2018 MLB Preview

MLB Team Preview: Miami Marlins

There's "rebuilding," then there's the Miami Marlins. With Derek Jeter-led management clearing out star players in favor of prospects, castaways and reclamation projects, Miami will achieve the wrong kind of history in 2018.

What happened in ’17?

2017 Record: 77-85
Division Finish: 2nd » NL East
Playoffs: N/A

Though it’s stood the test of time, the adage “what a difference a year makes” could not possibly be more accurate in the case of the 2018 Miami Marlins baseball club. This team went from finishing a respectable second in the NL East to an absolute fire sale over the past three months. The turnover (reduction) in talent this team has experienced in the offseason is truly remarkable, in a very depressing way. The pitching was never quite there in ’17, but the Marlins were the best defensive team in the league and neared the Top 10 in some major offensive categories. Miami was also home to the 2017 NL MVP in Giancarlo Stanton, who had his talents shipped off to the Big Apple. The rest of any remaining impact players were soon to follow him out the door. What’s left is a literal skeleton of last year’s roster, with dark, dark days to ensue.

2017 Batting Ranks Runs* Average OPS
11th 3rd 11th
2017 Pitching Ranks ERA WHIP QS
26th 26th 30th
2017 Fielding Ranks Errors Field% SB%
1st 1st 8th
* Marlins ranked 19th in Home Runs

Offseason Changes

The New Guys
OF Luis Brinson (Brewers), 2B Starlin Castro (Yankees), P Jorge Guzman (Yankees), OF  Magneuris Sierra (Cardinals)

The Departed
C A.J. Ellis (Free Agent), 2B/CF Dee Gordon (Mariners), OF Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals), OF Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), OF Ichiro Suzuki (Free Agent), OF Christian Yelich (Brewers)

Oh boy. Clearly, Stanton being dealt to the Yankees was the big story. But the departure of Marcell Ozuna (.312, 37 HR, 124 RBI, .924 OPS) and his monster numbers flew a little more under the radar. When you throw in that first Gold Glove he snagged last season, Ozuna was practically as valuable as Stanton. But true to form, he’ll be dawning that sweet Cardinals red when the new season arrives. The more recent loss of Christian Yelich wasn’t far behind. A career .290 hitter with his own Gold Glove (2014), Yelich was shipped off to Milwaukee for prospects, creating another huge gap in the Marlins lineup. Finally, Dee Gordon, a three-time stolen bases leader and resident speedster on the team was moved up north to Seattle and will play in the outfield. You might ask yourself, “the Marlins must have secured some kind of return in all of these deals?” If you like prospects, they did recoup some value by replenishing their farm system to a minor degree. But these deals were about shedding contracts and starting over. You know, the boring stuff.

The Lineup

Projected Starting Lineup:
C  J.T. Realmuto
OF  Martin Prado
2B  Starlin Castro
1B  Justin Bour
OF  Derek Dietrich
OF  Luis Brinson
3B  Brian Anderson
SS  J.T. Riddle

Bench guys: 1B Garrett Cooper, 2B Miguel Rojas, OF, Magneuris Sierra, OF Scott Van Slyke, C Tomas Telis

With holes a plenty, the Marlins lineup will feature a mix of aging veterans, unproven youngsters and a couple of guys to look forward to. Justin Bour is one of those bright spots. Despite playing in only 108 games (429 plate appearances), he put up an extremely impressive stat line of 25 HR, 83 RBI, .289/.366/.536%. And even though he wasn’t an actual All-Star in ’17, his Home Run Derby performance (at his home ball park) put him on the map with the mainstreamers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bour reach 40 knocks this season, but with a pedestrian RBI total because of the guys in front of him. The other guy to care about is J.T. Realmuto, if only because he’s a catcher with some speed. We love those guys! Realmuto is like Jason Kendall with power and has remained durable in his first three seasons (and is still only 26 years old). If the Marlins were not in complete dumpster fire mode, they’d lock up Realmuto and his value at catcher. However, with the catching need being ever present throughout the league, J.T. is already seeing his name as part of the constant influx of Miami trade rumors. Starlin Castro is probably still upset to be dealt to Miami, while Martin Prado had a season to forget in 2017. Both of those vets could be moved. 21-year old Magneuris Sierra, acquired from the Cardinals in the Ozuna deal, has some blazing speed, so a potential Dee Gordon replacement? Stay tuned.

The Rotation

Projected Starting Rotation:
1. Dan Straily
2. Jose Urena
3. Wei-Yin Chen
4. Adam Conley / Dillon Peters
5. Odrisamer Despaigne / Justin Nicolino

Wow. I mean, look at those names. No offense to Dan Straily, but when DAN STRAILY is your ace by default, consider your rotation to be in poor shape. It’s undeniable that the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez still haunts this team. Jose Urena might be the next big thing, as he put together a solid ’17 season (14-7, 3.82 ERA, 2.1 WAR (highest pitcher on the team)), but the verdict is out on the guys after him. Chen is an injury concern and makes too much money, Conley sported a 6.14 ERA last year and Despaigne is a new comer with perhaps some potential. The bottom line is that with the rotation in it’s current state, the Marlins face the impossible task of improving upon one of the league’s worst collection of pitching numbers. Dillon Peters, Justin Nicolino and Jacob Turner are three names that could break into the rotation with solid showings in the spring.

The Bullpen

Projected Pen:
Closer: Brad Ziegler
Junichi Tazawa
Kyle Barraclough
Drew Steckenrider
Jarlin Garcia
Nick Wittgren

The Marlins bullpen is a tiny light at the end of a dark tunnel. They have some live arms that could put up some respectable numbers for the year. Ziegler is the closer based on experience, but that role could change hands several times over the course of the season. Barraclough, Smith and Garcia feature plus fastballs and high strikeout rates, useful for late inning pen activities (should the Marlins lead in any of their games).

Health Concerns?

None. The Marlins are a healthy group going into the season. However, it’s talent, not health, where the deprived. They have no significant players returning from any major injuries, which is fortunate, considering they’ll need all the help they can get on the field.

The Pressure is on…

Starlin Castro? Martin Prado? Wei-Yin Chen? Take your pick of any of the veterans on the team, just from a sheer motivational perspective. As leaders, can they stay motivated all season, enduring what could be more than one 10-game losing streak. Trust me when I say that there is NO pressure in Miami this season. ALL bets are off for competition of any kind within the division or elsewhere.

Manager’s Seat Check

Don Mattingly
8th season, 602-530 (.532%)

How can one’s seat be hot when there’s no expectation (or resources) to win ball games. The team surely can’t part with Mattingly, because it’s simply not his fault. If he gets to 60 wins this season, that’s a roaring success. His 156-167 record with the Marlins in two season will seem epic compared to the expected turnout this season. Seat Heat = 2/10

2018 Projections

Projected 2018 Record: 42-120
Win differential from 2017: -35
Projected Finish: 5th » NL East
Projected Playoffs: N/A

No, that is not a typo above. I think the Miami Marlins, with that shell of a roster, will manage to LOSE 120 games this season, an absurd 35-game drop off from last season. What a difference a year makes indeed. More details offered up below…

One BOLD Prediction

The 2018 Miami Marlins, with a record of 42-120, will BREAK the mark for the worst 162-game record in Major League Baseball history, held by the 2003 Detroit Tigers. Again, just look at this roster! It’s made up of prospects, castaways and reclamation projects. And be honest casual baseball fans, outside of Starlin Castro, Martin Prado and maybe Justin Bour, you haven’t really heard of any of these guys. Don’t feel bad. On top of the roster, the Mets and Phillies should both be slightly improved this season, making the NL East division a bit more difficult. Not only will this team “challenge” to be one of the worst of all-time, it will actually sink one game below that of the abomination that was the ’03 Tigers.

Joe’s Two Cents: “All the players have left. You should too.”

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