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Marlins' Top 5 right fielders: Frisaro's take

@JoeFrisaro
May 12, 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 5 right fielders in Marlins history.

1. Giancarlo Stanton (2010-17)
Key fact: In his National League Most Valuable Player Award-winning season in 2017, Stanton set franchise records for home runs (59) and RBIs (132).

A second-round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, Stanton's selection is perhaps the biggest steal the organization has ever had. Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton was a physical phenom in high school, playing football, baseball and basketball. The then-17-year-old slugger turned down an opportunity to play football for Pete Carroll at the University of Southern California, signing for $475,000 with the Marlins.

Stanton made his MLB debut on June 8, 2010, and went by Mike as a rookie. Prior to the '12 season, he decided to publicly go by his given first name, Giancarlo, and went on to become the Marlins’ all-time leading slugger. Statistically, he is the most impactful hitter in franchise history, and his FanGraphs WAR of 34.6 is the highest of any player to wear the club’s uniform. His 267 home runs also pace the organization.

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

As feared as he was at the plate, Stanton’s tenure with the Marlins was offset by injuries. In 2014, he was having an MVP Award-caliber season when he was struck by a pitch in the face by then Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers. Despite Stanton missing the final three weeks, he still was the NL home run champion (37) and second in RBIs (105), finishing as the runner-up to Clayton Kershaw in the NL MVP Award voting. After that season, he signed a then-record 13-year, $325 million contract. A four-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner as a Marlin, Stanton had an injury-free 2017, and he became the organization’s only MVP Award winner.

Considering all the adversity he had been through, Stanton said in 2017 after being named MVP: “It's almost like a 'you-start-from-scratch' moment. You remember the thoughts you had as a kid, and when times were good and bad as a pro and in the Minors and everything building up, you just finally give thanks to that. I'll have more time to think about everything that has gone on in the season over the years, and look forward to a new journey, too."

Stanton's best season with Miami also came in his last year with the organization. The slugger was traded to the Yankees in December 2017.

2. Gary Sheffield (1993-98)
Key fact: An All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner in 1996

In 1992, Sheffield won the NL batting title, hitting .330 for the Padres. The following June, Sheffield was dealt to the Marlins in a blockbuster trade. The Marlins acquired Sheffield and pitcher Rich Rodriguez for right-handers Trevor Hoffman, Andres Berumen and Jose Martinez. Hoffman, of course, became a Hall of Fame closer. Sheffield, a Tampa, Fla., native, finished his career with 509 home runs.

From 1993-98, Sheffield hit in the heart of the Marlins’ order, and he was a big part of the '97 World Series title team. In '96, Sheffield had a monster season, belting 42 home runs and driving in 120 runs. His .465 on-base percentage and 1.090 OPS topped the NL. The 42 home runs remained a Marlins record until Stanton delivered 59 in 2017. In '97, Sheffield hit 21 home runs and added 71 RBIs. The Marlins traded Sheffield during the ’98 season to the Dodgers, and the slugger spent four seasons with Los Angeles before playing for four clubs in the final eight seasons of a 22-year MLB career. In his six seasons with the Marlins, he finished with 122 home runs and 380 RBIs, and he is regarded as one of the top players in franchise history.

3. Mark Kotsay (1997-2000)
Key fact: Holds Marlins single-season record for most outfield assists with 20 in 1998

Kotsay, the 1995 Golden Spikes Award-winning outfielder and closer from national title-winning Cal State Fullerton, was the Marlins’ ninth-round pick in the '96 MLB Draft. A left-handed hitter and thrower, he made his MLB debut the following season, playing in 14 games during the Marlins’ '97 World Series championship season. In '98, a 22-year-old Kotsay became a regular for the Marlins, appearing in 154 games.

A defensive standout, Kotsay established a franchise record with 20 outfield assists in 1998, which also tied for most in the NL. He followed that up with 19 assists in '99. Kotsay's best year at the plate came in 2000, when he had a slash line of .298/.347/.443 with 31 doubles, 12 home runs and 57 RBIs. He scored 87 runs and stole 19 bases in his final year with the organization. A contact hitter, Kotsay had a miniscule strikeout rate of 9.1 percent in 468 career games with the Marlins. Shortly before the start of the '01 season, Kotsay was traded along with Cesar Crespo to the Padres for right-hander Matt Clement, outfielder Eric Owens and Minor Leaguer Omar Ortiz.

4. Juan Encarnacion (2002-05)
Key fact: Did not commit an error in 155 games in the outfield in 2003

Encarnacion played in parts of four seasons with the Marlins after they obtained Encarnacion from the Reds as part of the Ryan Dempster trade in July 2002. He became the right fielder, and he was a significant contributor on the '03 World Series title team. During the regular season, Encarnacion batted .270 with 19 home runs and a career-high 94 RBIs. He also scored 80 runs and stole 19 bases. In the Marlins’ 2-0 Game 6 victory to close out the Yankees, Encarnacion’s sacrifice fly drove in the second run.

Encarnacion also has the distinction of being dealt after the 2003 season to the Dodgers, only to be reacquired midway through the '04 campaign by the Marlins as part of a package that sent Brad Penny to Los Angeles.

5. Jeremy Hermida (2005-09)
Key fact: Only player in MLB history to hit a pinch-hit grand slam in his first at-bat

The 11th overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft, Hermida was one of the most touted prospects in Marlins history. In his MLB debut, it appeared the left-handed-hitting outfielder from Georgia was on his way to stardom. Hermida hit a pinch-hit grand slam in his first big league plate appearance, becoming just the second player in MLB history to start off his career with a grand slam (Bill Duggleby, 1898). It has since been done twice more -- Kevin Kouzmanoff ('06) and Daniel Nava ('10) -- but Hermida is the only to do so in a pinch-hit at-bat. In five seasons with the Marlins, Hermida, however, dealt with a series of injuries and didn’t pan out as a star. In 123 games in 2007, he hit .296/.369/.501 with 18 homers -- his best season with the organization.

Honorable mentions
Ichiro Suzuki had 3,089 hits in an MLB career that spanned from 2001-19. From '15-17, Ichiro served as a backup with the Marlins, and he collected MLB hit No. 3,000 wearing a Marlins uniform in '16. … Garrett Cooper is entering his third season with the Marlins, and he has split time at first base and right field. Cooper has been the Opening Day right fielder each of the past two years. In 107 games last season, Cooper hit .281 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs.

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