For some MLB teams, it is easy to rate their history as either successful or unsuccessful. For example, the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals have rich, successful histories peppered with championships. Meanwhile, teams like the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies have lost a majority of their games, with successes here and there. Arguably the hardest club to categorize is the Miami Marlins. Their performance has been, on the whole, underwhelming. With an all-time record of 2,088–2,438, they own the lowest winning percentage (.461) of any current MLB team. However, in their first decade of existence, the then-Florida Marlins managed to win two World Series. Until their third postseason appearance in 2020, they had never lost a playoff series. The pieces of those teams, along with some players who stood out in losing seasons, give the Marlins a good tapestry of players to form an all-time team. So without further ado, here it is:
Marlins All-Time Team
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto (2014-2018)
Now one of the prime catchers in baseball, Realmuto started out strong with the Marlins. Although the team was not very good during his tenure, he was a dependable hitter by catcher’s standards. In five years in Miami, Realmuto hit .279 with a .768 OPS. He racked up 30 or more doubles in each of his last three seasons with the team. During his last season with the team in 2018, he set then career-highs in several offensive categories, leading to his first career All-Star selection and Silver Slugger Award.
First Baseman: Derrek Lee (1998-2003)
Lee came into his own as a hitter during his days in Florida. He had 20 or more homers every season from 2000-03 and 30+ doubles from 2001-03. Lee was one of the top run producers on the ’03 squad that won it all. With a .888 OPS (a career-high up to that point), he hit 31 homers that year, 31 doubles, and drove in 92 runs. He also won a Gold Glove that year. Unfortunately for Marlins fans, Lee became part of Florida’s post-title fire sale like they had in the ’97 offseason. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Hee-Seop Choi, and went on to enjoy his best offensive seasons there. Had the Marlins been able to keep Lee, they may have been in the playoff conversation much more in subsequent years.
Second Baseman: Luis Castillo (1996-2005)
Castillo spent his first ten seasons with the Marlins, where he gained a reputation as a speedster and defensive whiz who could also hit for average. He twice led the National League in steals, including an impressive 62 in 2000. He also won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 2003-05, his last three years with the team. Castillo hit over .300 in five of his ten seasons in Miami and was a three-time All-Star by the end of that stint. His long tenure with the Marlins, all-around skill, and his being one of the few players on both Marlins championship teams land him on this all-time team.
Third Baseman: Mike Lowell (1999-2005)
Another important run producer for the Marlins in the early 2000’s, Mike Lowell drove in 85 or more runs every season from 2000-04, eclipsing 100 RBI twice in that span. He had an OPS over .800 in four of those seasons and made three straight All-Star teams from 2002-04. Averaging 20 home runs across seven seasons is nothing to sneeze at, either. By the time he was traded to the Boston Red Sox after 2005, he had a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove, and a World Series title under his belt.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez (2006-2012)
Probably the most exciting player the Marlins had during a rough period for them, Hanley Ramirez burst onto the scene after being acquired from the Red Sox in a multiplayer deal. He won NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2006, hitting .292 with a .833 OPS, 185 hits, 46 doubles, and 51 stolen bases. For the next four seasons, he hit over .300, including a .342 average in 2009 which won him the NL batting title. Ramirez finished second in MVP voting that year, helping lead the Marlins to a rare winning season and second-place finish, despite missing the postseason. Ramirez won two Silver Sluggers and was a three-time All-Star during his stint with the Marlins.
Left Fielder: Miguel Cabrera (2003-2007)
Cabrera’s tenure with the Marlins constituted one of the most impressive starts to a career in major league history. At age 20, he became an important piece of Florida’s title run in his rookie season. This was especially true in the NLCS, when he hit .333 to help them back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Cubs. He racked up ten hits and slugged three homers, including a clutch three-run bomb to set the tone early in Game Seven. Over the next four years, Cabrera fully blossomed into a superstar. In all four years, he made the All-Star team and had 100+ RBI. From 2005-2007, he hit over .320 each year, including a stellar .339 average in 2006. Of course, Miggy later went into an even higher gear with the Detroit Tigers, but his tenure in Florida laid the foundation for a Hall of Fame career.
Center Fielder: Juan Pierre (2003-2005, 2013)
In his original three-year stint with the Marlins, Pierre established himself as one of the premier leadoff hitters in the game. Without missing a single game in those three years, he became known as a high-average hitter and a constant threat on the basepaths. In 2003, Pierre led the NL in steals with 65. In ’04, he led in triples (12) and hits (221). He also led the league in being caught stealing all three years, but that just goes to show how often he ran once on base. He hit .301 in the 2003 playoffs, serving as a constant table-setter atop the lineup that won it all.
Right Fielder: Giancarlo Stanton (2010-2017)
Another star player who had the misfortune of playing on some bad Marlins teams, Giancarlo Stanton became one of the most renowned sluggers in the game despite limited national exposure. Originally playing under the name Mike Stanton, he made four All-Star teams and slugged at least 22 homers in all eight seasons in Miami. In 2014, he led the NL in homers (37), slugging percentage (.555), and total bases (299). However, his pinnacle came in 2017, his last year with the Marlins. With an insane 59 homers (a number not seen since Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire), 132 RBI, and 1.007 OPS, he became the first Marlin in history to win NL MVP. Stanton remains the all-time franchise leader in home runs (267), RBI (672), total bases (1,983), and slugging percentage (.554).
Designated Hitter: Gary Sheffield (1993-1998)
A journeyman who put up Hall of Fame-level numbers in a two-decade career, Sheff enjoyed some of his best offensive seasons with the Marlins. He hit 122 of his 509 career homers with Florida (his second most with any team, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers), drove in 380 runs (his most with any team), and won a World Series to boot. Sheffield had a career year in 1996, hitting .314 with 42 homers, 120 RBI, and a league-leading 1.090 OPS. His fearsome presence at the plate and his trademark bat wiggle remain well-remembered to this day.
Starting Pitcher: Josh Beckett (2001-2005)
While Josh Beckett’s career didn’t peak until after his departure from the Marlins, Miami is where he gained a reputation as a big-game pitcher. His 2003 season was fairly good, as he went 9–8 with a 3.04 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 142 innings pitched. However, that October, Beckett really shined. He had at least one stellar performance in all three playoff series. In the Fall Classic against the Yankees, he took home MVP honors by capping the series with a complete-game shutout in Game Six. He finished it off himself by tagging Jorge Posada running to first. In short, there is no one-time Marlins pitcher you’d want more in a big game than Beckett, and that’s what gets him on this all-time team.
Forming the relief corps for the Marlins all-time team is a mix-and-match task. After all, they’ve never been known for having a formidable bullpen. However, a few notable names from Marlins history could be assembled into a force to be reckoned with. Dontrelle Willis came up as a starter and became a big name. He lost his dominance, though, and eventually became a reliever. He would fit in nicely on this roster as a long man out of the pen. The Marlins’ all-time saves leader remains Robb Nen, who joined the team in their inaugural 1993 season. With back-to-back 35-save campaigns and 108 overall as a Marlin, Nen seems the logical closer. Steve Cishek became a very good closer in his own right in Miami, pitching to a 2.86 ERA in six seasons with 94 saves. His consistency and versatility make the sidearmer a good choice as the setup man. He could also close if necessary.
Manager: Jack McKeon (2003-2005, 2011)
Although Jim Leyland was the first manager to lead the Marlins out of mediocrity by winning the 1997 World Series, what McKeon accomplished in 2003 was nothing short of miraculous. Taking over the helm after Jeff Torborg’s firing in early May, he led Florida to a 75–49 record down the stretch, good enough to get in as the NL Wild Card. They then scored upset victories in each playoff series, defeating the NL-best San Francisco Giants in four, the Cubs in an intense seven-game battle, and finally the Yankees in six to win it all. While they didn’t make the playoffs in the next two years, Florida finished with a respectable 83–79 record both times. McKeon briefly returned in 2011, making him the second-oldest manager in MLB history behind Connie Mack. Whatever buttons he pushed in 2003 clearly worked, so it makes sense for McKeon to helm the Marlins’ all-time roster.
Dan Uggla (Second Base, 2006-2010)
Christian Yelich (Left Field, 2013-2017)
Ivan Rodriguez (Catcher, 2003)
Edgar Renteria (Shortstop, 1996-1998)
The Marlins have not fared well throughout most of their history. However, they overcame the odds twice with a very good roster each time. Even as they endured losing seasons, a star player or two would tend to emerge. So this all-time roster, while not as stacked as others, would have a fighting chance against any of them. Even teams who’ve often struggled find ways to produce or acquire star talent every now and then. In the Marlins’ case, the best players they’ve had at each position look like an excellent group filled with All-Stars, and even some Hall of Fame-caliber players.
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J.T. Realmuto, Derrek Lee, Hee-Seop Choi, Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera, Juan Pierre, Giancarlo Stanton, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Gary Sheffield, Josh Beckett, Jorge Posada, Dontrelle Willis, Robb Nen, Steve Cishek, Jack McKeon, Jim Leyland, Jeff Torborg, Connie Mack, Dan Uggla, Christian Yelich, Ivan Rodriguez, Edgar Renteria