Anyone who predicted the Florida Marlins would win the World Series before the season started is a liar. So how did a team eight games below .500 in May become the World Champion?

Baseball analysts will look toward the Marlins’ incredible speed at the top of their lineup, their young pitching and the brilliance of Manager Jack McKeon. Unquestionably these were all important parts to Florida’s championship run. Simply put, the Marlins made all the right moves.

It all began in January when the Marlins picked up the best free agent on the market in future Hall-of-Famer Pudge Rodriguez . A dried-up market and questions about his health led Rodriguez to South Beach to prove he was still a top player in the league. Rodriguez provided numerous late inning heroics for Florida and hit .313 with a .912 OPS in the playoffs. Not only did he prove his worth to everyone in major league baseball, he got a World Championship out of the deal.

They also made the best trade of the 2003 season, picking up Juan Pierre from Colorado. Pierre was in the top five in hits this season and was a threat every time he got on the base paths. Perhaps no Marlin changed the game more than Pierre.

In May, the Marlins made the best regular season call-up when Dontrelle Willis came to Miami. The D-Train electrified the sagging Marlins, going 9-1 with a 2.08 ERA to earn an All-Star spot. In June, they made another solid move in calling up 21-year-old Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera hit .282 with eight home runs and 48 RBIs after the All-Star break for the Marlins. But Cabrera saved his best for the postseason, smacking a team-best four homeruns and scoring 11 runs.

The Marlins also made the best deadline moves of any team in the league. They picked up Jeff Conine from Orioles and Ugueth Urbina from Texas, who both played huge roles in the postseason. Conine hit .367 in the postseason and tied the team lead with 22 hits and Urbina picked up four saves and had 14 strikeouts in the postseason. But the biggest move the Marlins made was not trading Mike Lowell. Before he was injured, Lowell was the Marlins’ best player and had a breakout season.

Florida also had the best firing of the 2003 season. Replacing Jeff Torborg with Jack McKeon is the reason the Marlins are World Series champs. Trader Jack inspired the young team to the best record in Major League Baseball from May on, riding that momentum all the way to the World Series.

Like an I.V. pimp, the Marlins made all the right moves.