Florida Marlins History: Appreciating John Baker

The Florida, then Miami Marlins have had a total of 590 players suit up for at least one plate appearance or batter faced over their 27 season history.

In 2008, the Marlins were coming off a 71-91 campaign in their first season under manager Fredi Gonzalez. Six-foot-one catcher John Baker was originally selected by the Athletics in the fourth round of the MLB Amateur Entry Draft in 2002, out of the University of California. In three seasons with the Bears, he hit .340/.423/.490 in 108 Division 1 contests.

After his selection, Baker, an Alameda, CA native spent four seasons in the A’s minor league feeder system, then was waived and picked up by Florida after the 2005 season, and rewaived and picked back up again by the A’s 21 days later.

Just before 2007’s Opening Day, the Marlins traded minor league first baseman Jason Stokes to the Oakland Athletics for 27-year-old minor league catcher Baker. He spent the season for the Marlins at their Triple-A level, with the Pacific Coast League’s Albuquerque Isotopes, where he hit .285/.360/.430 in 89 games.

Baker made his major league debut with Florida on July 9th, 2008, and the 61 games he appeared in with the Marlins that season would comprise the best major league season in his eventual seven-season MLB career.

Baker hit .299/.392/.447 in 233 plate appearances, with five home runs and 32 RBI. He drew 30 walks for a truly solid 12.9 percent base-on-balls rate, and struck out just over 20 percent of the time, 48 times. He also finished the year with 1.4 WAR, nearly one full win over his second best season. On September 18th, he had a career-game in an 8-1 victory over the Houston Astros. After grounding into a double-play in the first inning, he hit a two-run single in the second, an RBI-double in the fourth, and another RBI-double in the sixth.

Defensively, Baker was slightly below average, worth five runs below average in DRS for the 2008 season. He fielded at a .991 fPct., and caught eight-of-48 runners attempting to steal.

In 2009, Baker played in a career-high 112 games for Miami and hit .271/.349/.410 with nine home runs and 50 RBI. At 0.6 WAR, it was his second-best major league season, and would remain so. He remained in Miami’s system until 2011, and totaled 212 games with the team over his four seasons. Although he completed his Marlins career with two sub-replacement seasons, he closed shop with a 1.6 career WAR for the team.

After the 2011 season, the Marlins traded Baker to the San Diego Padres for lefty starter Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc went on to post a 3-10 record and a 4.30 ERA over parts of two seasons with Miami. Baker played in 79 games over two seasons with the Padres and one year catching for the Chicago Cubs in 2014. He remained with the Cubs as a Baseball Operations Assistant after their World Series Championship season of 2016, and is signed for at least two more years. Look for Baker at the SABR Analytics Conference this coming March.

Next: Marlins 2016 Draft Class