Prior to this season I had the opportunity to preview the Miami Marlins. It was a fairly optimistic preview.
Coming into Spring Training it seemed like there were a lot of things to like in Miami. Many believed they had one of the best outfields in baseball. They attempted to upgrade their starting rotation by acquiring Mat Latos. They signed Giancarlo Stanton to a thirteen year deal. Dee Gordon was coming in to sure up their infield. Jose Fernandez would be back around the all star break.
Because of this I thought it was possible that the Marlins might contend for a wildcard spot. PECOTA projected them to have 81 wins. So how have things gone in Miami this first half of the season?
Well…not great. Currently the Marlins are 38-52. They’re 11.5 games out in the NL East and they’re 10 games back of the wild card. Some media members had the Marlins as a sleeper World Series pick this year. At the time it didn’t seem THAT crazy, but as of today their playoff percentage is under 1% (joining the Reds, Brewers, and Phillies in the NL). So what exactly has happened in Miami this season?
What’s gone right?
As mentioned above not much has gone right, but the season hasn’t been a complete loss. They still do have Giancarlo Stanton and prior to his injury things were going very right. Stanton is still tied for the major league lead in home runs even though he hasn’t played in a game since June 26. He had already accumulated 3.9 fWAR when he was injured. He’s second in the NL in ISO (Bryce Harper), third in SLG, and third in RBI. Obviously his injury has tempered a little bit of this excitement (we’ll discuss below), but there’s no reason to believe that once he returns Stanton won’t remain one of MLB’s brightest stars.
Oh yeah…and he hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium this year. Here is a video clip to cheer you up, heart broken Marlins’ fan:
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Some were skeptical about the acquisition of Dee Gordon, but up to this point that has worked out as well. Gordon is second on the team with a 113 wRC+. He’s also second in the NL in SB (33), third in average (.338 – this is being aided by a .403 BABIP), and he’s accumulated 2.8 fWAR. So far he’s having a better offensive season than he did a year ago, and he’s been a big upgrade over Donovan Solano and Derek Dietrich.
Dan Haren has also been surprisingly good for the Marlins. Many weren’t sure if Haren would even pitch for the Marlins when he came over in the Dee Gordon deal. As of today he leads Marlins starters in wins (7), ERA (3.24), and strikeouts (79). His 4.13 FIP and 4.39 xFIP suggest that he should be due for some regression in the second half.
Jose Fernandez is back and so far he’s looked like…Jose Fernandez.
By UZR the Marlins are the second best defensive team in the NL. That’s something.
What’s gone wrong?
Offensively this just isn’t a very good team. That was true of the Marlins when they had Giancarlo. It is scary to think about what this offense might look like without him. They’re 13th in the NL in runs, fifth in K%, 12th in ISO, and 11th in OBP. Their 87 wRC+ is tied for second worst in the NL with the Mets. Only the Phillies offense has been worse by that metric. Keep in mind these numbers largely included Giancarlo Stanton destroying baseballs at every turn.
Some of their offensive woes have come from guys who were expected to have much better seasons. Marcell Ozuna’s wRC+ has dropped off from 114 to 76. Michael Morse was expected to provide some offensive production, but he has really struggled. Yelich, who has been battling injuries, has also seen a down turn in his offensive production. Two of the three outfielders who were potentially supposed to make up the best outfield in baseball really haven’t held up their end of the bargain.
On the whole the Marlins pitching staff hasn’t been great, but it hasn’t been as bad as the offense. Their ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all middle of the road in the NL. That’s not a terrible place to be, but it’s not going to lead to a lot of wins with the offense they currently have.
Mat Latos hasn’t looked great thus far, but both FIP and xFIP expect him to be better in the second half. Lagos has been hurt by a higher BABIP than last season (.305), but that could be more of a product of the fact that he had an unusually low BABIP a year ago (.269).
Henderson Alvarez has only started four games for the Marlins this season. In those four starts he didn’t look nearly as good as he did a year ago, but a shoulder injury explains some of that. He’s starting to make rehab starts.
So what do you get when you mix a mediocre pitching staff with a poor offense? A team that isn’t going to make he playoffs this season. I was a little off on my preseason projection and I don’t expect much to turn around the second half of the season.BttP Podcast: Ep 27 – Barry Gilpin & Eric Roseberry
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