Last offseason, the Marlins made moves to acquire Dee Gordon, Mat Latos, and Dan Haren, in hopes up putting a contending team on the field. That however, did not happen, as the Marlins ended up with a disappointing 71-91 record.
Their struggles were based around their inconsistent pitching staff, and not keeping their star players on the field. Despite all of the problems they suffered from last season, they could potentially be contenders in 2016.
Looking around the diamond, the Marlins look pretty set at every position. Starting in the outfield, they have arguably the game’s most prolific power hitter in Giancarlo Stanton, in right field, they have the young five tool player, Marcell Ozuna, in center, and up and coming youngster, Christian Yelich, in left.
The problem with Stanton is staying on the field. In just 74 games, he hit 27 homers last season. If he hadn’t gotten injured in late June, and played the whole year, he was on track to hit well over 50 homers. A full, healthy season from Stanton would transform the Marlins lineup.
Marcell Ozuna, in 2014, hit 23 homers, drove in 85 runs, in 153 games played. Expectations going into 2015 were through the roof, but unfortunately he did not deliver. He played 123 games, where he hit just 10 homers, with 44 RBIs, before being sent down to Triple-A. According to Statcast, Ozuna is one of 8 “true five-tool players” in MLB. Despite his poor 2015 campaign, people still expect Ozuna to be a very good player for the Marlins, in the near future.
Christian Yelich is coming off a year where he hit an impressive .300, with an OBP of .366. He is going into his age 24 season, and just like Ozuna, people expect big things. Yelich did strike out 101 times, but he also walked 47 times.
Defensively, Yelich and Ozuna are very good, while Stanton’s clear strength is his arm. The Marlin’s outfield is very young and very good, and could very easily be one of the best in baseball next season.
Moving along to the infield, at second base, the Marlins have the 2015 NL batting champion, Dee Gordon. Gordon hit .333, and stole a ridiculous 58 bags, and he is arguably the game’s best lead-off hitter.
At shortstop, the Marlins have one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, in Adeiny Hechavarria. He hit .281 this past season with very limited power.
At first base, the Marlins have up and coming slugger, Justin Bour. In just 129 games, Bour belted 23 home runs, while driving in 73.
Moving to third base, the Marlins have the veteran Martin Prado who hit 2.88 with a .338 OBP this past season.
And finally, the starting catcher figures to be J.T. Realmuto, who is nothing great offensively, but solid defensively.
As you can see, the Marlins have a team full of young position players that can be very good in 2016. Let’s look at a potential lineup.
- 2B Dee Gordon
- 3B Martin Prado
- LF Christian Yelich
- RF Giancarlo Stanton
- 1B Justin Bour
- RF Marcell Ozuna
- SS Adeiny Hechavarria
- C J.T. Realmuto
If these guys find a way to stay healthy, their lineup is looking very strong, offensively and defensively.
The Marlins glaring weakness is their starting rotation. Aside from their ace, Jose Fernandez, there are plenty of question marks. Their 2016 project rotation looks something like this.
- Jose Fernandez
- Tom Koehler
- David Phelps
- Jared Cosart
- Adam Conley
As you can see, their rotation does not look very strong at the moment. If the Marlins went out and signed a veteran middle-of-the-rotation starter like Ian Kennedy or Doug Fister, it might solve a lot of problems. They really don’t have guys that are pretty much a sure bet to eat up innings. Fernandez came back from Tommy John and got injured again, so even he isn’t a sure bet to stay healthy. Tom Koehler seems like the only guy that you can feel confident in making all of his starts. Adding a guy like Ian Kennedy makes the most sense because, one, he is a fly ball pitcher, which fits perfectly into Marlins Park, and two, he is a presence in the middle of the rotation that the Marlins currently lack. If they were able to add someone like Ian Kennedy, it would do great things for their rotation.
As for the bullpen, it was pretty much average in 2015. They ranked 14th in the big leagues with a 3.66 bullpen ERA. They have a solid closer, in A.J. Ramos, who saved 32 games in 38 opportunities with a 2.30 ERA.
Overall, the Marlins, to me at least, are looking like a team that is on the border of contending and not contending. Their lineup that is led by Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton, is looking surprisingly strong. If they add a middle to back end starter to help solidify the rotation, and maybe add a bullpen arm, the Marlins could contend in the weak NL East come next season.