Back in 2012, Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made a large promise to fans of the ball club after a $515 million stadium, filled with home run sculptures, aquariums, and bobble-heads, was built in Miami.
He promised them a winning team.
After years of mediocrity as the Florida Marlins, the team packed their bags and headed for Miami, Florida in search of a new beginning of some sorts. In the offseason going into their inaugural season, they bought and traded for the best players on the market: Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle, to name a few.
With the stage set for winning, the opposite happened. Loria’s first year of the promise was broken. The Marlins went belly-up and finished 69-93.
Fans were angry not just because their team was losing, but because they helped pay for the stadium. Marlins Park itself was funded mostly by taxpayer money — and that was during a recession. Loria and the Marlins only contributed $155 million to the pot, which upset many fans.
Loria was deemed a carpet-bagger.
After the disastrous 2012 campaign, the team went in the direction of a rebuild. In 2013, they went 62-100, and in 2014 they went 77-85. Last year, when the team was expected to do well, they still low-balled expectations and played to a record of 71-91.
But this year, to everyone’s surprise, they’re playing to expectations and have even overcome some adversity.
Currently 38-34, the 2016 Marlins aren’t even playing to their full potential. Giancarlo Stanton, the club’s best hitter, is currently batting .211 and has one home run in all of June. He batted .173 in May and is batting .203 as of June 23. The Marlins next-best hitter, Dee Gordon, was suspended for 80 games at the end of April after he tested positive for a PED violation.
To make up for the struggles of Stanton and the suspension of Gordon, many have stepped up to fill their roles.
Marcell Ozuna has become All-Star material with his .323 batting average, 15 home runs, and 43 RBIs. Martin Prado, J.T. Realmuto, and Christian Yelich have also stepped it up and are batting over .300. Derek Dietrich has also helped with his batting average of .298, and Justin Bour has 12 homers and 36 RBIs.
On the pitching side of things, the bullpen ranks fifth in the National League with a 3.71 ERA while the starters rank seventh with an ERA of 4.07. Jose Fernandez and his 9-3 record with a 2.36 ERA have helped.
The Fish sit 4.5 games back of the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East and one game back for second. If Stanton can get out of his slump, the Marlins are set for a year full of winning.
On June 23, 2003, the Marlins sat at 38-39. If you remember correctly, the Marlins went on to win the 2003 World Series. So if 2003 proves anything, it’s that crazy things can happen.
For Jeffrey Loria, crazy things need to happen, and they need to be a good sort of crazy.