FG on Fox: The Surprisingly Okay Marlins

We have room to appreciate only so many surprises at once. We’re all getting our heads around the Blue Jays leading the AL East, with the Rays in last and the Red Sox lousy. The Brewers continue to lead the NL Central, with the Cardinals fighting to stay over .500 and the Pirates fighting to get there. The Dodgers might hurt their necks from looking up at the Giants, and over in the AL West, the Astros might be in the basement, but for several weeks they’ve played like one of baseball’s best teams. There’s a lot going on, and the Marlins have never been particularly visible, but if you glance over at the NL East standings, you’ll notice it’s not just about the Nationals and Braves.

These Marlins would be interesting if they were hanging around without having suffered the nightmare scenario. It would be remarkable if the Marlins were 34-31 with a healthy Jose Fernandez. But, when Fernandez got hurt, the consensus was that the Marlins were finished. They were already considered a long shot with one of the best pitchers in the world. As soon as Fernandez went down, the Marlins were forgotten, having lost 50% of their superstars. Yet still they haven’t gone away, and as close as they are to the division lead, they’re also presently in a playoff position. If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Marlins would take on the Braves for the right to face the Giants.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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2 years 2 months ago

The Marlins just have to address their bullpen issues. They need someone to put infront of Cishek and another middle reliever, maybe someone that can get lefties out. Those guys will be available on the trade market, and the Marlins have the pieces necessary to get them. The only question is whether or not Loria will sign off on added payroll necessary. He didnt in 2008-2010

2 years 2 months ago

I’m pretty sure because they added 3-5 players (depending on how you look at it) who can hit the fastball long. Not just flyball distance, but how well they hit mistakes and good fastballs over the plate.

Ozuna and Stanton are among the leaders in flyball distance. You have Salty, G. Jones, McGahee and even Yelich who can (and have) hit 420ft+ bombers. Their team is built for the 3-run homer and the quality start. Where they have their best advantage, and what management has made the lineup suited for it, is at home. They are highly mediocre on the road.

But at their homebase, their pitchers can play to the park and minimize their mistakes more than the opponent. Eovaldi might give up some flyballs to Werth, Desmond, Rollins, Howard, Granderson etc. but the Marlins have a lotta of these guys who can put up the same distance on the flyball, and their homeruns are the opponents outs in Miami.

People underestimated them a lot this year, but they’ve essentially built a team that disregards the OBP-oriented structure of lineups and went with a pretty blatant approach to roster hitters that hit long-balls FAR. And their staff had good arms that can be given greater confidence pitching in that park.

I’m pretty sure the difference can be found in batted-ball distance vs their opponents vs the league. And use road games to strengthen the argument.