 games, leading the club with a 128 ERA+ and 23 saves. In 65 2/3 innings, he struck out 68 and racked up a 3.29 ERA. He had a 1.294 WHIP and a 3.32 FIP while going 0-7 in decisions.
1996 was Nen’s best season with the Florida Marlins. In an NL-sixth 75 contests, he saved an NL-sixth 35 games, going 5-1 with a 1.95 ERA. With a 2.06 FIP, it seemed to be sustainable (it was, but ultimately not for Florida). Nen struck out 92 in 83 innings with a 1.060 WHIP while holding batters to a .225/.277/.299 slashline, and his 3.7 positive WPA ranked ninth in the NL.
In 1997, Nen again converted 35 saves for the Marlins, with 81 whiffs in 74 innings through the regular season. Clearly his worst season for the Marlins, he posted a 1.514 WHIP and a 3.89 ERA, going 9-3. Not bad, for a bad season. Later, in the postseason, Nen appeared in eight games, saving four and striking out nine in 8 2/3 innings for the eventual World Series Champions.
After the season, the Marlins traded Nen to the San Francisco Giants for Mick Pageler, Mike Villano, and Joe Fontenot. Nen went on to earn three all-star invitations over his five seasons with the Giants, going 24-25 with 206 saves, a 2.43 ERA, and a 1.084 WHIP.