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Marlins' Top 5 center fielders: Frisaro's take

@JoeFrisaro
May 5, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Joe Frisaro’s ranking of the top five center fielders in Marlins history. Next week: right fielders

1. Juan Pierre, 2003-05; 2013
Key fact: Lou Brock Award winner and World Series champion in 2003

Pierre is one of the most popular and historically important players in franchise history. Acquired from the Rockies after the 2002 season in a complex and creative deal, Pierre and Mike Hampton were traded to the Marlins for Charles Johnson, Preston Wilson, Vic Darensbourg and Pablo Ozuna. Hampton was then dealt to the Braves. Pierre’s impact was immediate, starting off in Spring Training, when he set a standard that exists today with players arriving to camp extremely early every day. Pierre’s work ethic was second to none, and he was the catalyst of the '03 title team. Pierre paced the Major Leagues in stolen bases with 65, which remains a single-season team record. He received the Lou Brock Award, which is given to the player with the most stolen bases in the National League. Pierre hit .305 in 2003, played in every inning of all 162 games, scored 100 runs and had the lowest strikeout rate in the Majors (4.7%).

After winning the World Series in Game 6 against the Yankees, TV footage shows an elated Pierre sprinting toward his teammates following the final out.

"I ran fast as I ever had into the infield, and as I was running, I kind of saw my whole career flash in front of me -- from Little League to high school to college to Minor Leagues -- and just thought of all the sacrifices,” Pierre told MLB.com recently.

In 2004, Pierre batted .326. He holds the Marlins’ single-season records for singles (184), triples (13) and multihit games (70). He remains involved with the Marlins as a Minor League outfield instructor.

2. Christian Yelich, 2013-17
Key fact: Gold Glove Award winner in '14 and Silver Slugger Award winner in '16

A first-round pick by the Marlins in the 2010 MLB Draft, Yelich was a mainstay in the outfield after being called up in July 2013. He split time between left field and center field, winning a Gold Glove Award in left field in '14. In his Marlins tenure, he had a slash line of .290/.369/.432. His power blossomed after being traded to the Brewers prior to the '18 season. His highest home run total in a season with Miami was 21 in '16, when he drove in 98 runs.

"The power ticked up a little bit this year," Yelich said after winning his first Silver Slugger Award in '16. "It's kind of growing and developing, as far as having another year in the big leagues and learning yourself as a player -- and your swing. I think it was a good year. I'm trying to build on that and take it into next year."

In '17, Yelich’s final season in Miami, he hit 18 home runs and drove in 81 while hitting .282. He finished with 100 runs scored.

3. Preston Wilson, 1998-2002
Key fact: Finished second in 1999 in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting to Scott Williamson of the Reds

From 1999-2002, Wilson was a major run producer, hitting 103 home runs in that four-year span. Wilson’s 121 RBIs in '00 remained a franchise record until '17, when Giancarlo Stanton (132) and Marcell Ozuna (124) both topped that total. Wilson connected on 31 home runs in '00, and he also struck out 187 times, a club record. As a rookie in '99, Wilson led the Marlins in home runs (26) and RBIs (71). In '00, Wilson became a 30-30 player, stealing 36 bases. In his five years with the Marlins, the slugger had a slash line of .262/.333/.473 with 104 home runs and 329 RBIs.

4. Cody Ross, 2006-10
Key fact: Hit three home runs in a game against the Mets on Sept. 11, 2006

Acquiring Ross was one of the shrewdest moves pulled off by former team president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. Ross was purchased from the Reds on May 26, 2006. The right-handed-hitting, left-handed-throwing outfielder turned into a productive regular in parts of five seasons in South Florida. In '09, Ross hit 24 home runs, and he connected on 22 in '08. Ross and Mike Lowell hold the franchise record for most home runs in a game -- three. Marlins fans regularly chanted “Cody! Cody! Cody!” when he came to bat. Ross had a career slash line with the Marlins of .265/.322/.465 with 80 home runs and 297 RBIs.

5. Devon White, 1996-97
Key fact: A seven-time Gold Glove Award winner in his 17-year MLB career

White spent two seasons with the Marlins and was the starter on the 1997 World Series title team. By the time he joined the Marlins in '96, White was already a two-time All-Star and a seven-time Gold Glove Award winner. He was part of the Blue Jays’ World Series championship teams in 1992-93. In '96, White hit 17 home runs and drove in 84 runs. In the '97 season, he dealt with injuries and played in 74 regular-season games. When the postseason began, he was back in the lineup and started all seven games of the World Series.

Honorable mention
An original Marlin, Chuck Carr was with the team from 1993-95, and in the inaugural ’93 season, he stole 58 bases. He swiped 115 bases in his Marlins tenure.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.