D-Train, Niño among Miami's top nicknames

February 14th, 2021

Nicknames often are used to express affection -- either through endearment, amusement or both. A baseball team that spends 162 regular-season games, plus Spring Training and the playoffs (for the lucky few) together, can become a family. Nicknames can signify togetherness.

Over the years, the Marlins have had their fair share of popular nicknames that teammates and fans alike have enjoyed. Some, like "Miggy" (Miguel Cabrera), "LoMo" (Logan Morrison) and "The Hammer" (Josh Willingham), play off a name. Others, like "Starlin the Marlin" (Starlin Castro) and "Jarlin the Marlin" (Jarlin García) have obvious origins. Then there were veterans like "Pudge" (Iván Rodríguez), "The Hawk" (Andre Dawson) and "El Caballo" (Carlos Lee) who received their nicknames well before joining the organization.

Here are the best nicknames in Marlins history (in no particular order).

"D-Train" --
Willis took the Majors by storm during his NL Rookie of the Year Award-winning season in 2003. The 21-year-old left-hander showcased a unique delivery and infectious smile, going 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 27 regular-season starts, including two shutouts and a one-hitter. Everyone hopped on the bandwagon, tilting their caps to the side and wearing their socks high like the charismatic Willis, who helped lead the underdog Marlins to their second World Series title. After his breakout campaign, the Marlins did a D-Train conductor hat giveaway. Willis ranks first in franchise history in complete games (15) and shutouts (eight), second in pitching WAR (17.2) and wins (68), and fifth in ERA (3.78).

"The Big Bear" --
The slugger kept getting called "Ozo" while in Class A Advanced. "Oso" in Spanish means "bear," and at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, it only made sense to give him that moniker. From 2013-17, Ozuna showcased his hitting prowess by making two All-Star teams, collecting 96 homers and winning a Silver Slugger Award. One season, the Marlins even gave away a 90s-inspired T-shirt with him in cartoon bear form.

"El Pulpo" --
Alfonseca is polydactyl, meaning he has an extra digit on each hand and foot, and "El Pulpo" is Spanish for "The Octopus." The right-handed reliever compiled a 3.86 ERA and saved 102 games, including an MLB-high 45 in 2000, for the Marlins from 1997-01 and '05. Alfonseca, who was also known as "The Dragonslayer," didn't allow a run in 6 1/3 innings as a rookie during the '97 World Series.

"The Entertainer" --
The nickname says it all. Alvarez's quirky personality shined when he was on the mound for the Marlins from 2013-15. The right-hander pitched an unconventional no-hitter to close the '13 season, then made the All-Star team in '14 as he led the Majors with three shutouts. Whether it was his quick pace, facial expressions or mannerisms -- his pre-delivery occasionally looked like a bow as he bent over with his arms stretched in front of him -- Alvarez relished putting on a show.

"Chicken" --
Third-base coach Rich Donnelly's late daughter Amy once joked that when her father coached the runner on second, he probably used a code phrase such as "The chicken runs at midnight." In 1997, Donnelly's sons gave Counsell the nickname "Chicken" because of his unusual batting stance. With hands held high and a bend in his back leg, the rookie infielder would flap his arms as he awaited the pitch like a chicken at the plate. When the Marlins won the World Series that October, Counsell scored the walk-off run in Game 7 ... just after midnight.

"Niño" -- Jose Fernandez
When the late Fernández debuted in 2013 at 20, he pitched well beyond his age and quickly became an ace. The right-hander went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA, earning the NL Rookie of the Year Award and finishing third in NL Cy Young Award voting. Teammates and fans alike affectionately referred to him as "niño" or "boy" in Spanish, because of his youthful exuberance. The Cuban-born Fernández was never without a smile -- showing plenty of emotion on and off the mound.

"Mr. Marlin" --
"Niner" holds the distinction of being the only Marlins player to be on both World Series teams (1997, 2003). He also was an original member of the expansion franchise, appearing in all 162 games and finishing third for the NL Rookie of the Year Award in '93. In eight seasons with the Marlins, Conine hit 120 homers, posted a 114 OPS+ and won All-Star Game MVP in '95. His son, Griffin, ranks as Miami's No. 18 prospect.

"Toy Cannon" --
During the 2008 season, Ross showed off his strong arm by recording eight assists (seven in center field) and committing just one total error (in right) across 133 games. His seven assists ranked fourth and his perfect fielding percentage first, respectively, among NL center fielders. Then-outfield coach Bo Porter felt Ross deserved to win a Gold Glove Award for his play. Ross, who also had the nickname "Ross the Boss," was one of the few Major Leaguers to bat right-handed and throw left-handed. The slugger hit 22 of his 132 career homers in '08, and he notched the second three-homer game in Marlins history two years earlier.

"The Amazing Amezaga" --
A fan favorite from 2006-09, the utility player returned for a second stint to end his career in '11. Though Amezaga was no stranger to highlight-reel plays, this nickname plays off alliteration and a Mexican Pacific League gem the FOX Sports Florida broadcast crew uncovered. In it, Amezaga dives deep into the hole at short and makes a no-look throw to second base for the forceout, so improbable it could only be explained by magic.

"Joltin' Bonifacio" --

This isn't an official nickname, rather the creative genius of longtime Marlins beat reporter Joe Frisaro. A play on the Les Brown song "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio," Frisaro came up with it during the 2011 season, when Bonifácio recorded a 26-game hit streak -- tied for second in franchise history.

Honorable mentions:

"All-time" -- Lenny Harris

"La Pantera" -- Adeiny Hechavarría

"The Hopper" -- Burke Badenhop

"Big Salad" -- Tom Koehler

"Sweet Lew" -- Lewis Brinson

"Dr. K" -- Caleb Smith

"Sea Bass" -- Alex Gonzalez

"Big Bird" -- Justin Nicolino

"Unicorn" -- Brad Ziegler

"Shrek" -- Steve Cishek

"Big Fudge" -- Jake Marisnick

"Steckasaurus" -- Drew Steckenrider