In today’s chapter, we’re taking a look at three pitchers and a former All Star first baseman in his last major league season.
The Florida and Miami Marlins have employed 630 players through their first 28 seasons of play.
In this offseason-long series, we’re taking a look back at each of them. Players are first sorted with a plate appearance/batters faced threshold. They’re further sorted in order of ascending brWAR divided by PA/BF. Today’s group is in the 250-to-799 BA/BF bracket, and all came in below replacement level.
246. Rick van den Hurk
Rick van den Hurk is a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher from Oosterhout, Netherlands. In 2002, he signed a deal to come stateside and play for the Marlins. He was 17-years-old. He steadily worked his way up through Florida’s minor league feeder system until making his debut with the parent club in 2007.
van den Hurk started in 17 of his 18 appearances with the Marlins in 2007. His best game of the year, going by GameScore, was on June 5 in a 5-1 win against the Atlanta Braves. van den Hurk struck out four and allowed only one hit over six shutout innings. Unfortunately, the rest of the season wasn’t as good.
In 81 2⁄3 innings through his rookie season, van den Hurk struck out 82. He also gave up 63 runs on 94 hits (including 15 home runs) and 58 walks. His resultant 6.83 ERA, 5.49 FIP, and 1.739 WHIP were not a sustainable solution at the major league level.
Nonetheless, van den Hurk remained with the Marlins in 2008. In four starts, his ERA ballooned to 7.71, although his FIP dropped to 3.77. He walked 10 and allowed 20 hits in only 14 innings, striking out 20 but putting up a dreadful 2.143 WHIP.
Despite a pair of questionable campaigns, the Marlins brought van den Hurk back in 2009, and had to be pleasantly surprised with the solid results. He went going 3-2 with a 4.30 ERA, striking out 49 in 58 2⁄3 innings. Although he was still very prone to the long-ball, surrendering 11, his WHIP dropped to a much more manageable 1.330 WHIP. He held opponents to a .252/.324/.473 slash line, plating 64 percent of his offerings and finishing with a positive WPA in six of his 11 starts.
With van den Hurk’s 2009 in the books, his impact as a pitcher was nearly replacement level overall, according to Baseball Reference. What tipped the scales to the negative was his inability to manage his plate appearances. He went one-for-47 with one walk and 31 K’s in 54 plate appearances. He did manage to scrape together six sacrifice hits, which is really a bonus considering how lousy he was at the plate otherwise.
van den Hurk appeared in two games out of the bullpen for the Marlins in 2010, then later joined the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hasn’t made an appearance in the majors since 2012. But that isn’t the last chapter of his baseball journey.
van den Hurk joined the Fukuoka Hawks in Nippon Professional Baseball in 2015, and spent five seasons in their rotation. In 79 appearances, he has posted a 41-17 record and a 3.50 ERA, striking out 523 in 483 1⁄3 innings. In 2015, he led the circuit with 11.61 K/9, and in 2016 ranked third with a 0.96 WHIP.
245. Brian Edmondson
Brian Edmondson was a third round pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1991. A six-foot-two right-handed pitcher, Edmondson hails from Fontana, California. By 1994, he was ranked the number six prospect in Detroit’s system. Early in 1995, the New York Mets claimed him off waivers. After the 1997 season, the Atlanta Braves chose him in the rule 5 draft.
It was with the Braves for whom Edmondson made his first major league appearance, in 1998. He played in 10 games for Atlanta, pitching 16 2⁄3 innings until getting waived on June 4.
Florida claimed Edmondson and plugged him directly into their bullpen. He came on in relief 43 times through the rest of the season, pitching 59 1⁄3 innings and striking out 32 batters. He allowed 25 earned runs on 62 hits (including eight homers) and 29 walks for a 1.53 WHIP.
Edmondson’s Achilles heel was his inability to consistently throw strikes, as shown by his 59 percent strike rate. Opponents slashed .281/.367/.489 through the season. Going by WPA, his best effort of the season was on June 8, when he struck out three over three scoreless innings. He pitched the 15th, 16th and 17th innings, earning the victory in a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Edmondson remained with the Marlins for the 1999 campaign, ranking third on the team with 68 trips out of the bullpen. He went 5-8 with a 5.84 ERA, walking 44 and striking out 58 in 94 frames. He allowed 65 runs (61 earned) on 106 hits, including 11 homers. His 74 ERA+ ranked him as the second worst qualifying pitcher on the team, also posting a 1.596 WHIP. He again pitched strikes on 59 percent of his offerings, and gave up an opposing slashline of .290/.370/.468.
There was good along with the bad and the ugly. On September 8, Edmondson struck out three in 1 2⁄3 perfect innings in a 5-4, 13-inning win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He ended up missing the entire 2000 campaign after a surgical procedure for a torn labrum and rotator cuff. Upon returning in 2001, he didn’t rise above the minor league level, splitting the season between Florida’s top three affiliates: the Triple-A Calgary Cannons, the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, and the High-A Brevard County Manatees.
Edmondson later signed minor league deals with the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians, but didn’t again get back to the major leagues.
244. Carlos Lee
Three-time All Star Carlos Lee was a six-foot-two first baseman when he joined the Miami Marlins for the final season of his major league career, in 2012. A native of Aguadulce, Panama, Lee signed his first contract with the Chicago White Sox in 1994, at the age of 17.
Lee reached the majors for the first time in 1999 with the White Sox, and was good enough that he finished seventh in the postseason American League Rookie of the Year Award voting. He played another five seasons with Chicago before making his first two All Star appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005 and 2006. Traded to the Texas Rangers at the deadline to finish 2006, he then joined the Houston Astros for five-and-a-half seasons, making another All Star team in 2007. On July 4, 2012, Houston traded Lee to the Miami Marlins for Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen.
Prior to joining the Marlins, Lee appeared in 2,018 major league games. He totaled 354 home runs and 1,315 RBI, slashing .286/.339/.491 and stealing 122 bases.
Lee played in 81 games for Miami, going 71-for-292 from the plate with 12 doubles, four homers, and 48 RBI. He drew 39 walks versus 32 strikeouts, stealing three bases without getting caught and scoring 29 runs.
Sixteen times Lee collected multiple hits in his half-season for Miami, including three times in which he totaled three. On July 17, he drew a walk in the first, singled and scored in the fourth, and hit a grand slam home run in the fifth inning of a 9-5 victory against the Chicago Cubs.
In 695 2⁄3 defensive innings for Miami, Lee made three errors in 706 chances for a solid .996 fielding percentage. They did not invite him back for an encore performance in 2013.
243. Julián Tavárez
Julián Tavárez is a six-foot-two left-handed pitcher from Santiago, Dominican Republic. In 1990, he signed his first professional deal with the Cleveland Indians, at the age of 16.
Tavárez rose through the Tribe’s system until making his major league debut for them in 1993. He played four seasons with them, but didn’t spend his rookie eligibility until 1995. In that season, he was 10-2 with a 2.44 ERA and finished sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He followed with three seasons for the San Francisco Giants, and a season each with the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs. Just prior to the 2002 season, the Cubs traded him with Jose Cueto, Ryan Jorgenson, and Dontrelle Willis to the Marlins for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement.
Tavárez fit nicely into Florida’s starting rotation, making 27 of his 29 appearances as a starter. He went 10-12 with a 5.39 ERA, allowing 92 earned runs and a 1.705 WHIP in 153 2⁄3 innings. He walked more batters (74) than he struck out (67), while surrendering 188 hits, including nine homers for an opposing slashline of .308/.395/.454. Of his 2,586 total pitches with the team, he only got 58 percent over the plate.
As a hitter, Tavárez went five-for-40 with three runs and five RBI, drawing a pair of walks and striking out 17 times. Granted free agency following the season, he went on to play one year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, two with the St. Louis Cardinals, two-and-a-half with the Boston Red Sox, a cup of coffee for the Milwaukee Brewers, half a season with the Atlanta Braves, and 2009 with the Washington Nationals. After a 17-season major league career, he was 88-82 with a 4.46 ERA.
Thanks for reading. Check back here tomorrow morning for Chapter 68, including a pitcher named “Bump.”