2006 Florida Marlins Flashback: The Florida Marlins won World Series titles in both 1997 and 2003. They missed the playoffs every year in between, but managed to still win the title both times. It took another few years before they had a story worth telling, becoming a team that people again wanted to watch.
The 2006 Marlins team is a joke, as much as it is something exciting. The team began the year with a horrid 11-31 record. They had their one-time catcher Joe Girardi serving as the manager. Four of their five primary starting pitchers were rookies. As a matter of fact, more than half their roster for the season was comprised of rookies. There weren’t too many veterans here.
The team wound up finishing the season with a 78-84 record. They had several members of the organization win end-of-season awards. They opted to fire their manager. They didn’t even sniff the playoffs. And yet, what they did that season is not something we can just ignore.
Let’s talk about the 2006 Florida Marlins.
They had the Rookie of the Year
When they acquired Hanley Ramirez from Boston, the Marlins were acquiring an electric shortstop. Playing in a lineup laden with rookies, Hanley stood out among the crowd. He finished that first season with a .292 batting average and .393 on-base percentage. He recorded 185 hits, including 46 doubles, 11 triples and 17 home runs.
Ramirez drove in 59 runs on the year while serving as the leadoff hitter. He stole 51 bases, and scored a team-high 119 runs. Ramirez had played well at the end of the prior year for the Red Sox, and was clearly ready to be a big-leaguer who could start every game.
Ramirez wound up beating out the competition in what was a very exciting race for the Rookie of the Year award. Hanley played for the Marlins until 2012, when they sent him to the Dodgers. He wound up as the NL MVP runner-up in 2009.
They Only Had One Starting Pitcher Older Than 25
Have you ever heard of Brian Moehler? Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t. Moehler pitched in 332 games over the course of 14 years in the majors, starting 252 of them. He had a career 4.81 ERA, and a record of 84-107. He never had more than 123 K’s in a season.
What’s relevant about Moehler, exactly? He was the Marlins oldest starting pitcher by more than nine years during the 2006 season. At 34 years of age, he had almost on 25-year-old Sergio Mitre.
Five different pitchers, four of whom were rookies, won 10+ games for the Marlins. They got 12 apiece from their ace Dontrelle Willis, Scott Olsen and Josh Johnson. Ricky Nolasco won 11, while Anibal Sanchez won 10. The ages of the pitchers mentioned (in order) are: 24, 22, 22, 23 and 22. Talk about youth.
Nolasco’s ERA was close to 5.00, but the other four pitchers were all between 2-4. Sanchez led the way with a 2.83 ERA, and we know he went on to throw multiple no-hitters. 23-year-old Jason Vargas made five starts, while 21-year-old Yusmeiro Petit made one.
In total, the Marlins tossed a rookie starting pitcher out 95 times. And that means they only began 67 games with a “veteran” out there.
Joe Girardi Won Manager of the Year and Got Fired
The 2006 NL Manager of the Year was none other than Joe Girardi. Funnily enough, he was a rookie as well. This was his first time serving as a manager in the majors. He clashed with owner Jeffrey Loria throughout the season. The team opened the year with an 11-31 record. But, they never quit.
Though the playoffs were never truly in sight, Miami did find themselves over .500 in the middle of September. He took a team that was loaded with rookies (and the great Miguel Cabrera), and had them winning (shoutout to Dan Uggla and Mike Jacobs, along with Josh Willingham. They hit the cover off the ball).
The outside influence of Loria was clearly negatively impacting the team. But, Girardi kept his guys focused. Managing a team that is run by one of the worst owners in sports is never easy. And it is safe to say that the job done here was one that was more impressive than most folks could have done if given the chance.
And as the story goes, they fired Girardi on October 3, just after the regular season ended. And at this point, Loria yelling at umpires could now happen without the manager stepping in. That is a large reason for the firing. He wanted to show that he had the power, and could do whatever he wanted to.
Girardi, as we all know, went on to manage the New York Yankees. They won the World Series in 2009, his first year at the helm there. Good for him. He deserved it.
Thank You for Reading
Well, you’ve made it to the end! Thank you Afor reading. I’ve been enjoying putting these Flashback Friday pieces together in recent weeks, as a nice form of reminiscing.
I hope that the nostalgia you were craving could be met by reading this. Plenty more to come. I’m just getting started.