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Marlins’ Top 5 left fielders: Frisaro's take

@JoeFrisaro
April 28, 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 to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Joe Frisaro’s ranking of the top 5 left fielders in Marlins history. Next week: center field.

1. Cliff Floyd, 1997-2002
Key fact: An All-Star in 2001, when he belted 31 home runs and drove in 103

A 24-year-old on the 1997 World Series championship team, Floyd blossomed into an All-Star in 2001. The left-handed-hitting slugger ranks as the Marlins’ best all-time left fielder. As part of putting together these lists, we limited players to one position. Since Miguel Cabrera was second at third base, he wasn’t eligible to be ranked among the left fielders. And Jeff Conine topped our all-time list at first base. Still, nothing can diminish Floyd’s impact with the Marlins in parts of six seasons, during which his FanGraphs WAR was 16.3.

Marlins' Top 5: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS

Floyd's 2001 campaign ranks among the greatest of any player in club history. His slash line was .317/.390/.578 with 31 home runs, 123 runs scored and 103 RBIs. Floyd’s fWAR for that season was 6.5. In club history, just three left-handed hitters have topped 30 home runs in a season -- Carlos Delgado (33 in 2005), Mike Jacobs (32 in '08) and Floyd.

Floyd played with plenty of passion and confidence, and he savored the spotlight.

“I enjoy the spotlight,” he said during his playing days. “I enjoy it when people see what I’m doing, and see me busting my butt out there.”

During his days as general manager of the Mets, Steve Phillips once said of Floyd: “Not too many parks can contain this guy.”

Floyd played parts of 17 seasons, including six with the Marlins -- his longest tenure with any franchise. As a Marlin, he connected on 110 home runs with 409 RBIs. His OPS was an impressive .898 before being dealt to the Expos in a blockbuster trade in July 2002. It brought back right-hander Carl Pavano and infielder Mike Mordecai. The Marlins had originally acquired Floyd in late 1997 from the Expos, and he appeared in 61 games for the eventual World Series champions. Floyd became a regular in '98, but injuries hindered him in '99 and 2000.

2. Marcell Ozuna, 2013-17
Key fact: A two-time National League All-Star starter (2016-17)

In 2017, Giancarlo Stanton set a franchise record with 59 homers and won the NL MVP Award. Still, a case could also be made that Ozuna was equally as valuable to the Marlins that season. Ozuna had a slash line of .312/.376/.548 with career highs in homers (37) and RBIs (124). Nicknamed “Big Bear,” Ozuna had a FanGraphs WAR of 5.0 in ’17, and he was voted in by the fans as a starting outfielder in the All-Star Game.

"I remember how raw he was coming up, but I could see it," Stanton said of Ozuna in 2017. "There would be like two-week stretches. I was like, 'If this guy can sustain this, he's going to be up in the top in the league.' That's what he's done the past two years. I stay on him to keep him there. We stay on each other. But it's been fun."

Ozuna also was an All-Star in 2016, and he started in center field due to injuries. In his five seasons with Miami, Ozuna hit 96 home runs and drove in 361 runs. He was traded to the Cardinals after the '17 season in a deal that included Sandy Alcantara.

3. Josh Willingham, 2004-08
Key fact: Back-to-back 20-plus home run seasons from 2006-07

Nicknamed “Hammer,” Willingham was a shortstop prospect in the Marlins’ system at the same time Cabrera was. Aware of how talented Cabrera was, Willingham told the organization he would play anywhere if that would help his chances to reach the big leagues. The Marlins experimented with him at catcher, but he had some back issues, so that didn’t last long. Willingham moved to left field, and he was a fixture there for three seasons. From 2006-07, he hit in the middle of the order and was a steady run producer, belting 26 home runs in ’06 and 21 in ’07.

4. Chris Coghlan, 2009-13
Key fact: NL Rookie of the Year Award winner in 2009

An infielder at the University of Mississippi and for most of his Minor League career, Coghlan switched to left field out of necessity in 2009. And with the way he was hitting at Triple-A New Orleans, posting a .344 batting average, he was the logical choice to be promoted. Then-Marlins special assistant Andre Dawson went to New Orleans and worked with Coghlan on transitioning to left field. The results paid off. After being promoted to the big leagues, he batted .321 with a .390 on-base percentage, scoring 84 runs in 128 games en route to ROY honors. However, his csing season.

5. Logan Morrison, 2010-13
Key fact: Had 23 home runs and 72 RBIs in 2011, his first full season in the big leagues

In 2005, the Marlins had five first-round Draft picks, including two in the supplemental phase. None of them really panned out. But that same year, the Marlins selected Morrison, who a few years later ranked among the top prospects in baseball, in the 22nd round. Morrison’s four-year tenure with the Marlins never quite lived up to expectations, largely because of injuries. In '11, the final season of the organization playing at Hard Rock Stadium (home of the Miami Dolphins), Morrison hit 23 home runs with 72 RBIs. From that point, he dealt with knee and foot injuries, finishing his Marlins career with a slash line of .249/.337/.427 with 42 home runs and 162 RBIs.

Honorable mentions
Moises Alou falls into the same category as a number of former Marlins who spent just one season with the organization. On the 1997 World Series team, Alou had an All-Star season with a .292 batting average, 23 homers and 115 RBIs. … Kevin Millar was a fan favorite in Miami long before he became a television personality. From '98-2002, he split time at first base and left field. With Derrek Lee at first in '01, Millar played mostly left field, hitting 20 homers with 85 RBIs and a 3.4 fWAR. … Justin Ruggiano, acquired from the Astros in '12, hit .313 in 91 games that season. In '13, Ruggiano belted 18 home runs.

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