Despite playing for seven different teams over the course of his 17-year Major League career, Cliff Floyd produced a solid big league career and was well-regarded by his teammates and fans.
Over his 17 years, Floyd played for the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, and San Diego Padres.
His career story is one of struggle and perseverance.
Cliff Floyd pic.twitter.com/pOYRmC4iTb
— Late 90’s to mid 2000’s MLB Power Hitters (@MLBPowerHitters) June 27, 2022
From top prospect to struggling young outfielder, from All-Star slugger to battling injuries, Floyd ended his career as a fondly-remembered player who still contributes to the game as a broadcaster and analyst, providing useful insight into the game for both old and new fans.
Cornelius Clifford Floyd Jr. was born on December 5, 1972, in Chicago, Illinois to parents Olivia and Cornelius Floyd Sr.
An only child for much of his early life, Floyd grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and became interested in athletics early on, playing baseball, basketball, and football.
He excelled in these sports from a young age and would go on to become a three-sport star athlete at Thornwood High School.
In his early years, Floyd was a big fan of the Chicago White Sox, idolizing Harold Baines.
Entering high school at a staggering 6-foot-4, Floyd’s main passion was basketball and he had hoped to play in the NBA.
He was an immediate success on the basketball team at Thornwood, leading the team to the playoffs.
Despite his stature and basketball success, Floyd’s abilities on the baseball diamond overshadowed his basketball career.
He helped to lead Thornwood to an Illinois state baseball championship in his senior year, and in his last two seasons at Thornwood amassed a batting average over .500 and was a big power threat.
Floyd’s success on the diamond earned him much attention from scouts representing Major League teams as well as colleges around the country.
After weighing scholarship offers from a number of schools including Stanford, Arizona State, and committing to attend Creighton University, Floyd decided to sign with the Montreal Expos after they drafted him in the first round of the 1991 MLB draft.
After signing with the Expos, Floyd reported to the Gulf Coast League at just 18 years of age.
His young age did little to deter him, as he quickly tore through the Expos’ farm system, displaying immense power and hitting ability.
He was named The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year Award in 1993.
At just 21 years old, Floyd was soon called up to the Major Leagues later that year, becoming the youngest player in the National League at the time.
In his 21 big league at-bats in 1993, Floyd collected seven hits and hit his first Major League home run.
In 1994, Floyd’s former minor league manager Jim Tracy noted:
“This guy went a little bit beyond anything you can possibly imagine from a baseball player. At the plate, it doesn’t matter if it’s a righthander or a lefthander pitching. If you make a mistake, Cliff will make you pay for it.”
Floyd would go on to play in 100 games the following year in Montreal during the strike-shortened season, hitting .281 but showing little of the power he had displayed in high school and in the minor leagues.
Floyd would go on to play just two more seasons with the Expos, 1995 and 1996.
He struggled, playing just 29 games with the big league club in 1995 after a devastating wrist injury kept him unable to swing a bat or field a baseball properly.
Still recovering from the debilitating wrist injury he suffered the year prior, Floyd began the 1996 season in AAA but was soon called up later that April.
It was a better year for the young outfielder, as he was able to able to play in 117 games, generally avoided any nagging injuries, and showed more promise with the bat.
While his batting average and on-base percentage were improving, Floyd’s power numbers were still disappointing.
He hit just seven home runs in these two years combined.
Trending towards being considered a “bust,” the Expos traded Floyd to the newly founded Florida Marlins for Joe Orsulak and Dustin Hermanson.
The promising but underperforming former number one prospect would get a fresh start in the sunshine state.
The Marlins won the 1997 World Series over the Cleveland Indians, but Floyd was not a big reason why.
He became more of a role player on the team, pinch hitting when needed and spot starting when someone needed an off day.
Appearing in just over a third of the Marlins games, Floyd hit six home runs and batted only .234.
Despite winning the World Series, ownership was looking to sell the team and instituted a fire sale, trading away numerous players integral to the Marlins’ championship team, including two outfielders in Moises Alou and Devon White.
Now infamous, the Marlins’ fire sale proved to be a turning point in Floyd’s young career.
By trading away two outfielders, the Marlins had given Floyd the opportunity to play every day and planned to build the future of the team around the once-promising prospect.
Increased playing time proved fruitful for Floyd, as he had his best season yet in 1998.
Despite playing on a team who would go on to finish with 108 losses and in the cellar of the N.L. East Division, Floyd showed the power that had been missing his first few years in the league.
He hit 22 home runs, batted .282, and drove in 90 runs.
He also showed remarkable speed, stealing a career-high 27 bases.
Still just 25 years old, Floyd’s 1998 campaign proved he was capable of being a solid Major League player.
Floyd played just 69 games the following season due to nagging injuries but still put up solid numbers considering the amount of time he missed.
He batted over .300 for the first time and reached base almost 40% of the time.
In just 251 at bats, Floyd was able to hit 11 home runs, on pace for a total in the mid-20s if he had played a full season.
With one good season followed by a promising but short one, Floyd went into the 2000 season determined to put it all together and be the player he was expected to be as a young prospect.
He delivered, once again hitting over 20 home runs, batting .300, and driving in nearly 100 runs, an eerily similar season to 1998.
Despite having another wrist surgery following the year, Floyd built upon the 2000 season with an even better one the following year, improving in every offensive category.
He hit over 30 home runs for the first time in his career and continued to show excellent contact skills as well, hitting .317.
Floyd was selected to the All-Star Game that July in Seattle, the first and only All-Star selection of his career.
After a disappointing beginning to a promising career, Floyd had turned a corner and was now a feared National League hitter and an All-Star.
The Marlins fire sale may still be controversial today, but it was a blessing to the young outfielder’s career.
Floyd was traded for the second time prior to the 2002 trade deadline, this time back to where he started in Montreal in a deal involving seven other players.
He spent just two weeks with the Expos in his second stint before they traded him once again to the Boston Red Sox, where he was reunited with former teammate Pedro Martinez.
The Red Sox were trailing the Anaheim Angels by just one game in the A.L. Wildcard race and needed additional firepower in their lineup.
Floyd at this point had been traded three times before reaching the age of 30 and had become dismayed by constantly switching teams.
“Hopefully, this will be my last stop in terms of trades and all this junk. I’m a free agent at the end of this season, but hopefully we won’t even go that far. Hopefully, I can sit and still play with a team that’s pretty much stacked in every area” he said after learning he had been dealt to Boston.
Between three teams in 2002, Floyd had another productive season, hitting 21 home runs and batting .288 with an on-base percentage nearing .400.
In January of 2003, Floyd and the New York Mets agreed on a four-year contract worth $26 million.
The Mets had seen Floyd quite a bit from his time on the Expos and Marlins, two fellow N.L. East clubs.
New York was looking to make a run that year and wanted to add another power bat in the middle of their lineup.
They added Floyd to a roster that included catcher Mike Piazza, infielder Roberto Alomar, and pitcher Tom Glavine, a roster that should have had the ability to compete in the division.
The Mets season ended up being a disaster, as they finished dead last in the division and finished with a disappointing 66-95 record.
Floyd once again missed some time due to injury, but still put up a solid season that included 18 home runs and a .290 batting average.
The next season turned out to be similar for both Floyd and his Mets.
The team finished with just 71 wins while Floyd missed significant time with various injuries.
At this point in his career, it looked like Floyd was at another turning point.
While his previous two seasons were not bad per se, Floyd’s injury history was beginning to take a toll.
While many were beginning to consider Floyd as a sometimes solid but undependable player, he entered the 2005 season healthier than he had been in years and went on to have the best season of his career.
Batting in the heart of the Mets’ lineup, Floyd clobbered 34 home runs and even showed some speed on the basepaths, notching 12 stolen bases.
Unfortunately, Floyd could not keep up with his 2005 pace and in 2006 had another down year.
While the Mets would go on to make the National League Championship Series that year, Floyd again struggled to stay on the field and his offensive production suffered because of it.
It was the final year of his contract with the Mets.
Floyd returned to his hometown of Chicago in 2007, signing an incentive-laden contract for just one year.
In August of that year, Floyd’s father died after battling multiple health issues throughout the year.
Returning to Chicago helped Floyd to spend more time with his father and the two became closer than ever before his death.
In 2020, Floyd told former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster:
“If you don’t believe in God, you have to believe in something. That was fate. That was everything that I know had to happen for me to see my pops. More than I saw him in my career. That was always going to be one of my special years.”
On the field, Floyd again battled injuries and missed over 50 games.
While his hitting abilities were still solid when playing, injuries had zapped Floyd of his power and he hit just 9 home runs in his sole year with the Cubs.
The Cubs would go on to win the N.L. Central Division but would be swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series.
Floyd spent the next season with the Tampa Bay Rays, splitting time between first base, the outfield, and designated hitter.
He acted as a veteran presence and mentor for the young team eager to compete.
Floyd went to the World Series for the second time in his career with the Rays, a team that had been uncompetitive for the first 10 years of its existence.
The Rays would go on to lose the 2008 World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies.
He signed another deal after the 2008 season, this time with the San Diego Padres for one year.
His Padres career was incredibly short-lived, as he played in just 10 games and suffered through more injuries.
The Padres released Floyd following the season and he subsequently announced his retirement.
By the time he retired, Floyd had compiled 233 home runs, hit to an average of .278, and had nearly 1,500 hits.
He totaled 26 Wins Above Replacement over the course of his career and played regularly in all three outfield positions and first base.
Floyd’s story is a cautionary tale and should give teams pause before giving up on their highly-touted prospects as the Expos had done when they traded the young Floyd to the Marlins, where he had his best and most consistent seasons.
Despite early struggles and numerous injury-plagued seasons, Cliff Floyd put together a solid Major League Career.
Life After Baseball
Floyd has remained active in the game of baseball in various roles since his retirement in 2009.
His first gig after playing was with Fox Sports Florida in 2010, covering baseball.
He impressed in his role as a broadcaster and began receiving offers to join national sports broadcast teams.
In 2014, Floyd signed on with FOX’s national sports broadcasting team and began broadcasting Major League games in June of that year.
Since then, Floyd has held numerous positions with various companies, including MLB Network, Sportsnet, and the new Marquee Sports Network.
— PatchmanPhil (@patchmanphil) June 26, 2022
The former slugger has also been involved in philanthropy and charitable causes since he hung up his spikes.
In 2011, Floyd started the Cliff Floyd Foundation based in South Florida, which is involved in causes including providing scholarships, financial aid, and other opportunities to students.
Floyd partnered with Pauze Innovations in 2010, helping to develop a cap liner that baseball players can use in order to protect themselves if they are hit in the head by a batted or thrown ball.
In 2015, Floyd became eligible for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame but has yet to be inducted.
Cliff Floyd was one of the National League’s most promising prospects in the early 1990s.
After multiple disappointing seasons in a row with the Montreal Expos, Floyd grew into the player he was destined to be with the Florida Marlins, winning a World Series Championship and becoming one of baseball’s best middle of the order sluggers.
Combining power, positional versatility, and speed, Floyd was a dynamic player who battled through numerous injuries during his 17-year career.
Traded twice within two weeks and three times over the course of his career, Floyd played hard for every team he was a part of.
In the latter part of his career, Floyd served as an important mentor for young players across baseball.
He was able to put up a solid Major League career despite the disappointments, the injuries, his father’s death, and playing in a new city nearly every other season.
He continues to give back to the game that gave him so much and gave him so many obstacles to this day.
Floyd’s career is a truly inspirational one.