Miami Marlins: Mid-Season Report Card
Team: Miami Marlins
Record: 35-58 (18.0 GB)
Biggest Surprise of 1st Half:
For the Marlins this season, there have been a few surprises. For one, the pitching has been quite strong the entire season, posting a team ERA of 3.86 and WHIP of 1.312. The team ERA places them right in the middle of the pack of the National League, which, considering 3/5 of the projected opening day rotation was either injured or didn’t make the club out of Spring Training, was quite a feat. Another surprise has been the call-ups and successes of youngsters Marcell Ozuna (outfield, age 22 – .270/.305/.402/.707 – eight outfield assists and batting .352 with a .930 OPS in RISP situations) and Derek Dietrich (second base, 24 – .217/.282/.409/.691). While Ozuna’s power has not been there and Dietrich’s average has not shown up, they’ve both produced and come up big on both sides of the ball.
The biggest surprise, however, has been the performance of 20 year old rookie Jose Fernandez. It was firstly amazing that he was called up so soon, given that he had never even spent any time on a roster above A+ ball. Then, to actually go out and perform as well as he has this season, and then be named to the National League All-Star team, has been a very nice boost for the Marlins, who were looking for something, anything to get excited about outside of Giancarlo Stanton coming into this year. Fernandez has posted up just a 5-5 record, but has been deserving of a much better one. In 18 starts, Fernandez has shot himself into Rookie of the Year considerations by posting up these stats:
Over those 18 starts, Fernandez leads all rookie pitchers (not just NL) with at least 80 innings pitched in ERA, WHIP, WAR, H/9, HRA (tied), BAA, BABIP against, and OPS against, while being second in strikeouts, quality starts (tied), and K/9. Not bad for a 20 year old kid who wasn’t projected to start his year in AA with the Jacksonville Suns.
Biggest Disappointment of 1st Half:
Could there really be one place to go for disappointments on a team that was thought of to have a very high chance to set the record for worst team in the modern era? Well, the offense is one place to go. The team ranks last in the National League in batting average, OBP, slugging, OPS, runs, hits, doubles, homers, total bases, and interestingly enough, at bats. Some of the main disappointments from the “biggest disappointment” have been Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, and young catcher Rob Brantly. While Pierre and Polanco are understandable due to them coming close to retirement age (which some argue they should sooner rather than later), Brantly has been a concern. While it wasn’t entirely realistic to expect Brantly to maintain an OPS north of .800 for very long, as he did in 31 games last season, it was not expected for him to struggle as much as he has this year, hitting just .242 with an OPS that’s barely above .600 with just a single home run (that didn’t occur until just a few days ago), and nine doubles. Unfortunately for Brantly, back-up catcher Jeff Mathis has heated up offensively, and has been a better defender overall, which has the catching pair in a platoon role at this point. One could say, “why isn’t Adeiny Hechavarria on the disappointment list for offense?” While Hechavarria hasn’t lit the world on fire with his offense, he was never expected to hit in the big leagues. His big appeal, much like Mathis, is in his defensive abilities. Thus, I will have to say the biggest disappointment based on pre-season expectations has been Rob Brantly.
Shouldn’t be any surprise here. The team MVP is 20 year old All-Star rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez. And boy, is he excited about getting this honor or what?
As mentioned earlier, Fernandez has been the biggest surprise for the Marlins this year, and not only has he been an MVP for the team with his performance on the mound, but in the clubhouse, as well. He’s been the biggest supporter of his teammates whether he’s starting or not. He’s been humble and thankful every step of the way to just be able to play this game professionally, and he’s been doing it with strong numbers. As shown above, a 2.75 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, a K/9 of 8.9, and other stats have given Jose Fernandez strong consideration for Rookie of the Year, even on a last place team.
Prospect Ready to Make an Impact:
This is actually a tough one right now. Had Fernandez not been called up, he’d be the clear-cut choice for this, followed closely by Christian Yelich. However, Yelich has dealt with some injuries and some cold streaks in AA, as well as struggles against left-handed pitching, and wouldn’t be surprising if he stayed in AA for the rest of the year til be called up next June. After that, the choice would have been Ozuna, but he’s in the same boat as Fernandez, already in the Majors. So, next in line would have to be outfielder Jake Marisnick, who has had a strong season in AA. Marisnick is currently batting .297 with a slash line of .363/.490/.853, with 10 home runs, 41 driven in, and 11 steals. There has been word that Yelich could be called up as soon as late this month, but I’d expect Marisnick to be higher on the call-up charts at the present time.
Contender or Pretender:
I think this one is pretty clear-cut. The Marlins clearly are not contenders in 2013, and may not have a chance at contention for a couple more seasons. While the team has played better since May 31st (22-17 in that span), they’ve still yet to come within any closer than 20 games under .500. Currently, they are 23 under .500, which is still an improvement from a season-low 28 games under when they sat at 16-44 a few weeks ago.
Overall Team Analysis:
Well, earlier in the year in my Marlins season preview, I said I believed they could end up 76-86, that would have been the high point. If they want to reach the mark of 76-86, they’ll have to go 41-28 in the second half. Do I personally believe that will happen? No. But, I do believe they won’t reach 100 losses this year, which many thought was a no-brainer possibility. The team’s pitching has been the strongest point of the club, but the offensive liabilities have been too much to overcome. Over the team’s first 95 games, they’ve been shut out nine times, and scored two runs or less in 47 of those games. There have only been 27 games that the Marlins pitching staff has allowed two or less, although they’ve totaled 43 games where they’ve allowed three runs or less, which should be good enough for a win in most situations. If this team wants any chance to get to the mark I predicted and go 41-28 for the remainder of the year, the offense will have to show up, and fast.