A capable utility infielder and a World Series hero.
The Miami Marlins, and before them, the Florida Marlins, have been around for 28 seasons now.
We’re now just over a week from Spring Training baseball for season number 29, but we’re going to continue this series until its conclusion with Chapter 165 on March 31. Players are ordered in ascending value of bWAR divided by PA/BF. Today’s pair of Marlins finished a solid amount above replacement level.
53. Dave Berg
Dave Berg is a five-foot-11 right-handed infielder from Roseville, California. In 1990, the California Angels took him in the 32nd round of the draft out of Sacramento City College. Instead of beginning his professional career, Berg matriculated to the University of Miami. As a senior in 1993, he hit .371 with 48 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 58 games. Florida took him in the 38th round of the draft.
Berg was never a highly rated prospect during his rise through the minors, but he made it to the majors anyway with the Marlins in 1998. In four seasons of big league action with Florida, he hit .273/.343/.373 with 10 homers and 83 RBI. Berg drew 92 walks and struck out 190 times in 1031 plate appearances.
Going by individual game WPA, Berg’s best game with the Marlins came in 1999, on August 10 against the San Francisco Giants. He singled in the first, drew a walk and scored in the fourth, hit a two-run homer in the sixth, added a go-ahead RBI-single in the seventh, drew a walk in the 10th, and finished with a walkoff RBI-single with one out in the 12th as the Marlins won, 8-7.
After the 2001 season, the Marlins granted Berg’s free agency, and he signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays. He played three more seasons at the major league level with the North-of-the-Border outfit.
After his final game as a player in 2004, Berg eventually joined the coaching ranks. In 2010, he took on the managers’ role with the Short-season-A Jamestown Jammers, graduating to the Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2012 and the Double-A Jacksonville Suns in 2016. In 2017, he joined the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers as their hitting coach, and has since also managed the West Virginia Power. He’s currently at the helm of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, in the Texas League for the Seattle Mariners.
52. Edgar Rentería
Edgar Rentería is a six-foot-one right-handed shortstop from Barranquilla, Columbia. He signed his first professional deal with the Marlins on Valentine’s Day, 1992, over a year before they actually took the field of play at the major league level. Rentería was only 15-years-old at the time.
By the time the 1993 season was gettig underway, Rentería was ranked as the Marlins number two prospect, as well as the number 51 prospect in all of baseball. By 1996, he was 33rd overall, and Florida’s top prospect.
Rentería joined the Marlins at the top level that season, and appeared in 106 games. His performance was good enough to finish second in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting. He hit .309/.358/.399, with five round trippers 31 RBI, and 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts. He also made the NL All Star Team for the first time in 1998, when he hit .282 with 41 stolen bases. But that’s not what he’s remembered around here for.
Rentería’s walkoff game-winning RBI-single is one of the most seminal moments in Marlins history, but it wasn’t his only career-defining moment. After his All-Star season, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Armando Almanza, Braden Looper, and Pablo Ozuna.
Rentería later also played for the Boston Red Sox, the Atlanta Braves, the Detroit Tigers, the San Francisco Giants, and the Cincinnati Reds, making a total of five All Star appearances and winning three Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves. In 2010, he was named the World Series Most Valuable Player for his heroics in the Fall Classic with the Giants (see second video, above).
A solid player no doubt, but Rentería only gained 0.5 percent of the Hall of Fame vote in his first year of eligibility, in 2017.
Thanks for reading. Check back here tomorrow for another chapter of our offseason-long countdown series.