Nationals are Marlins’ antithesis in postseason


Nationals are Marlins’ antithesis in postseason

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The 2003 Marlins celebrate after their World Series win against the Yankees. That’s 20-year-old rookie Miguel Cabrera at lower left. (AP file photo)

The Nationals endured another crushing Game 5 loss Thursday in their division series against the Cubs, dropping the Nats to 0-4 in four postseason series since 2012. 

That left the franchise at 0-5 for the postseason, including the Expos’ 1981 National League Championship Series loss to the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, the Braves haven’t won a postseason series since 2001, dropping six consecutive division series in the past 16 seasons as well as their only appearance in the wild-card game in 2012.

And so, this seems a good time to note one of the strangest statistics in postseason history in any sport, and it belongs to another team in the National League East. We speak of the Marlins.

The Miami Marlins, formerly the Florida Marlins, have never won a division title, but they won two World Series, in 1997 and 2003. 

Each time they gained entry to the postseason via the NL wild-card berth – there was only one wild card in each league in those years – and then marched through the division series, NLCS and World Series. In 1997, they swept the NL West champion Giants in three games in the division series, beat the NL East champion Braves in a six-game LCS, and beat the Indians in a thrilling seven-game World Series.

Former owner Wayne Huizenga blew up that team or else the Marlins would’ve likely had a good chance to repeat in 1998, considering almost every key member of that ’97 team was under contract for at least another season and most for multiple seasons. 

The Marlins didn’t return to the postseason again until 2003, but certainly made the most of the opportunity once again.

They won the wild-card berth, again beat the NL West champion Giants in a division series (this time requiring four games instead of three), then beat the Cubs in a seven-game LCS before taking down the Yankees in a six-game World Series.

The Marlins haven’t been back to the postseason since 2003. Since then, the NL East brethren Phillies have won two NL pennants and a World Series, and the Mets played in two league championship series (2006, 2015) and won the latter.

Still, over the past two decades only one NL East team has won two World Series, and that’s the team that’s failed to win even one division title. The Marlins. In fact, their two World Series titles are as many as the rest of the division teams combined have won since the Marlins came into existence in 1993.

The Marlins and their faithful hope they won’t have to wait much longer for a return to the postseason, now that they’re under a new ownership group that includes CEO Derek Jeter, the former Yankees great. 

Jeter, by the way, went 9-for-26 (.346) with three doubles for the Yankees in that 2003 World Series loss against the Marlins. He had a .308 average and .838 OPS in 158 career postseason games including a .321 average and .832 OPS in 38 World Series games. 

In other words, he was almost as good in the postseason as the Marlins have been in their limited but prosperous postseason sojourns.

To repeat, that’s 0-4 in four postseason series for the Nationals, 0-6 in postseason series over the past 16 years for the Braves, and 6-0 in six all-time postseason series for the Marlins.

The Marlins: No division titles, no postseason losses, two World Series championships. That’s a statistic tough to match.

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